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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bank of England Leaves Rates On Hold

The Bank of England kept interest rates at a record low again on Thursday and cut its forecasts for growth and wages as it warned that Brexit was weighing on the economy.The gloomier outlook for the next two years further reduced speculation that the BoE was close to its first rate hike in a decade.Governor Mark Carney nonetheless sought to keep alive the possibility of one next year.
He said uncertainty about Brexit — in particular lower investment by companies — meant the economy could not grow as fast as before without pushing up inflation. So, just a small improvement in growth could bring forward a rate hike.“The speed limit, if you will, of the economy has slowed,” he told reporters. “That … could have consequences for monetary policy, depending on the evolution of demand.”
But investors saw no sign that the BoE was in a hurry to raise rates, a contrast to the outcome of its June meeting.The pound hit a nine-month low against the euro and fell by more than a cent against the U.S. dollar. Shares rose and British government bond prices jumped.
Bets on interest rate futures suggested investors had pushed back their expectation for the first BoE rate hike by four months to December next year, RBC Capital Markets said. Central banks around the world have struggled to wean their economies off the stimulus of rock-bottom interest rates, largely because of weak wage growth for workers.
The Bank said it might raise borrowing costs a bit more than investors expect over the next three years.But U.S. bank Citi said the BoE was probably more worried about the risks of a disorderly Brexit than it let show.“Brexit downside risks are larger than the MPC can formally acknowledge, which keeps the bar for a pre-2019 rate hike high, in our view,” analysts at the bank said in a note to clients.
The Bank kept its asset purchase programs unchanged on Thursday. It also said a bank lending scheme would end as on schedule in February 2018.Analysts at HSBC predicted the 6-2 vote for keeping rates on hold would become 7-2 once when the finance ministry’s top economist Dave Ramsden joins the MPC in September. He oversaw the ministry’s pre-referendum forecasts about Brexit which warned of a hit to the economy from a Leave vote

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