BOEUK interest rates have been kept unchanged at their record low of 0.5% by the Bank of England.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also left the £375bn quantitative easing stimulus programme unchanged.

When the policy was first announced, in August last year, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the Bank would not raise interest rates until the unemployment rate fell to 7% or below.

At the time the Bank did not predict this rate would be hit until 2016, but recent strong growth in the UK economy has led many economists to revise their forecasts.

Jobless figures released last month showed that the unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in the three months to November.

Mr Carney indicated that he did not want interest rates to rise for some time yet.

The Bank has been helped by the slowdown in inflation. The annual inflation rate fell to 2% in December, the first time it has been at or below the government-set target of 2% since November 2009.

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