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British interest rates kept on hold

May 9, 2005 at 9:05 AM

LONDON, May 9 (UPI) -- The Bank of England has kept interest rates steady at 4.75 percent for the ninth month in a row.

The bank's Monetary Policy Committee made the announcement Monday after its monthly meeting. Analysts said the decision, made amid evidence the British economy is going through a sticky patch, came as no surprise.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed manufacturing output fell at its fastest rate in nearly three years in March. Industrial output also dropped.

Consumer spending has declined, along with growth in housing prices.

David Frost, director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the decision, saying: "Most recent economic figures point to slowing activity, weakening domestic demand and lower confidence."

The rise in March annual CPI inflation to 1.9 percent was not "an argument for precipitate interest rate hikes," he said, noting that CPI inflation had not been above 2 percent since 1998.

Citing "worsening risks in the economic climate," he urged the MPC to reject calls for early increases and keep interest rates on hold for the next few months.

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