Bank of England Holds Interest Rates Steady

London–As generally expected, the Bank of England held interest rates at 5.5 percent on Thursday, The Financial Times reports.The bank is taking time to assess the impact of inflation and the U.K.’s economic decline. Reports next month should reveal whether or not consumers are spending less, as recent reports from Marks and Spencer and other retailers suggest, according to the Times.The Monetary Policy Committee will watch for wage inflation increases, which may be on the rise, and the state of the sterling, which recently declined. “The key argument for waiting is that the news on near term influences on inflation has been poor: oil prices near $100 a barrel, a renewed rise in domestic energy tariffs, and a sharp move down in the trade weighted exchange rate,” Malcolm Barr, economist at JPMorgan, told the Times on Wednesday. The bank reduced rates at its last meeting.