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BoE’s Carney gives no clear hint on rate hike timing

FXStreet (Mumbai) - The Bank of England (BOE) governor Carney today gave no clear signs as to when the central bank would raise rates. He feels the economy would require a higher level of neutral rates as it recovered from the financial crisis. He said that the BoE would raise rates when required. He added that he preferred to hold rates lower to encourage consumption.

He did mention that rate setters are debating on a possible time to raise rates after having kept rates at a record low for almost seven years now. “The question in my mind is when is the appropriate time for interest rates to increase,” Carney told lawmakers in London. He said preferred rate cuts to QE as an easing tool. He also said there will be room for more easing in the event of the economic downturn.

BoE to hold rates at record low for a while longer

Carney stated that the U.K. will have keep interest rates low “for some time” and that the pace of tightening will be “limited.” The markets that are most susceptible to the risks associated with rise in interest rates are real-estate markets, particularly housing, he added. He mentioned that the housing market continues to worry the MPC as well as FPC. Carney also noted that the level of household debt continues to remain high.

Carney productivity growth “could well be higher than we have assumed”. Carney feels productivity have likely exceeded the central bank's latest forecasts, thereby reducing the pressure on inflation.

Britain's economy is expected to be among the top performers in 2015. Wage growth remains however remains below pre-crisis levels and the latest inflation data showed prices fell in the 12 months to October. The BOE officials trimmed their growth and inflation forecasts and have highlighted Britain’s need to keep rates lower for a little longer. Considering the lower wage growth and poor inflation figures, the financial markets have been betting on a first BoE rate hike only in early 2017. Some economists are however of the opinion that the Bank will raise rates sooner, probably in the first half of 2016.

Haldane takes a dovish stance; Forbes expects neutral rates to pick up gradually

Chief Economist Andy Haldane, policy maker Gertjan Vlieghe and Forbes also testified. Haldane, Vlieghe and Forbes had together with governor Carney voted to keep the key rate at 0.5 per cent in November.

Haldane believes “risks to the UK from the external environment are skewed to the downside”. His stance was more dovish and he stated that he has a “neutral stance” on the outlook for monetary policy. In his annual statement to parliament's Treasury Committee he said he saw "balance of risks around UK GDP growth and inflation as skewed materially to the downside, more so than embodied in the November 2015 Inflation Report”

BOE official Kristin Forbes noted that UK economy was on a solid recovery path. She however acknowledged that borrowing costs would have to rise “sooner rather than later” on the tightening labor market and rising pay pressures. She however feels that wage costs have not increased enough to convince her that inflation will move quickly to reach target. She thus supports to hold record low rates for a while more. She expects neutral interest rate to start to tick up very gradually.

Policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe considers abolition of cash an "interesting idea". He however does not think of it as a policy measure for the central bank.
Vlieghe added, “rate cuts, more QE’ remain the “first line of defence.”

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