Interest rate stays at four per cent

08 April 2004
The Bank of England's monetary policy committee today voted to leave interest rates unchanged at four per cent.

The news will be welcomed by the manufacturing sector, which had been bracing itself for another increase.

A rise today would have meant two increases in the last three months.

Experts still expect the MPC to bring in another increase in the next three months, as consumer spending, personal debt and the housing market remain cause for concern.

The decision to maintain the rate at four per cent is in keeping with the bank's policy of a gradual increase.

Some commentators expect interest rates to settle at around five per cent by the end of the year.

Union leaders had warned ahead of today's announcement that another rise would make British exports less competitive and threaten jobs.

Today's decision was one of the closest in recent memory, with analysts divided over which way the MPC would go.