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Bank of England seen keeping rates steady after data disappointment

10 May 2018

A combination of a 7-2 split, policy makers downplaying soft first-quarter economic growth and BOE Governor Mark Carney signaling a hike this year remains likely should be enough to provide a "modest uplift to short-term United Kingdom rates", Patel said, "or at the very least keep the curve supported at where it now sits".

Pedestrians walk past the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, May 15, 2014.

The Bank of England has voted to keep interest rates steady once again at 0.5 per cent, shunting back a decision to hike rates after a slew of weak economic data.

Investec Economics experts predict the Monetary Policy Committee will vote 7-2 to hold rates, with Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders likely to be the only dissenters following their call for a rise to 0.75% in March.

The economy expanded at its slowest pace in five years in the first three months of 2018.

Britain's economy grew more slowly than most of its peers a year ago after a Brexit-driven jump in inflation hit consumer spending power and some businesses delayed long-term investment.

The underwhelming figures took some of the wind out of expectations that the United States economy is going from strength-to-strength and dampened hopes that today's CPI figures will deliver on expectations headline inflation will have ticked up last month.

"The recent weakness in data for the first quarter had been consistent with a temporary soft patch, with few implications for. the outlook for the United Kingdom economy", the majority of BoE Monetary Policy Committee members said.

The Bank is expected to cut its 2018 growth forecast from the 1.8% predicted in its quarterly report in February and also lower inflation predictions.

This is entirely because the rise in the cost of imported goods, caused by the weaker pound, is fading from the inflation figures more quickly than anticipated, relieving the pressure on households sooner. But with growth slowing, the centralbank could struggle to raise rates at all this year, he added.

Last month, one forecasting body, the EY Item Club, had predicted two rate rises this year.

Since he joined the BoE in 2013, Carney has signaled several times that the time was nearing for rates to rise from the historic low of 0.5 percent reached during the 2008-09 financial crisis, only for economic data to surprise him. The BoE raised rates for the first time in more than a decade in November, reversing an emergency rate cut made after June 2016's Brexit vote.

In February, Carney said rates might need to rise somewhat faster than markets had expected.

Financial markets had priced in a 90% chance of a rise in May at one stage following the bank's last set of economic forecasts, but this has dropped to around 10% after the GDP data shock.

Only a handful of analysts now think the central bank will ignore the recently weak growth and take a longer-term view that focuses on potential inflation pressures from unemployment at its lowest since 1975 and some signs of wage growth inching up.