Bank of England set to keep interest rates at 0.5 per cent - again - this week

Jake Cordell
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Governor Mark Carney Presents Bank of England's Financial Stability Report
Mark Carney has never voted for an increase in interest rates since he became governor of the Bank of England in July 2013 (Source: Getty)

The Bank of England will keep interest rates on hold for the 85th month in a row when it meets on Thursday, economists and analysts have predicted.

Interest rates, which are set by the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), made up of governor Mark Carney, a number of senior Bank officials and some external figures, have been at a record low of 0.5 per cent since March 2009, and financial markets are not expecting that to change anytime soon.

“Anything else than a 9-0 vote for unchanged interest rates … will be a major surprise,” said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global.

The solitary hawk to have voted for a rate rise in recent months, Ian McCafferty, dropped his latest calls for a hike in February and with less than impressive economic data having emerged since they last met, there is nothing to suggest he - or anybody else on the MPC - will have changed their mind.

“Weaker-than-anticipated inflation, lingering uncertainty in global financial markets and concerns about the impact that the EU referendum is having on the real economy means that this month’s interest rate decision is likely to be another unanimous one to keep interest rates on hold,” said Paul Hollingsworth, UK economist at Capital Economics.

Read more: City A.M.’s shadow Monetary Policy Committee

Inflation data - also out this week - is expected to show that prices increased by just 0.4 per cent over the last 12 months, according to a Reuters poll - well off the Bank’s two per cent target.

Productivity slipped back in the final quarter of last year, bringing into question how strong future wage growth will be, while sterling has lost 11 per cent of its value since November. Additionally, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (Niesr) said it expected GDP growth to come in at just 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 - half the 0.6 per cent rate at the end of last year.

Expectations of when the Bank will eventually budge and raise rates from 0.5 per cent have shot up since the start of the year - with the market not pricing in the first increase until early 2020 and futures prices putting the chances of rates actually being cut at somewhere close to 40 per cent.

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