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Bank of England says rates may need to rise before late 2019

17 May 2017

Faced with Brexit unknowns, a national election and mixed economic data, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and his colleagues will probably say on Thursday they want more clarity before paving the way for the first interest rate hike in almost a decade.

Britain's economy was one of the best performing major advanced economies a year ago, wrongfooting the BoE and most other forecasters who predicted that voting to leave the European Union would send the economy into a tailspin. This is now showing up in official inflation data, which at the latest reading sat at 2.3%, a joint-high not seen since early 2014.

The Bank of England predicts the annual inflation rate will rise to 2.7 percent by the middle of this year, up from the current rate of 2.3 percent and pushing the official limit of close to 2 percent.

The Governor of the BOE says that his organization has not modeled a disorderly Brexit. Weakness in productivity growth and a continuing drag from slack have contributed to this softness, but they can not explain its full extent. But in its statement, the Bank stressed that "monetary policy could need to be tightened by a somewhat greater extent over the forecast period than the very gently rising path implied by the market yield curve".

Tom Stevenson, investment director for Personal Investing at Fidelity International, said: 'For now, it seems the Bank of England will be sitting tight on a rate rise given the headwinds the United Kingdom economy faces and the strengthening of the pound.

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"The Monetary Policy Committee remained in wait-and-see mode this month", Confederation of British Industry chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

These market assumptions were based on average prices in the two weeks to May 3.

In October previous year, the Bank of England warned that life would turn hard for Britain's most vulnerable, as inflation was expected to rise due to a slump in the pound following the vote to exit the EU.

The Pound has dropped by -0.4% against the Euro today, following cautious announcements from the Bank of England (BoE).

The Bank of England on Thursday held its main interest rate at a record low 0.25 percent and crimped its economic growth forecast as Brexit uncertainties hit consumption.

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Once again, this was not the opinion of externally appointed MPC member Kristin Forbes, who as she did in March dissented by voting for a hike of the bank rate to 0.5% due to her concerns about inflation.

The BoE has already said that certain MPC members other than Forbes are ready to hike, saying in the minutes of its last meeting: "Some members noted that it would take relatively little further upside news on the prospects for activity or inflation for them to consider that a more immediate reduction in policy support might be warranted".

The report, released alongside the rates decision, also offered some cheer for the growth outlook as forecasts were raised to 1.7% for 2018 and 1.8% in 2019 from February's prediction for 1.6% and 1.7% respectively. It was last down half a per cent on the day at US$1.2882.

While inflation, now at 2.3 per cent, would likely peak at close to three per cent in late 2017, the Bank forecast the pound would pick up after the general election.

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