Pound v U.S. dollar: BoE rate decision prompts GBP to plunge

Interest rates

Interest rates

However, it said growth is "likely to be revised up a little over time" with the labour market remaining "robust".

Now investors want to see if Carney keeps market bets on an August hike alive at a news conference after the 1100 GMT rate announcement, or if he decides that sitting on the fence is a safer strategy.

CPI Inflation now sits at 2.3% and earlier predictions of solid economic growth through this year had led many to expect the Bank to vote to increase the base rate from 0.5%, where it has been for much of the past 8 years, bar a dip to 0.25% during 2017.

The pound USA dollar exchange rate is now at around $1.353.

In parallel, the inflation projection for the current year was marked down from 2.7% to 2.4%, although rate-setters were at pains to stress that the chief reason for the downwards revision to their CPI projection was a lower estimate of the impact from weakness in Sterling.

The BoE raised rates for the first time in more than a decade in November, reversing an emergency cut made after June 2016's Brexit vote.

"It's likely over the course of the next year rates will go up. that's the most likely thing to happen", Mr Carney said in an interview with the BBC, the broadcaster said.

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In a Reuters poll published on Wednesday, all but three of 62 economists polled between May 3 and 8 expected no change in rates.

In minutes of the MPC meeting, the Bank said: "Weakness in the data for the first quarter had been consistent with a temporary soft patch, with few implications for the current degree of slack or for the outlook for the United Kingdom economy". In fact, some analysts (but by no means a majority) cautioned the MPC might move back towards a somewhat more hawkish stance just as quickly if backed-up by the incoming data.

Despite weak growth, the BoE sees the need for rate hikes because it thinks the economy could overheat due to long-term weak productivity and lower immigration driven by Brexit.

The decision comes despite the Bank's governor, Mark Carney, having earlier signalled that a rate rise was incoming soon.

Policymakers Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders, who again voted for a rate rise, agreed the weak growth so far this year reflected "temporary or erratic factors", but said delaying a rate hike risked more abrupt tightening later on.

The BoE said the economy would grow by 1.4 percent this year, down from the 1.8 percent it predicted in February, with slowing consumer lending and a sluggish housing market creating greater-than-usual uncertainty about consumer demand.

As well, while the MPC continued to tow the line of three interest rate hikes over the forecast period, consumer prices were now projected to be almost back down to target in two years' time.

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