The U.K.'s benchmark interest rate stayed at the record low of 0.5 percent, where it has stayed since March 2009. The central bank also held the size of its bond purchases under the quantitative easing program at £375 billion ($554 billion). This month's decision came ahead of a general election in May that is expected to be the closest-fought in a generation. Forecasts suggest the Conservatives will emerge as the party with the largest number of seats after the election, but without an overall majority. This would potentially result in another coalition government, like the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat one.
Instead, the bank is seen holding rates until inflation starts to recover, led by wage growth. The country is still in the grip of disinflation (falling inflation), with the consumer price index coming in unchanged in the year to February 2015, down from 0.3 percent in January and well below the central bank's target of 2 percent.
Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits over the past four weeks than at any time in almost 15 years, signalling underlying strength in the labour market even as hiring cooled last month. From mid-March through the seven days ended April 4, jobless claims averaged 282,250 a week, the lowest since June 2000.
The level of dismissals is consistent with an improving labour market and indicates companies are optimistic demand will strengthen after a weaker first quarter. Figures earlier this week showing job openings at a 14-year high point to a pickup in the pace of hiring after a March slowdown.
Claims since the beginning of March have held below the 300,000 level that economists say is consistent with an improving labour market. While companies are maintaining headcounts, job listings also have climbed. Openings rose to 5.1 million in February, the most since January 2001.
GBP - 09:30: UK Manufacturing production MoM (Feb) expected to increase to 0.4% from -0.5%
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