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Interest rates look set to hold

The Bank of England looks set to hold interest rates at 5.75 per cent when it meets this week to assess the impact of five interest rate rises already this year on the economy. Economists and business leaders have both called for the Bank to leave rates where they are - which would be good news for homeowners, who have seen mortgage payments rise over the past few months, and also for retailers who have seen consumer confidence weaken. Economists have suggested that it takes over a year for the effects of rises in interest rates to really make themselves felt - particularly given the recently popularity of fixed-rate mortgages.The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said another increase would keep consumers even further away from the high street.Kevin Hawkins, BRC director general, said: "There is simply no case for another increase in interest rates this month."The effect of previous increases is already beginning to bite, with indicators, including our own shop price index, showing that inflation is now falling."The full effect of those hikes is now working its way through the system and retailers need the Bank of England to pause for breath, not pile more pressure."

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