Interest rates held for third month

This is the third month that interest rates have been held, despite warnings from the governor of the Bank of England that the rate may rise to choke off consumer spending, and calls from industry to cut rates still further to pull manufacturing out of recession.

The CBI said the decision to leave interest rates on hold was disappointing but understandable.

Ian McCafferty, chief economic adviser to the CBI, said: "We recognise that a small cut in interest rates is not the only solution to pulling manufacturing out of recession. However, with inflation clearly under control and signs of the slowdown spreading to consumer services, a rate cut would have injected some much needed confidence across all sectors.

"Job losses across the economy are set to accelerate in coming months, suggesting that consumer spending will slow once the New Year's sales period is over. It is vital for the economy as a whole that spending is not allowed to fall away before there are clear signs of a global recovery."

However, predictions for what will happen to interest rates remains hazy. Gina Collman, head of corporate communications at GMAC-RFC, said: "The decision was not a shock, it was almost totally anticipated. But, it is difficult to predict what will happen later on this year. We just have to watch the economy over the next few months to see how it is progressing. It is one of those environments where it is too difficult to predict long term."