By FWi staff

THE Bank of England faced increasing pressure to raise interest rates when its Monetary Policy Committee met last month, according to minutes released yesterday.

The eight-member MPC was split 4:4 on whether or not to increase rates, forcing the Banks Governor, Eddie George, to use his casting vote for the second successive month to keep interest rates at 7.25%.

Sterling rallied 1.5 pfennigs against the Deutschmark after the minutes were released yesterday at noon.

The Pound climbed above DM3.04 as speculation has increased that Mr George was forced to use his casting vote for a third time when the MPC again held rates at 7.25% after last weeks meeting.

Analysts say there is now little hope that interest rates have peaked or that they are likely to be reduced when the MPC next meets in May.