Decision at lunchtime today
Retailers will be on tenterhooks this morning as the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) prepares to announce its decision around lunchtime on whether to change interest rates.

Economists are predicting that the Bank will lower interest rates by 0.25 percentage points, to 4.5 per cent, a decision that would be received warmly by retailers, many of which have been suffering from depressed consumer confidence, caused in part by a cooling housing market.

Retail industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has been campaigning for an interest rate cut for some time. It was joined by CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones, who said on Tuesday: 'The argument for a wait-and-see approach is fading fast - it is time for the Bank of England to get off the fence.'

Evolution analyst Nick Bubb forecast that the BRC monthly sales monitor due out next Monday will show sales for July down by 0.5 per cent like for like, for the second month running. 'That would not be a disaster, but is subdued enough for the MPC to be justified in cutting interest rates today,' he said.