UK Holds Base Rate at Record Low of 0.25%

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to hold the Bank Rate at a record low of 0.25 percent and to leave the stock of purchased assets at £435 billion on September 15th 2016, in order to bring inflation back to 2% target and to support growth and employment. The central bank also said that a majority of members would support a further rate cut in November if the outlook at that time is consistent with the August Inflation Report projections.

Excerpts from the Monetary Policy Summary:

The package of measures announced by the Committee at its August meeting led to a greater than anticipated boost to UK asset prices. Short and long-term market interest rates fell notably following the announcement; corporate bond spreads narrowed, and issuance was strong; and equity prices rose. Since then, some of the falls in yields have reversed, driven by somewhat stronger-than-expected UK data and a generalised rise in global yields.

Many banks announced cuts in Standard Variable Rate and Tracker mortgage rates in line with the cut in Bank Rate. Deposit rates fell in August, although on average these falls were slightly smaller than the cut in Bank Rate. Fixed rates on new mortgage lending also fell. 

Overall, while the evidence on the initial impact of the policy package is encouraging, the Committee will monitor closely changes in asset prices and in interest rates facing households and firms and their effect on economic activity.

The MPC set out its most recent detailed assessment of the economic outlook in the August Inflation Report.  Based on the data available at that time, the Committee judged that the UK economy was likely to see little growth in the second half of 2016.  In light of the tendency for survey indicators to overreact to unexpected events, the Committee expected some bounce-back in surveys of business and consumer sentiment following the sharp falls in the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union. Nevertheless, since the August Inflation Report, a number of indicators of near-term economic activity have been somewhat stronger than expected.  The Committee now expect less of a slowing in UK GDP growth in the second half of 2016. 

Twelve-month CPI inflation remained at 0.6% in August, lower than projected at the time of the August Inflation Report, and well below the 2% inflation target. As the unusually large drags from energy and food prices attenuate, CPI inflation is expected to rise to around its 2% target in the first half of 2017, consistent with the August Inflation Report, albeit with the projection a little lower over the remainder of 2016 than had been anticipated in August. 

The Committee’s view of the contours of the economic outlook following the EU referendum had not changed. News on the near-term momentum of the UK economy had, however, been slightly to the upside relative to the August Inflation Report projections. The Committee will assess that news, along with other forthcoming indicators, during its November forecast round. If, in light of that full updated assessment, the outlook at that time is judged to be broadly consistent with the August Inflation Report projections, a majority of members expect to support a further cut in Bank Rate to its effective lower bound at one of the MPC’s forthcoming meetings during the course of this year.  The MPC currently judges this bound to be close to, but a little above, zero.

UK Holds Base Rate at Record Low of 0.25%

BoE | Joana Ferreira |
9/15/2016 11:24:16 AM