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Bank of England keeps rates on hold, watches for recovery rebound

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The Bank of England kept interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent on Thursday as it waited to see how quickly Britain's economy recovers from a surprisingly sharp slowdown earlier this year.

Investors do not expect the BoE to raise rates until 2016 — seven years after it cut them to steer Britain through the financial crisis — in large part because of the plunge in oil prices which took Britain's inflation rate below zero in April.

The likelihood of the Bank keeping rates on hold throughout 2015 grew further after Britain's quarterly economic growth rate halved to 0.3 percent in the first three months of this year. A survey published on Wednesday, as the Bank began its two-day meeting, showed Britain's giant services sector slowed sharply in May, suggesting the recovery from the weak first quarter could be slower than thought.

The Bank issued no statement after its decision was announced. Minutes of the meeting are due to published in just under two weeks' time. The nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee has voted unanimously to keep rates on hold in all its previous meetings in 2015.

Two of its members dropped their votes for a rate hike in January in response to the oil price plunge. The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to start raising borrowing costs this year, followed by the BoE. The European Central Bank is further behind as it is in the early stages of a major stimulus programme to revive the euro zone economy.

Last month the BoE cut its forecasts for British economic growth over the next three years. BoE Governor Mark Carney said it was “possible” interest rates will be higher in a year's time, as expected by markets, although the central bank would not raise them too soon and risk slowing the economy.

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