Interest rates up for the first time since 2007


The interest rate rise was the first the United Kingdom has seen in more than a decade.

BoE Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent said on Friday that the Bank's signal that it may need to raise interest rates two more times is "not a promise", responding to a question about the BoE's previous attempts to signal the likely path for interest rates, which were knocked off course by twists and turns in the economy. The effect of borrowing costs for businesses is for the moment considered negligible.

The Bank estimates that nearly two million mortgage holders have not experienced an interest rate rise since taking out a mortgage.

"All members agree that any future increases in Bank Rate will be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent", it added, signaling further gradual rises in the future.

The increase to 0.50 percent is now set to raise repayments for borrowers and therefore stretch household budgets already under pressure from weak wage growth and soaring consumer prices in Britain. Taken together they suggest the economy is growing at a quarterly rate of 0.5 per cent, IHS Markit said, picking up from growth of 0.4 per cent in the three months to September.

The last cut was in August 2016 when the rate was dropped by 0.25% to shore up the economy after the vote to leave the EU.

The BoE did not, however, alter its quantitative easing, or cash stimulus, policy, which it first embarked upon to encourage commercial lending after the financial crisis.

The Bank is looking to cool surging inflation, which has been sent higher by sharp falls in the pound since the Brexit vote.

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From January, the Frankfurt institution will reduce its purchases of government and corporate bonds to €30 billion a month, from €60 billion at present.

Kathleen Brooks, an analyst at City Index trading group, said that if the bank had failed to increase rates "its credibility could be on the line".

GBP/USD at hourly intervals, capturing market reaction to Thursday's rate hike.

Opinion is split, however, on whether the hike is a one-off or a sign of things to come.

Now, the fear is that inflation, stoked by the pound's sharp depreciation since the referendum, is running too far ahead of the central bank's 2% target.

Economists believe rates could hit 1% by the end of 2019 to bring inflation to target, although the timing and degree of further hikes are highly dependent on the economy and Brexit impact.

Fidelity International has a similar view, while Aberdeen Standard Investments sees scope for more than one increase. JLL predicts that there will be steady, small rises up to 2.25% in its new property market forecast report. "It's a negative supply shock".

If the pound does begin drifting lower, inflation will remain elevated and real earnings will keep sinking - and Carney and his colleagues will find themselves back at square one.