MPC voted unanimously to keep rates and QE on hold

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The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep interest rates on hold at 0.5 per cent this month, according to minutes of the meeting published today.

The nine-member committee was also united in holding the Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) programme on hold at £375 billion, although discussions showed the case for further bond purchases “would be stronger” if the economic recovery was to falter.

Today’s minutes were published ahead of a decision, expected this evening, on whether the US Federal Reserve will begin to slow its stimulus package, which is currently running at $85bn (£53.3bn) a month.

MPC members Paul Fisher and David Miles had voted earlier in the year to restart the Bank’s asset purchase programme, but have put this call on hold pending an assessment of the “forward guidance” adopted by governor Mark Carney.

Under Carney’s policy, interest rates will not rise until unemployment falls to 7 per cent – down from its current level of 7.7 per cent – unless there is a risk of inflation running out of control. Official figures released yesterday showed the rate of consumer prices inflation dipped to 2.7 per cent last month, from 2.8 per cent in July.

The Bank also said that next month’s two-day MPC meeting would conclude on Wednesday 9 October, rather than the usual Thursday, to allow some members to attend international events in Washington.