Bank to halt rate rises as data slows
The Bank of England is expected to hold fire on hiking interest rates next week, putting off its long-anticipated increase after economic growth almost ground to a halt.
Economists have pushed back their expectations for another rate increase to at least August - and possibly not until 2019 - after recent official figures showed the economy grew at its slowest pace in five years in the first quarter.
Gross domestic product (GDP) slowed sharply to 0.1%, down from 0.4% in the previous three months as the impact of the 'Beast from the East' compounded woes in consumer-facing and construction sectors.
And there are fears that the first quarter slowdown may not just be a weather-related blip, with official data revealing more widespread weakness.
A lower than expected purchasing managers index (PMI) reading for the services sector in April followed the lowest manufacturing reading for 17 months and reports of subdued construction demand.