The Bank of England left UK interest rates on hold today in its first policy decision since official figures showed inflation turning negative. 

Ultra-low inflation has pushed back expectations of when the bank will start to raise rates, which have remained at 0.5% for more than six years, while the latest economic data appear to have killed off any chance of a hike coming soon.

Closely-watched figures from the dominant services sector yesterday signalled a sharp slowdown in growth in May, dampening hopes that the pace of the recovery could bounce back in the second quarter after a weak start to the year.

Today's decision also saw the Bank of England leave the scale of its money-printing quantitative easing (QE) programme unchanged at £375 billion.

The decision comes a day after the European Central Bank left its interest rate on hold at 0.05% and said its own €1.1 trillion stimulus programme was helping to support a modest recovery in the euro zone.

Today's Bank of England announcement comes after official figures showed Consumer Price Index inflation fell to -0.1% in April, in line with expectations.

It marked the first time inflation turned negative in more than half a century. 

But rate-setters expect it to turn "notably" higher at the end of this year and must keep an eye on its path further down the track as it tries to avoid CPI accelerating past its 2% target. 

In its quarterly inflation report last month, the Bank of England broadly indicated that it was likely to hike the cost of borrowing in the middle of 2016. 

But "hawks" on the nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) argue that the question of whether to raise rates now or leave them on hold is "finely balanced". 

Two members voted for a hike for a number of months at the end of last year but, since then, sinking inflation has seen a return to all nine members agreeing to leave rates as they are. 

The Bank of England will want to avoid knocking the recovery off course amid signs that it is already slowing down. 

Recent official figures confirmed that UK GDP growth slowed to 0.3% in the first quarter, its worst performance since the end of 2012. 

The bank has said it expects this to be revised up, but in its latest economic forecasts, published last month, it cut its expectation for growth over 2015 as a whole from 2.9% to 2.5%. 

International think-tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also yesterday cut its forecast for UK growth to 2.4% this year, down from its previous forecast of 2.6% in March.

Its prediction for next year was also scaled back by 0.2% to 2.3%.