Sterling headed for 4th successive weekly decline after BoE holds rates


Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday that interest rates are likely to rise "over the course of the next year", speaking shortly after the central bank kept borrowing costs on hold in May.

"Following all the above, the Bloomberg implied odds of a rate hike in the August meeting fell 12ppt to 42%".

"The UK economy seems rather fickle at present (and) even the Bank of England seems to be blowing hot and cold", said Hetal Mehta, an economist at Legal & General Investment Management. In an April 18 poll, 69 of 76 had a 25 basis point increase penciled in.

The rate was further lowered by 25 basis points in the wake of the Brexit vote in the summer of 2016 and was raised back to 0.5 percent at the end of a year ago.

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Heavy snow slowed economic growth in much of Europe in March. Britain┬┤s economy grew more slowly than most of its peers a year ago after a Brexit-driven jump in inflation hit consumer spending power and some businesses delayed long-term investment.

This is largely down to a recent set of figures that showed that the United Kingdom economy grew by just 0.1% during the first quarter of 2018.

The Bank has described recent disappointing economic data as a "temporary soft patch", implying rates will rise in the fullness of time (with interest rates near an all time low, this is one of the safest of bets and only a question of timing). The following month, two of the BoE's nine Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members voted for an increase to 0.75 percent. Surveys have suggested little rebound last month. BoE governor Mark Carney said: "The overall economic climate in the United Kingdom looks little changed thus far".

Carney said data looked "mixed" and hinted at MPC disagreements. Higher interest rates exert downward pressure on inflation, and lower interest rates push it up.

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The rate has now changed just twice since March 2009 when it was lowered to a then record low of 0.5 percent in the wake of the financial crisis.

However, the BoE may not be comfortable with this scaling-back of interest rate expectations, which has the potential to fuel inflation through a weaker pound and cheaper credit.

Lower-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter of this year of just 0.1 percent over the quarter are seen by markets and analysts to have weighed on the Bank's decision. And this is what warrants only very gradual and limited path of interest rate hikes in the UK.

"Overall, our United Kingdom team noted that given the lower urgency for a rate hike due to the need for "limited tightening" over the forecast horizon, they see an increase in rates contingent on growth bouncing back and negotiations on the Brexit front staying positive, while their call for an August rate hike stands".

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