UK lenders have shunned the latest offer from the Bank of England for emergency liquidity ahead of the EU referendum, just two days before voters head to the polls.
In the second of the Bank's extraordinary auctions of short-term financing, where banks can swap assets for cash, only £370m was taken up by City institutions – the lowest in a single round since January 2014. Today's auction was the last chance banks had to arrange extra lending facilities with Threadneedle Street before the vote.
The figure compares to the £2.5bn which was snapped up by lenders in the first round last week and the £3.2bn banks asked for in the standard auction two weeks ago. It does take the monthly total above £6bn – the largest since the current system was brought in place.
Central banks across the world have made it clear that they will extend extraordinary funding to basically any bank that needs it around the time of the EU referendum in a bid to make sure financial markets do not seize up due to a lack of liquidity.
The Bank will be holding another special round of its long-term repurchase agreements next Tuesday – after the vote. Under the scheme banks are able to swap illiquid assets for cash for a period of six months before the transaction reverses.
This morning, sterling continued its rally, hitting a five-month high against the dollar as the tide seemed to be turning towards remain with less than 48 hours until polls open.