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Bank of England poised for first rate hike in ten years

Nov 02, 2017 07:35 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

AFP - The Bank of England is expected Thursday to deliver its first interest rate increase in more than a decade as it fends off Brexit-induced high inflation.

The British central bank will unveil the outcome of its latest monetary policy committee meeting at 1200 GMT.

The BoE is odds-on to ramp up rates from a record-low 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent in a bid to tame surging consumer price levels, economists say.

That would be the first hike in UK borrowing costs since before the global financial crisis, when rates were ratcheted up as high as 5.75 percent in July 2007.

The bank subsequently cut borrowing costs to ultra-low levels during the crisis and beyond -- and is now mulling a gradual path of monetary policy tightening to combat inflation rising far above its 2.0-percent target.

A quarter-point increase on Thursday would reverse an emergency rate cut implemented in August 2016 on fears over the economic impact of the shock Brexit referendum which has not materialised.

However, the pound has slumped in value since the EU exit vote. The currency's weakness has, in turn, pushed up the cost of goods imported into Britain and sent consumer prices spiking.

The nation's 12-month inflation rate accelerated in September to 3.0 percent -- the highest level for more than five years, recent data showed.

Around eight million Britons have never seen an interest rates rise in their adult lives, experts say, with rates languishing at rock-bottom lows since the financial crisis.

Higher interest rates would increase repayments for borrowers and therefore stretch household budgets which are already under pressure from weak wage growth and soaring consumer prices. However, they also boost savers who tend to receive a higher rate of return.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the BoE is not forecast to alter its quantitative easing  or cash stimulus policy, which it launched back in 2009 to rekindle lending and growth.

Separately, the central bank's chief regulator warned on Wednesday that 10,000 financial services jobs could be relocated away from the UK on the first day of Brexit.

Britain is on course to depart from the European Union in March 2019 -- but London remains locked in tough exit negotiations with Brussels.


 

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