THE Bank of England left monetary policy unchanged yesterday by keeping interest rates at the record low of 0.5% and leaving quantitative easing (QE) at £375 billion.

The decision by the Bank's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee did not come as a surprise, in spite of Chancellor George Osborne warning the UK's economic growth would be slower than expected.

However, the gloomy economic picture means some commentators believe QE may be re-started in the early months of 2013.

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Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, said: "With the MPC having rejected a further extension of QE last month, a change in policy was unlikely.

"But a further round of asset purchases certainly remains on the table, and the MPC's outlook is already quite downbeat."

Ms Leach added: "Recent data presents a mixed picture of momentum through the fourth quarter, with the CBI's service sector and retail survey results relatively upbeat, but our manufacturing survey weaker.

"If evidence shows that conditions have deteriorated further this may prompt a shift in policy in the New Year."

Stephen Boyle, Royal Bank of Scotland's head of group economics, commented: "Not even a gloomier economic outlook from the Office for Budget Responsibility could tempt the MPC to provide some early Christmas cheer for the UK economy."