BoE to hold fire on Sept 15, pull the trigger in November
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By Jonathan Cable
LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England will wait until its November meeting before slicing 15 basis points from Bank Rate in an effort to cushion the expected blow from the Brexit vote, a Reuters poll found.
Britain's decision in a June 23 referendum to leave the European Union has already started to tip the economy into a mild recession, a Reuters poll found last month, although recent purchasing manager surveys have been more upbeat. [ECILT/GB] [GB/PMIS]
Markets were surprised when the Bank did nothing in the weeks after the vote but in August it chopped 25 basis points from borrowing costs, restarted its quantitative easing program with a 60 billion pound top-up and announced two new stimulus schemes.
All but two of the 59 economists polled in the past few days said Bank Rate would be left at 0.25 percent on September 15 and none expected any change to the central bank's asset purchase program. The other two respondents had a 15 basis point cut penciled in.
But medians from the poll said Bank Rate would fall to 0.1 percent in November and then stay there until at least the end of 2018. There is only a 10 percent chance of a move next week and a still fairly unconvinced 55 percent likelihood of a cut in November.
"A further rate cut will depend on the economic evidence. Data has been pretty strong of late with the result that the probability I assign to a further cut has fallen over the past month," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
As well as cutting rates and restarting quantitative easing, last month's "sledgehammer to crack a nut" was accompanied by a pledge to buy 10 billion pounds of high-grade corporate debt and a scheme - potentially worth up to 100 billion pounds - to ensure banks pass on the full rate cut to borrowers.
The announcement took the Bank's commitment to buying government bonds to a total of 435 billion pounds and the majority of economists polled do not see that, or corporate bond purchases, increasing.
That leaves the Bank with scant policy options as Governor Mark Carney has ruled out negative interest rates as used by some other central banks. The lowest the Bank would go is 0.1 percent, according to a majority of respondents to the poll.
"There seems to be a distinct reluctance on the MPC to try negative interest rates, despite other central banks having already experimented with them," said Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics.
"Any further policy easing after the next rate cut would likely take the form of a further expansion of the Bank's asset purchases."
(Polling by Kailasha Bathija and Khushboo Mittal; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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