Bank of England's QE worries

The latest health check on Britain's manufacturers, builders and services firms will be examined by the Bank of England this week, as it prepares to step up its money-printing efforts.

The batch of purchasing manager indices covering January from Markit, the financial-information firm, will be the Monetary Policy Committee's most timely indicator of the country's economic fortunes, ahead of a crucial February meeting.

If the slight signs of momentum seen in December continue into January, the committee may opt to go ahead with a smaller dose of quantitative easing than the £75bn currently pencilled in by most economists.

Any sign of good news will also be seized on by the Chancellor, George Osborne, after official figures revealed a 0.2 per cent decline for the economy in the final quarter of 2011. This suggests the UK is on course for a double-dip recession.