Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

The pigs are coming. Find out more about

Pigs Gone Wild

here.

Economy: Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold again

12:09 09 January 2014

The Bank of England in London.

The Bank of England in London.

Interest rates remained on hold once more today, marking nearly five years of the cost of borrowing being kept at the record low of 0.5%.

The Bank of England pledged last year not to consider a rise until the unemployment rate falls to 7% as part of efforts to support the UK’s recovery.

Rates have stayed at the rock bottom level of 0.5% since March 2009, while the bank has also pumped £375billion into the economy under its quantitative easing programme to spur on growth.

But the strength of the economic revival in recent months has led to widespread speculation that the bank will have to tweak its forward guidance to stave off a rate hike.

Economists predict that bank governor Mark Carney will lower the unemployment target for considering an increase in the cost of borrowing as early as next month.

When he announced the new forward guidance policy on rates, the bank predicted that unemployment would not fall to 7% until 2016.

But unemployment has been falling faster than expected, down to 7.4% in October, as the recovery gains traction, meaning the threshold could be hit far sooner.

Alan Clarke, of Scotiabank, said unemployment was “falling like a stone”. He added: “We think that 7% will be hit in the early months of 2014. As a result, the bank is likely to modify its forward guidance policy, lowering the threshold to 6.5%, most likely at the February inflation report.”

Brian Hilliard, at Societe Generale, said the threshold could “easily” be reduced below 6.5%.

Despite the bank’s assurances that rates will stay low for some time, the recent pace of recovery has fuelled fears that borrowing costs will have to rise soon.

Economists are forecasting that fourth-quarter 2013 gross domestic product growth at least matched the 0.8% recorded in the previous three months.

Closely-watched survey figures from the services, manufacturing and construction sectors have confirmed that despite a dip in activity last month, the economy enjoyed a strong end to 2014.

But the economy still has some way to go before recovering to pre-financial crisis levels.

Mr Hilliard said the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is not “anywhere near ready to raise rates, given the general state of the economy” and believes rates will remain on hold until the third quarter of 2015.

The recent strength of the pound is also thought likely to increase chances that rates will remain on hold, as it could weigh down on exports by making products more expensive for overseas buyers and damage efforts to rebalance the economy.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “Any near-term raising of interest rates could cause sterling to strengthen even more, with damaging repercussions for export prospects.

“Sterling’s strength should help to contain consumer price inflation over the coming months and give inflation a good chance of staying close to its 2% target level for an extended period after dipping to a four-year low of 2.1% in November.”

0 comments

Dave Muller speaking at the Ipswich Vision networking event hosted by the Greater Ipswich Chamber of Commerce.

Nearly 100 leaders of businesses and other organisations from in and around Ipswich have been challenged to act as ambassadors for for town.

From left, Monthind partner Simon Biggs, Paul Prime, managing director of Atkins Gregory, Greg Gregory, founder of Atkins Gregory, and Monthind partner Tony Felgate. shaking hands of Monthind's acquisition of Atkins Gregory.

East Anglia cleaning company Monthind has expanded with thea acquisition of Cambridge-based commercial cleaning contractor Atkins Gregory.

The Bentley Fire Shop team with the company's International Gold Distributor Sales Achievement Award from Central Boiler, presented at the US company’s biennial dealer convention in Las Vegas.

An Essex-based stoves, fireplaces and heating specialist has received recognition as a leading distributor for a range of US-built outdoor wood furnaces.

The new boss of Marks & Spencer has unveiled his strategy for reviving the fortunes of its fashion business.
Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Marks & Spencer’s new boss Steve Rowe today pledged to slash prices and put more staff in stores to turn around its beleaguered clothing arm – but warned profits will take a hit.

Innovators, investors and entrepreneurs from the East of England at the Venturefest East event at Newmarket Racecourse.

More than 800 innovators, investors and entrepreneurs gathered in Newmarket to showcase what the region’s technology sector has to offer.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24