Burton Mills - BoE Set to Hike Rates in May


For the time being, Britain's central bank is keeping interest rates at 0.5%, and confirmation of the bank's decision encouraged sterling to appreciate further, continuing a recent rally on the back of progress in the country's Brexit negotiations with the EU.

First, a rate rise looks a dead cert for the next 10 May monetary policy committee meeting (there's no meeting in April).

"Recent snow-related disruption was likely to have a measurable adverse effect on growth in the first quarter, although it was hard to quantify the precise extent of this", the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) said.

They said this was due to a strong global economy and an inflation rate that is running uncomfortably above target.

Official figures this week showed inflation in the year to February fell - to an annual rate of 2.7 percent - though that's still above the bank's target of 2 percent.

According to Vlieghe, lower productivity growth means the "new normal" wage growth might only be around three per cent, rather than four per cent.

The transition deal, which is expected to be confirmed Thursday at a meeting of European Union leaders, has, according to many economists, made it even more likely that rates will be raised in May, alongside the next set of quarterly economic projections from the Bank.

"Given the prospect of excess demand over the forecast period, an ongoing tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period would be appropriate to return inflation sustainably to its target", the BoE said.

Unexpected growth in the Australian unemployment rate in February has devalued the Australian Dollar, leading to a significant -0.6% decline against the Pound.

The Bank expects Q1 GDP growth to be in line with 0.5% growth in Q4 2017; however, it downgraded Q4 2018 GDP growth to 0.4%. At its meeting ending on 21 March 2018, the MPC voted by a majority of 7-2 to maintain Bank Rate at 0.5%. "All members agreed that any future increases in bank rate were likely to be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent". Core inflation - the measurement which strips out more volatile goods like energy prices - dipped to 2.4% from 2.7%, more than expected. But while that pound-driven increase in prices is expected to ebb, the Bank of England believes the pick-up in wages will continue to support inflation.

The Pound was boosted during late morning and noon trading Friday after the Monetary Policy Committee member Gertjan Vlieghe told an audience at a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) event the current robust state of the United Kingdom labour market probably warrants a sustained tightening cycle from the Bank of England (BoE).

"We have set up a new fintech hub that will sit at the heart of the Bank, to consider both how the Bank understands and how it applies fintech, relevant to its mission", Ramsden said.

British inflation jumped a year ago and remains at an elevated level after Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016.