Business in the West Midlands took the Bank of England's no change decision on interest rates in its stride - never really expecting it would announce a cut two months in succession.

But some remained disappointed nevertheless - sectors like retail in particular are having a hard time of it. Now there will be hopes a cut will come in February.

Katie Teasdale, policy adviser at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "The MPC seems to have taken the view that upward inflationary pressures are more of a concern at the moment than the flurry of firms who have reported worrying figures this week and the sustained weakness of sterling against the euro over recent months.

"It is important to curb inflation. However, businesses are also concerned about the extent and nature of the slowdown we can expect in 2008. Both the MPC and the Government have made worrying predictions about the stability and sustainability of UK plc and businesses may need the Monetary Policy Committee to kick-start the economy with a cut in interest rates next month."

Sue Yates, president of Solihull Chamber, said: "With all the trading figures and gloomy predictions of recent weeks, there was a strong argument for a cut. However that could have been considered to be a knee jerk reaction when what is actually needed is period of consideration to see if the December reduction is having any impact.

"If the situation does not improve in the next month then the calls for at least a quarter point decrease will get even louder."

Peter Mathews, president of the Midlands World Trade Forum and also president of the Black Country Chamber, said: "The decision to hold rates was expected but is by no means welcome. Interest rates still remain high compared to our international competitors. The pound has been weakening against the dollar and the euro in recent weeks and this will help international trade, but another cut next month will certainly make things easier.

"The MPC needs to convince business that it is on their side in helping Britain to maintain its position as a major player."

CBI West Midlands director, Chris Clifford, said: "The MPC was presented with a plethora of potentially conflicting data over recent weeks, which fuelled uncertainty about which way it would vote. And while it is clear that a further cut is already in the pipeline, the exact timing has been harder to call.

"The economic news over Christmas was mixed, and the severity of the slowdown difficult to determine. At the same time, inflationary pressures from energy and food costs remain worrying.

"What probably tipped the balance was the much greater calm in the money markets, following the injection of liquidity by the key central banks in the run up to the critical year end period. Three-month LIBOR spreads have fallen to their lowest since last August.

"While it is still much too early to declare that markets are returning to normality, this has allowed the Bank to take its time in assessing where the economy is going for next month's meeting."

Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said she hoped that the good news of a rate cut would be just around the corner.

"No one can be too surprised at the MPC's decision," she said. "There had been strong calls from many quarters - including us - for the rate to be cut but there has been so much contrary statistical evidence over recent weeks I would imagine members want to digest that first before making a decision to move.

"After the suddenness of the credit crunch last year the MPC, like all other leading financial organisations, is currently under the microscope and it will have been mindful of making a hasty decision which did not prove prudent in the longer term.

"However, we know from our members that a cut in the rate is very much needed during what are still proving testing times for industry."

Gurdip Chamba, regional chairman of RICS West Midlands, said: "The Bank of England was right to hold policy steady but we suspect that if the economic news flow continues to deteriorate over the balance of this month, it will have to lower interest rates when it meets again in February.

"While the inflation risk can't be dismissed too lightly, RICS West Midlands continues to take comfort from the underlying picture on wage settlements, which is more benign than some recent headlines have suggested."

David Waller, Midlands' chairman of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, was critical.

He said: "This is bad news for businesses in the region, many of whom were looking to the MPC to take action to help restore a much-needed sense of stability at the start of 2008."

Gary Cowdrill, of Birmingham Forward, added: "The announcement was as expected but none the less disappointing. There is no doubt that the rate will need to be cut to stimulate the economy and this will need to be done sooner rather than later.

"The Bank of England has missed an opportunity to make a pre-emptive strike."