Bank of England keeps interest rate on hold as economy slows

Governor Mark Carney Presents Bank of England's Financial Stability Report

Bank of England governor Mark Carney is set to announce interest rates tomorrow

Although the labour market still looks incredibly strong, with unemployment at multi-decade lows and wage growth picking up, Q1 GDP was weak; growing just 0.1% over the quarter. The vote split was the same as at the last meeting in March.

The central bank said on Thursday that inflation had fallen faster than it expected. It said first-quarter growth will probably be revised up to 0.3 percent from the initial estimate of 0.1 percent.

United Kingdom economic growth has almost flatlined in recent years.

Rain Newton-Smith, Confederation of British Industry's chief economist, said: "The MPC was clearly swayed by a series of softer economic data recently, and is waiting to see whether this marks the beginning of a more prolonged slow patch".

Financial markets had seen a rate hike this month as a near certainty until the recent first quarter data shock and subsequent gloomy reports from different sectors of the economy.

The BoE predicted that consumer price inflation (CPI) would continue to fall, approaching the target figure of 2 percent.

"Arguing that the transmission mechanism works primarily through household expectations of the path for bank rate, rather than the rates they observe on credit cards and mortgages - which in turn hinge on the yield curve - is unorthodox to put it mildly", he said.

But while savers will be disappointed, it's pretty good news for investors.

As anticipation mounted ahead of the Bank of England's (BoE) May policy announcement the Pound to Euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate found some limited support.

Speaking at the press conference upon the release of the report, governor of the BoE Mark Carney added: "The underlying pace of growth remains more resilient than headline data suggests".

"While the storms of February and March have given way to sunnier skies, the economic outlook for the United Kingdom remains clouded by Brexit uncertainties", Carney said. The negotiations are likely to remain contentious in the near-term, both within the United Kingdom political sphere and between the United Kingdom and EU.

"Where we can hope to see greater certainty later in the year is through positive progress in Brexit negotiations, which can lend some much-needed stability to business confidence and the United Kingdom economy as a whole".

While the odds of an imminent interest rate hike have been all but priced out of GBP exchange rates investors still hope to see signs that the BoE remains on a tightening bias.

However, they cut their forecast for the rate of growth in the UK's gross domestic product in 2018 from 1.8% to 1.4%.

Export growth and investment should be particularly important drivers of growth, aided by the weak pound, the Bank believes.

The UK's estate agents delivered the latest bit of gloomy news on the UK economy today with a report showing property price is at its lowest level since 2012.

The slowdown in the first three months of the year was one of two reasons why the Bank stayed pat.

For the two dissenters on the MPC - Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders - the case for an immediate rate rise had not changed, given the "temporary or erratic" first quarter growth data.

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