The pound was steady ahead of a big day in the UK, as chancellor Gordon Brown prepared to announce details of his Budget.

This morning the dollar stood at 1.7455 to sterling, while the euro was at 1.4463 against the pound.

News that the Bank of England had voted eight to one to keep the interest rate on hold fell in line with expectations, with a shift in the interest rate not anticipated in the next meeting.

The latest meeting minutes indicated that the bank's monetary policy committee remained unlikely to move the rate any time soon.

Meanwhile, the chancellor began his Budget by insisting inflation is "currently two per cent and on target".

Inflation projections will remain on schedule over the coming five and ten years, he stated, adding that the economy had withstood a number of potentially unsettling events of late.

According to Mr Brown, growth in the UK has averaged 2.8 per cent since 1997, with 2006 marking a decade in which the UK has outstripped growth rates in the rest of the EU.