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United Kingdom central bank set to hold interest rates amid slowdown

11 May 2018

In line with what has become a new standard within the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), there are seven doves voting in favor of the decision and two arch-hawks, Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders voting in favor of 25 basis points rate hike in May.

The pound lost 0.8% to 1.3503 against the greenback, down from a weekly high of 1.3617 seen at 6:30 am ET. Growth was weakest in Britain, where Brexit-related pressures have squeezed consumer spending power and hurt firms' willingness to sign off on major investments.

New forecasts from the central bank showed inflation will slow more sharply, falling to the 2% target in two years. For now, most policymakers wanted to wait to be sure that the weakness passes quickly.

"There was value in seeing how the data unfolded over the coming months, to discern whether the softness in Q1 might persist", they said. And this is what warrants only very gradual and limited path of interest rate hikes in the UK.

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Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, and his eight rate-setting colleagues are striving to become more predictable in signaling when Britain's interest rates will rise again.

But the bank's caution is not expected to last indefinitely.

'Only one month ago, the markets were predicting a more than 90% probability of a United Kingdom interest rate increase this month.

"As Governor Carney stated in his remarks in an interview in April, the MPC is, "conscious that there are other meetings over the course of this year" and although the consensus view has been that a hike would come with an inflation report, this does not have to be the case".

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Announcing this decision, the Bank also cut its growth forecast for 2018 from 1.8 to 1.4 per cent. That reflects the soft growth seen at the start of the year.

Officials at the Bank have based their forecast on those predictions.

Overnight interest swaps now price in a chance of just over 10 percent that the BoE will not raise interest rates at all this year - with a rate hike delayed until early 2019 - compared with a near-certainty of a 2018 rate rise earlier. Wage growth was forecast to pick up slightly less strongly this year than had been forecast before. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. Sterling reached $1.43 last month on optimism of a May hike; now the pound appears to be pricing in a dovish inflation report and a weak GDP outlook with little prospect for further hikes this year; as a result, the pound was languishing at $1.35 ahead of Super Thursday, after wiping out all of its gains versus the dollar this year.

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