News that the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) had voted to keep the interest rate on hold saw sterling steady this afternoon.

The euro stood at 1.4570 to the pound while the dollar was at 1.7362.

The MPC confirmed it would keep the base rate on hold at 4.5 per cent, where rates have stayed since summer of last year.

While the committee is keen to keep down inflation, interest rates may yet be cut according to some analysts, in a bid to stimulate the economy.

The next meeting of the MPC will be at the beginning of April.

Today also saw data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released, with figures indicating a flat trajectory in the movement of the trade deficit - which stayed at £3.8 billion in January.

The ONS also revealed that production in the main industries had risen, climbing by0.3 per cent in the three months leading up to January.