Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

England Cuts Rates

LONDON -- The Bank of England on Thursday took financial markets by surprise by cutting its key interest rate by a larger-than-expected 0.5 percentage points to 5.5 percent, its fifth reduction in as many months.

The decision put British interest rates at their lowest level in 4 1/2 years and means the central bank has more than reversed the tightening it enacted late in 1997 after being given responsibility for rates by the new Labour government in May of that year.

Rates were as high as 7.5 percent until last October when the bank embarked on an aggressive rate-cutting policy as the world economy teetered on the brink of disaster and survey evidence pointed to a rapid domestic slowdown.