Bank of England keeps interest rates at record low despite steady improvement in economy

The Bank of England has decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.5 percent this month even as the British economy improves.

Policymakers also decided to keep the bank's monetary stimulus program unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($612 billion) during their meeting Thursday. Both moves were widely expected.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said last month that the bank was unlikely to raise rates any time soon because there is still substantial slack in the economy, even though unemployment has dropped faster than expected.

The bank said in August that it didn't plan to raise rates at least until unemployment dropped to 7 percent. The rate has since dropped to 7.1 percent.