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Bank of England holds interest rates at 0.1% while inflation prediction bumped to 4%

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Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. Photo: PA

The Bank of England (BoE) opted to keep interest rates on hold at 0.1% on Thursday in London, with policymakers voting unanimously on the decision.

Threadneedle Street also held its gilt purchase target at £875bn ($1.1tn) and its corporate bond target at £20bn.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted by a majority of 7-2 to continue with its existing programme of UK government bond purchases.

Economists had anticipated the bank could signal a tapering of bond-buying support, following a similar move at the US Federal Reserve last night.

"The 7-2 vote to keep the bond-buying target unchanged very much highlights the growing hawkish tilt that the MPC is starting to exhibit and suggests the case for a policy tightening on the Committee is growing," said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.

The bank said on Thursday that CPI inflation was projected to rise temporarily in the near term, to 4% in 2021 Q4, owing largely to developments in energy and goods prices. It said CPI inflation was expected to fall back to close to the 2% target in the medium term.

It warned that since the August MPC meeting, the pace of recovery of global activity has showed signs of slowing. 

"Against a backdrop of robust goods demand and continuing supply constraints, global inflationary pressures have remained strong and there are some signs that cost pressures may prove more persistent. Some financial market indicators of inflation expectations have risen somewhat, including in the United Kingdom," it said.

Market watchers have previously warned that an interest rate rise at the wrong time could tip many borrowers over the edge into more debt and put the breaks on recovery.

Recent soaring gas prices and price inflation due to supply chain issues will have complicated the picture in the future rate path. 

Read more: UK economy slows in September amid rising inflation

"Most committee members are still likely to sit firmly on their hands and play a waiting game until well into next year, even when it comes to rolling back the mass bond buying stimulus programme," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

Analysts at ING say that markets are pricing in a rate hike in around six months time. 

Markets are "currently expecting the first 15bp move [in February 2022], with a further 25bp rate hike priced for the second half of next year, too," they said.

Although this prediction is likely to disappoint, they continued. "We think markets are jumping the gun, and instead we expect the first rate rise to come in the second half of 2022, probably in November."

Watch: Will Interest rates stay low forever?

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