Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee keep rates on hold as house prices rise 5.1%.

The Bank of England has left interest rates on hold for the sixth month in a row.

The sustained recovery in the housing market is thought to be behind the decision to keep rates at 4.5%.

Halifax today reported an annual rate of house price inflation in January of 5.1%. Prices in the last three months have risen by 1.6% although prices dropped slightly between December and January.

Economists suggest that the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee will cut rates later in the year, possibly spring, to boost the consumer market.

In January sales on the high street rose only 0.2% according to the British Retail Consortium, representing the worse start to the year for a decade.