The MPC's decision to leave policy unchanged again this month was unanimous as both Martin Weale and Ian McCafferty dropped their call for an immediate hike in Bank Rate.
January is the first month since July last year that all the MPC members voted to keep Bank Rate at 0.5 percent and will inevitably be seen as further reducing the likelihood of any monetary tightening over at least the first half of 2015.
That said, falling oil prices were seen by the MPC as providing a potentially sizeable boost to economic activity and as such medium-term inflationary risks may have risen since their December meeting. Even then, and particularly in the light of recent developments in Continental Europe, the MPC also acknowledged the threat of a prolonged period of weak consumer prices that might prompt a downgrading of inflation expectations.
The current economic environment makes for a somewhat complicated backdrop to policymaking. In itself, this increases the likelihood of interest rates going nowhere in a hurry but it probably also means that the central bank's economic forecasts will become more volatile which financial markets will not like. To this end, next month's Quarterly Inflation Report (QIR) will provide an update on exactly how the Bank sees the slide in energy costs impacting the outlook.
The Monetary Policy Committee issues minutes of its meetings with a two week lag.
Investors who want a more detailed description of Bank of England opinions will generally read the minutes closely. The MPC may issue a statement after its monthly meeting but the minutes will be much more detailed. In particular they will reveal who voted for and against the Committee's decisions and provide a more detailed description of the MPC's thinking. As such, the minutes are a market mover as analysts parse each word looking for clues to future policy.
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