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Pound falls as Bank holds rates and cuts forecasts

04 August 2017, 12:38 | Myrtle Vega

Pound falls as Bank holds rates and cuts forecasts

Dovish BoE Announcement Sends Euro Pound (EUR GBP) Rocketing to Highest Level Since 2011

The Bank of England has cut it forecasts for Britain's economy, saying it expects growth to remain "sluggish".

About 15 staff members, some wearing facemasks of Governor Mark Carney, staged a picket outside the BoE's central London headquarters on Tuesday.

The timing of a rate hike has been complicated by the weakness in growth in the British economy.

Matthew Brittain, investment analyst at Sanlam UK, said: "This marginally more dovish sentiment has no doubt been helped by the departure of long-time hawk Kristin Forbes, and puts the BoE firmly back on track to its "slow and steady" normalisation approach".

"Monetary policy can only do so much".

"A rate hike later this year looks a tall order and the 35% probability of a November rate hike priced into the United Kingdom curve looks fair at this stage (although we do see downside risks)", he added.

The pound GBPUSD, -0.7108% tumbled to $1.3119 after having trading as high as $1.3267 earlier in the day.

Although it is operationally independent of the government, the BoE has also limited pay rises to one per cent for most staff, in line with other public bodies.

Speaking at the same event, Sir Charlie Bean, also a former Bank deputy, suggested that clarifying the UK's future relationship with the European Union sooner rather than later would boost the British economy and exports.

The current pound to euro exchange rate is €1.11220 (at the time of writing).

"Of course, it could perhaps be that traders are only concerned with the near-term expectations of the BoE given its history of bad forecasts and the sheer amount of uncertainty in the economic outlook due to Brexit".

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The bank downgraded its growth projections for 2017 to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent and that for 2018 to 1.6 percent from 1.7 percent. It kept its 2019 forecast at 1.8 percent.

In broad terms, the Bank's inflation forecasts remained similar to the last set: the CPI rate is set to rise to close to 3% in the coming months, and will remain above its 2% target all the way through to 2020.

Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders were the two MPC members that dissented in favor of a 25 basis points rate hike, expressing concerns over rising inflation.

Britain's pound hit $1.32 on Monday for the first time in over 10 months, as investors eyed this week's Bank of England "Super Thursday" for a steer on whether record-low interest rates could soon be lifted for the first time in more than a decade.

The Bank said it might raise borrowing costs a bit more than investors expect over the next three years.

"Brexit even overshadows consumer borrowing, which the Bank has lately sounded anxious about".

Nevertheless, as anticipation mounted ahead of the Bank of England's (BoE) August policy meeting and the release of the latest quarterly Inflation Report the mood towards Sterling remained generally positive.

The split on the MPC over what to do with rates highlights the challenge facing the central bank.

Revenue was $2.8 billion, up 120.5% year-over-year, and above the $2.55 billion analysts were expecting. Against the USA dollar it hit lows of $1.3113.

The Bank slashed its economic growth forecasts for 2017 to 1.7% from 1.9% and lowered next year's estimate to 1.6% from 1.7%.

But a raft of weaker data - as well as deep uncertainty about the impact of Brexit - called that view into question.



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