Bank of England to hold rates after data downturn


Earlier on Thursday the BoE left rates steady and said weak growth during a snowy start to 2018 was likely to be temporary, but it wanted to be sure the economy was picking up in coming months before raising borrowing costs.

Now investors want to see if Carney keeps market bets on an August hike alive at a news conference after the 1100 GMT rate announcement, or if he decides that sitting on the fence is a safer strategy.

"The MPC acknowledged that inflation had fallen faster than expected in the first quarter, which it attributed primarily to the impact of the past depreciation of sterling fading a little faster than previously thought", said Archer. The MPC did underline that there were exceptional circumstances presented by Brexit, which is set to occur next March within the forecast horizon that the MPC considers.

An interest rate rise would have helped to strengthen the Pound, but in the event it slipped back from $1.3617 before the decision to trade at $1.3500 at the time of writing (recovering from a low of $1.3471).

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Britain's economy grew more slowly than most of its peers a year ago, after a Brexit-driven jump in inflation hit consumer spending power and some businesses delayed long-term investment.

In contrast to what the Office for National Statistics said when commenting on poor Q1 growth, the Bank is of the opinion that the current "soft patch" is due to the late and hard winter disruption caused by "The Beast from the East" in March.

The BoE raised rates for the first time in more than a decade in November, reversing an emergency cut made after June 2016's Brexit vote. The following month, two of the BoE's nine Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members voted for an increase to 0.75 percent. On the other hand, the BoE revised down its inflation forecasts both in the short and medium term, while reducing growth this year by 40bps. Financial markets price in a roughly 65 percent chance of a rate rise by then, according to interest rate futures. Higher interest rates exert downward pressure on inflation, and lower interest rates push it up.

But with growth slowing, the central bank could struggle to raise rates at all this year, he added.