The Bank of England's (BOE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 9-0 on Thursday to keep its monetary policy unchanged, leaving the U.K. interest rate at 0.5 percent in a result widely expected by markets.
The focus now moves to inflation, which is at a five-and-a-half-year high, putting pressure on the bank to raise interest rates in order to temper rising living costs. Markets are looking for clues as to when and how frequently any rate hikes might take place in the coming year.
"Unfortunately, the MPC did not offer much," said Kallum Pickering, senior U.K. economist at Berenberg, in a research note, adding that the central bank is not yet ready to begin the process of preparing markets for the next hike.
Sterling dipped slightly from 1.3446 against the dollar to 1.3413 on the announcement as did the 10-year gilt yield, which moved from 1.214 percent to 1.206 percent, though the result was largely priced into the markets already.
The unanimously dovish vote to maintain rates and quantitative easing reflects a desire to shelter a fragile British economy dented by Brexit uncertainty. Britain's growth outlook remains low — in late November, the country's Office for Budget Responsibility downwardly revised its outlook for productivity growth, GDP (gross domestic product) growth and business investment.