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Bank of England predicts 7.25% growth in economy as interest rates held at 0.1%

The UK’s economy could grow by more than 7% in 2021, according to the latest Bank of England forecast – the fastest pace since the Second World War.

Their projection is that the UK gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of a country’s economy – will rebound by 7.25% and mark the best year of growth since official records began in 1948.
This represents a sharper recovery than the central bank’s previous forecasts, with 5% growth previously expected.
It comes after the pandemic saw the UK suffer the biggest drop in output for 300 years in 2020, when it plummeted by 9.8%.

But the Bank’s quarterly set of forecasts showed it downgraded its growth outlook for 2022, to 5.75% from 7.25%.

The rosier view for the economy this year came as the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) held interest rates at 0.1%.

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The Bank kept its quantitative easing programme on hold at £895 billion, although one member of the MPC voted to reduce it by £50 billion given the brighter recovery prospects.
In minutes of the latest decision, the Bank of England said the lockdown is set to see GDP fall by around 1.5% – far better than the 4.25% drop first feared.

It also sharply cut its forecasts for unemployment over the year.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

The Bank said: “GDP is expected to rise sharply in 2021 second quarter, although activity in that quarter is likely to remain on average around 5% below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“GDP is expected to recover strongly to pre-Covid levels over the remainder of this year in the absence of most restrictions on domestic economic activity.”

But it warned over “downside risks to the economic outlook” from a potential resurgence of Covid-19 and the possibility that new variants may be resistant to the vaccine.

Source: iTV

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Bank of England holds interest rate at 0.1%

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to maintain the bank rate at 0.1%.

The BoE has warned banks to be prepared for the possibility of negative interest rates within six months.

The committee confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccination programmes are improving the economic outlook, and since the MPC’s last meeting, they say financial markets have remained resilient.

UK GDP is expected to have risen slightly in Q4 2020 to a level around 8% lower than in Q4 2019, which is stronger than expected in the MPC’s November report.

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The bank suggests that there would be a “rapid” recovery in GDP towards pre-pandemic levels this year, due to the vaccination programme.

However, the BoE outlined that the outlook for the economy remains “unusually uncertain, and that it depends on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health and how households, businesses and financial markets respond to these developments”.

The MPC has said that it will continue to monitor the situation closely, and if the outlook for inflation weakens, the committee is ready to take any “additional action necessary to achieve its remit”.

Nick Chadbourne, chief executive of LMS, said: “It’s no great surprise that Bank Rate remains at 0.1%, and it’s good news for homeowners as it keeps mortgage rates down.

“LMS data shows that on average, borrowers taking advantage of low rates decreased their monthly payments by £236 in December.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“Recently we’ve seen lenders prepare for a busy remortgage market in Q2 with a steady stream of high loan-to-value products returning to the market and the introduction of increasingly competitive rates.

“While product transfers can offer a great deal in terms of ease and efficiency, as competition between lenders grows, borrowers should be seeking advice to ensure they are accessing the best deals available on the market.”

Ian Warwick, managing partner at Deepbridge Capital, added: “The pace at which the vaccine rollout has progressed has been incredibly encouraging and will provide much needed hope for people and businesses alike.

“The government has worked hard in an incredibly difficult environment to create a capital lifeline to many businesses via the BBLS and CBILS, as well as long-term support for growth-focused companies via the likes of the Enterprise Investment Scheme, but now we would urge that there needs to be even greater support – both via financial and via sustainable growth initiatives.

“Agile companies, which have survived 2020 and provide a product or service which has a genuine medium to long-term solution to a recognised problem, will continue to develop and grow but require capital to do so.”

Frances Haque, chief economist at Santander UK, said: “The MPC’s decision to leave bank rate unchanged at 0.1% was expected this month given rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, which will help boost confidence and support growth in the UK economy.

“However, the Bank of England remains committed to intervening should the financial markets and the UK economy need additional support measures as we move through 2021.“

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Bailey: Bank of England will reverse QE before raising rates

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey believes the Bank of England must begin reversing quantitative easing before hiking interest rates from record lows.

Bailey said today that a reveral of QE should come before lifting rates from their historic lows of 0.1 per cent, signalling an upending of long-standing Bank of England policy.

Bailey said the time for such action was not now, but that the high level of central bank asset purchases “shouldn’t always be taken for granted”.

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“When the time comes to withdraw monetary stimulus, in my opinion it may be better to consider adjusting the level of reserves first without waiting to raise interest rates on a sustained basis,” Bailey wrote in an article for Bloomberg.

Last week the Bank of England announced a further £100bn of stimulus to take its bond-buying target from £645bn to £745bn for 2020. However, it said the rate of QE would decrease for the rest of the year.

The Bank’s monetary policy committee slashed interest rates to 0.1 per cent back in March to combat coronavirus.

Bailey’s comments today signal a shift away from his predecessor Mark Carney’s strategy.

Carney had said the Bank would raise rates before trying to sell bonds back to the market.

But Bailey said today he did not want high Bank of England purchases of government bonds to become a long-standing scenario.

“Elevated balance sheets could limit the room for manoeuvre in future emergencies,” he said.

The Bank of England has purchased huge amounts of government bonds since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

By Joe Curtis

Source: City AM

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Bank of England ‘not contemplating’ negative interest rates, says governor Andrew Bailey

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has said Threadneedle Street is not considering cutting interest rates to below zero.

The governor said that it would be unwise to rule anything out, “particularly in these circumstances,” in an online question and answer session with the Financial Times.

Yet he said: “It is not something we are currently planning for or contemplating.”

His comments come after deputy governor Ben Broadbent said the Bank was open-minded about its next steps. He said of negative interest rates: “These are the balanced questions the committee has to think about.”

Although once unimaginable, negative interest rates have been put in place in various central banks around the world over the last decade. The European Central Bank (ECB), for example, charges banks to hold money with it in an effort to force them to lend.

Negative rates come with pros and cons. They help spur lending by penalising banks for sitting on money. But they also limit the profits banks can make through lending and the interest on savers’ deposits.

The Bank of England slashed its main interest rate to 0.1 per cent, its lowest ever level, in March.

Bailey said that one of the main obstacles to cutting interest rates into negative territory would be the optics of the complex move.

“I think from a communications point of view, and therefore from a reaction and expectations point of view, it is a very big step.”

He said it must be realised that negative interest rates cause banks problems. The Eurozone’s biggest banks have long complained that the policy hurts their profits.

Should the Bank decide to unleash more stimulus, most analysts think it will ramp up its £645 billion quantitative easing (QE) programme. Under QE, the Bank creates digital money and uses it to buy bonds – mainly government Gilts – in the secondary market.

The BoE stopped short of launching more bond-buying at its last meeting but could do so in June.

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM

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Bank of England rate preview: markets braced for GDP forecasts

Andrew Bailey hosts his second BoE meeting, but the volatility could come from forecasts rather than any shift in their monetary policy framework.

When and where?

With the Covid-19 crisis keeping everyone locked up, the forthcoming Bank of England (BoE) monetary policy meeting will be virtual, taking place on Thursday 7 April 2020. Most notably, this announcement will take place at 7am local time, rather than the usual midday timing.

Will we see any change to monetary policy?

The coronavirus crisis has seen central banks across the globe push the boat out in a bid to minimise the fallout from global lockdowns that have affected businesses and individuals alike.

In the UK, Governor of the BoE Andrew Bailey didn’t mess about, slashing interest rates to 0.10% and expanding the quantitative easing (QE) program by £200 billion in his first week as the governor. That QE programme stands at £645 billion, and remains a tool which could be expanded when it is deemed necessaryto support the governments push to mitigate the virus fallout. Some have speculated that the timing of this meeting (pre-market open) could highlight a potential market moving announcement such as further QE in the offing. On the interest rate side of things, there is arguably little left to benefit from implementing lower rates, with the restrictions on movement and businesses inhibiting the ability to borrow and invest.

With that in mind, markets are currently pricing in a 99% chance that the committee will keep rates steady at the forthcoming meeting.

What should we look out for?

Perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting comes in the form of the forward looking guidance on where inflation and particularly growth could be in the quarters ahead.

With UK prime minister Boris Johnson showing few signs of reopening the economy in the coming weeks, the global growth picture for second quarter (Q2) is dour. For markets, this expectation of huge economic contraction could see the pound hit hard, with some looking for a figure in the -35% region for the quarter. From an inflation perspective, we are seeing global disinflation take hold, and that is likely to be reflected in forecasts. Remember that low inflation also means looser monetary policy for the foreseeable future irrespective of the coronavirus response needs.

Aside from the growth and inflation forecasts, markets will also be on the lookout for guidance on how the BoE sees the recovery playing out. Thinking back to the Federal Reserve (Fed) and European Central Bank (ECB) meetings from last week, there has been a clear focus on avoiding expectations of a sharp v-shaped recovery for growth, with the road back to health likely to be drawn out given the speculation that it could take over a year to create a vaccine or cure for this virus.

Where now for the pound?

The pound has been on the rise since its mid-March low, with the pair ultimately reaching resistance at the 200-day simple moving average (SMA) level. That has proven a key roadblock to further gains, with the second attempt to break higher once again faltering at that indicator.

This could be a bearish signal coming into play, with the rally seen over almost two-months looking like a potential retracement and precursor to further downside. Much of that sentiment will be driven by wider market movements, with GBP/USD looking remarkably like the FTSE 100 given the inverse correlation between the dollar and global stocks. Nevertheless, there is a chance we could see the pound suffer if forecasts signal potentially a huge decline in Q2 gross domestic profit (GDP).

With that in mind, we could ultimately top out at the 200-day SMA, with a breakdown below 1.2247 providing a bearish reversal signal. As such, the wider outlook will be determined by the ability to break either 1.2247 or 1.2648.

By Joshua Mahony

Source: IG

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Bank of England brings forward release time of May 7 rate decision

The Bank of England said on Friday it will release the result of its next Monetary Policy Committee meeting at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) on May 7, rather than at the usual release time of 12 p.m.

“This is to accommodate the joint publication with the interim Financial Stability Report,” the BoE said.

As well as the MPC’s decisions on interest rates and bond-buying and its new economic forecasts in a quarterly Monetary Policy Report, the BoE has brought forward a meeting of its Financial Policy Committee to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the finance industry.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey will brief reporters after the decision, and the contents of the briefing will be made public at 0900 GMT.

The BoE cut rates twice in March to a new low of 0.1% and ramped up its government bond-buying by a record 200 billion pounds. It is expected to hold off on fresh monetary policy action next week, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg

Source: UK Reuters

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Coronavirus: Bank of England holds rates but paints gloomy economic picture

The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold at the record low level of 0.1 per cent but signalled it is prepared to take further action to tackle the effects of coronavirus.

The Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) today said it “stands ready to respond further as necessary to guard against an unwarranted tightening in financial conditions, and support the economy”.

Threadneedle Street also gave a gloomy assessment of the economy. The MPC said: “The economic consequences of [coronavirus] are becoming more apparent and a very sharp reduction in activity is likely.”

The Bank slashed interest rates to 0.1 per cent at two emergency meetings over the last two weeks. That is the lowest interest rates have ever been in the Bank’s 325-year history.

The rate cuts were designed to pump liquidity into the economy during the coronavirus outbreak. It is also meant to shore up lending and balance sheets.

The BoE has also ramped up its bond-buying, pledging to purchase £200bn more debt. It said today it will continue with this quantitative easing. The Bank added: “If needed, the MPC can expand asset purchases further.”

On top of this, the Bank has cut so-called capital buffers for banks, giving them more cash to lend. It will also buy companies’ short-term debt.

The Bank of England today decided to maintain current policy for the time being. But it said it is prepared to take further action if needed.

The MPC added that it is looking at “the pass-through to banks and building societies’ lending rates of the recent reductions in bank rate”.

Ensuring the extra liquidity reaches the right firms has been a concern of the Bank. It yesterday sent a letter to banks, along with the government and the City watchdog, telling them to keep lending to businesses to ensure that previously viable companies do not fail due to the crisis.

Risk of ‘longer-term damage to the economy’

The Bank of England today gave a stark assessment of the outlook for the UK economy. However, it warned predictions were currently deeply uncertain.

“There is a risk of longer-term damage to the economy, especially if there are business failures on a large scale or significant increases in unemployment,” the MPC said.

“There is little evidence as yet to assess the precise magnitude of the economic shock from Covid-19. It is probable that global GDP will fall sharply during the first half of this year. Unemployment is likely to rise rapidly across a range of economies, as suggested by early indicators.”

Paul Dales, chief UK economist at consultancy Capital Economics, said: “After unleashing unprecedented support in two emergency meetings over the past two weeks, the Bank of England took a break today.”

However, he said that if stress starts to show in the UK’s bond markets, “expect the Bank to do more by providing more liquidity and/or increasing its asset purchases”.

He suggested the BoE might follow the US Federal Reserve and “announce open-ended asset purchases”.

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM

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Bank of England Slashes Interest Rates Again, to Record Low of 0.1%

The Bank of England cut interest rates for the second time in two weeks, to bolster the economy against the coronavirus epidemic.

The latest cut, announced Thursday, took interest rates from 0.25% to 0.1%—the lowest level in the Bank’s 325-year history.

The bank also increased its quantitative easing stimulus package, buying an additional £200 billion of UK government and corporate bonds to pump cash into the economy and keep down the cost of borrowing.

New governor Andrew Bailey, who took over from Mark Carney just Monday, said the measures were designed to calm markets spooked by the mounting death toll from COVID-19, crises in other economies and rumours that London will soon be forced into complete lockdown.

“The obvious increase in the pace and severity of Covid-19, which has built during the week, was something we had to assess and respond to, we can’t wait for the hard economic data before we act,” he said.

Markets reacted optimistically to the news, with the FTSE ending the day up 1.4% and the pound rising against the dollar.

The cut in interest rates and quantitative easing are “highly unlikely to highly unlikely to prevent a sizeable hit to [UK] GDP this year,” analysts at Japanese investment bank Nomura said. But they added, “there can be no question that the monetary and fiscal authorities are throwing everything they can at this problem to support firms and households, cushion demand as much as is reasonably possible, and to reduce the long-term hit to supply.”

However, there will be questions about what further action the Bank of England can take, after Bailey reiterated his reluctance to use zero or negative interest rates.

Bailey said the Bank was considering further monetary boosts it could make. “We are not done. The Bank of England will do what the public needs in the days and weeks ahead.”

As interest rates plunged, some lenders moved quickly to withdraw tracker mortgages from the market.

Henry Jordan, Mortgage Director at Nationwide, said: “With a second cut in interest rates in just over a week, bringing Bank Rate down to an unprecedented 0.1%, we have taken the decision to temporarily withdraw all of the society’s residential tracker mortgages from sale.”

Other lenders, including Barclays, HSBC and Santander, said they would reduce their tracker and variable rate mortgages in line with the new Base Rate.

Among HSBC’s tracker mortgages is a two-year deal which charges just 0.64% above the Bank of England base rate. Now pegged at 0.74%, the deal is believed to be the lowest interest rate ever offered for new mortgages. It’s available to buyers with a 40% deposit, on properties worth up to £5 million—but buyers will need to act quickly. Brokers expect it too will be withdrawn from the market by next week.

Broker Aaron Strutt of Trinity Financial said the recent cuts had demonstrated the value of tracker mortgages. “About 95% of mortgages are on a fixed-rate basis, but if you’d taken out a tracker a couple of months ago your rate would have effectively halved.”

Source: Money Expert

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Bank of England could lower rates further to shield against coronavirus hit

The Bank of England is expected to further cut interest rates and restart quantitative easing to ease the impact of coronavirus on the economy, as former Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief Andrew Bailey replaces Mark Carney as governor.

Bailey starts his new job today and is now tasked with steadying the economy against a shock from the outbreak.

One of his first moves could be to cut interest rates as low as 0.1 per cent in the coming weeks, economic experts have predicted.

The Bank of England last week cut interest rates to 0.25 per cent from 0.75 per cent.

And further measures aimed to shore up banks and the economy were yesterday announced by the Bank of England, in a coordinated move with the Canadian, European, US, Japanese and Swiss central banks.

Monetary policymakers have essentially cut the cost and increased the volume of loans it can provide to banks in US dollars, as the US Federal Reserve cut US interest rates over the weekend.

Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “The coordinated action to boost liquidity for banks announced late last night by the Bank of England is designed to prevent the current coronavirus health and economic crisis from spiralling into a full blown financial crisis.

“The idea is that this will nip in the bud last week’s signs that banks are becoming less willing to lend to each other in money markets, which is what caused major problems during the financial crisis.

“We know that a big economic hit is coming, but can only speculate about its size and duration. For what it’s worth, we think a short-term hit to GDP of around 2.5 per cent is possible. While we think (hope) that a financial crisis, which would deepen and lengthen that hit, will be avoided, we do think the Bank of England will have to do more by cutting interest rates by a further 15bps to 0.10 per cent and restarting quantitative easing.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Panetheon Macroeconmics, agreed the Bank of England is likely to announce new stimulus measures.

He said: “The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) might be worried that if they overcook stimulus now and add to the downward pressure on sterling, they will only make life more difficult next year.

“But no one can be confident at this stage that the temporary shock from the coronavirus will not evolve into a self-perpetuating downward spiral in demand, reinforced by falling asset prices and tightening credit conditions.

“The near-term bout of low inflation also might have lingering counterproductive effects on inflation expectations and wage growth, if confidence is not shored up soon.

“So despite the medium-term outlook for inflation, we expect the MPC to cut Bank Rate to its effective floor of 0.10 per cent, from 0.25 per cent, at its scheduled meeting on March 26, and then to restart its QE programme at its meeting on May 7.”

Written by: Lana Clements

Source: Your Money

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Bank of England Slashes Interest Rates to Bolster Economy During Pandemic

The Bank of England has announced an emergency cut to interest rates in an effort to limit the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its first emergency meeting since the 2008 financial crisis, the monetary policy committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to slash the base rate from 0.75% to 0.25%.

The Bank said the cut was in response to the “economic shock” of the COVID-19 outbreak and would “help to support business and consumer confidence at a difficult time, to bolster the cash flows of businesses and households, and to reduce the cost, and to improve the availability, of finance.”

Mark Carney, outgoing governor of the Bank, said the economic damage of the virus wasn’t clear yet but suggested the UK economy could shrink in the coming months. Policymakers had already witnessed a “sharp fall in trading conditions,” including in spending on non-essential goods, he said. Other nations are experiencing similar slowdowns and the Chinese economy, the world’s second-largest, is forecast to contract in the first quarter.

However, he said the downturn wouldn’t be as severe as the recession which strangled the UK economy in 2008-09. “There is no reason for it to be as bad as 2008 if we act as we have, and if there is that targeted support.”

The cut was announced on Wednesday, in tandem with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget, which included billions of pounds of measures to support the economy during an extended outbreak of the virus.

The steps were coordinated to have “maximum impact,” Carney said.

The cut takes interest rates back to their lowest level in the Bank’s 325-year-history. Rates were previously cut to 0.25% in August 2016 and subsequently raised in increments in November 2017 and August 2018.

The cut will reduce savers’ yields but benefit some homeowners and those looking to remortgage or purchase a new property. The approximately 10% of homeowners with tracker mortgages will see their monthly repayments fall quickly. Lenders are also expected to respond to their lower borrowing costs—and to tumbling swap rates—by slashing mortgage rates.

When the base rate was last 0.25%, some banks offered two-year fixed-rate mortgages for less than 1%, although borrowers needed a large deposit to qualify. Currently, the best two-year fixes are from NatWest (1.19%) and Barclays (1.21%) but better offers will surely follow.

Mark Harris, chief executive of the mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “This is a bold and decisive move from the Bank of England. Swap rates have tumbled in recent days and both the reduction in base rate, plus lower swap rates, will lead to even cheaper mortgage products.”

Consumers can expect already melting savings rates to fall even further and the best deals to be withdrawn from the market. Customers using savings accounts at high-street banks are already reaping historically low interest rates—usually of below 0.5%—leaving banks with little room to trim them further. But while rates on mainstream accounts are unlikely to dip into the negatives, as they have on some accounts in Denmark and Switzerland, they could flatline at 0%.

Source: Money Expert