June 20, 2024 2:59 pm

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

The Bank of England has opted to maintain interest rates at 5.25% for the seventh consecutive time, a decision that follows the latest economic indicators. Recently released official figures indicated that inflation has eased to the Bank’s target of 2%, marking the first time in almost three years that it has reached this level. This development was a significant factor in the Bank’s deliberations as policymakers weighed the implications of current economic conditions on monetary policy.

Despite reaching the inflation target, the Bank’s decision underscores its cautious approach amidst broader economic uncertainties. The stability in interest rates aims to support continued economic recovery while managing potential risks to inflation and growth. Policymakers are closely monitoring various factors, including global economic trends and domestic employment figures, to gauge the appropriate timing for any future adjustments in interest rates.

The decision to hold rates steady reflects the Bank’s assessment that while inflation has moderated, underlying economic conditions remain complex. This stance aims to provide stability for businesses and households, allowing them to navigate the ongoing economic landscape with confidence in borrowing costs. Looking ahead, the Bank will continue to assess incoming data and market developments to inform its monetary policy decisions in line with its mandate of maintaining price stability and supporting sustainable economic growth.

The decision to maintain the current high of 5.25% interest rates by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was widely anticipated by economists and financial markets. Out of the nine committee members, seven voted to keep rates unchanged, while two supported a modest 0.25 percentage point reduction.

Governor Andrew Bailey emphasized the committee’s cautious approach, citing the need for confidence that inflation will remain under control. This stance led to the decision to hold rates steady at 5.25% for the time being, reflecting their commitment to economic stability and price control measures.

Read more: Bank of England leaves door open for rate cut in August

After the announcement, investors now assess a 44% chance that the Bank will lower interest rates in August, compared to a 56% likelihood of rates remaining unchanged. Looking ahead, market sentiment indicates a 71% probability of a rate cut occurring in September.



Some members of the MPC expressed the need for further evidence showing a sustained decrease in inflation before considering a rate cut.

However, Swati Dhingra and Dave Ramsden, two committee members, reiterated their stance in favor of a rate reduction, citing expectations that inflation would return to more typical levels.

The committee underscored that its decision was not influenced by the timing of the upcoming general election on 4 July.

The Bank of England initiated a series of rate hikes starting in December 2021 to tackle soaring inflation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.

The recent surge in inflation peaked at 11.1% in October 2022, marking the highest level since 1981. Despite a recent decline, policymakers remain cautious, wary that inflation could rise again later this year.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on Wednesday, services inflation, including sectors like hospitality, only dropped to 5.7% in May, which was below initial forecasts.

As a result of these figures, financial markets have adjusted their predictions for the timing of the Bank of England’s first interest rate cut of the year.

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that the UK’s consumer prices index (CPI) inflation rate for the year ending in May had reached its lowest level since July 2021. This decrease was largely attributed to a decline in food prices, although there was a marginal rise in the cost of motor fuel. The slight uptick in fuel prices offset some of the downward pressure on inflation.

The prospect of an interest rate cut this week faced a setback in recent weeks due to unexpectedly high wage growth. Wage growth is a significant driver of inflation, and its stronger-than-anticipated performance raised concerns among policymakers considering a rate cut. This factor added complexity to the Bank of England’s decision-making process regarding monetary policy adjustments.

Officials at the ONS highlighted that services inflation, covering sectors like hospitality, only decreased to 5.7% in May, which was below initial expectations. This data point influenced financial markets to revise their predictions regarding when the Bank of England might implement its first rate cut of the year. The lingering concern over inflationary pressures, despite the recent CPI figures, suggested that the economic landscape remains uncertain.

As policymakers continue to monitor economic indicators closely, including inflation trends and wage developments, the decision on whether to adjust interest rates is likely to hinge on future data releases. The ONS report underscored the ongoing challenge of balancing economic stability with inflation management amidst evolving global and domestic economic conditions.

Economist Ruth Gregory from Capital Economics expressed confidence in the likelihood of a rate cut in August, suggesting rates could potentially decrease to 3% by the following year. She noted that given recent unexpected increases in services CPI inflation and wage growth, alongside the impending election, it was unlikely the Bank would cut rates at the current meeting.

Ms. Gregory pointed out that despite the decision to hold rates steady, the language in the Bank’s recent minutes indicated a readiness among MPC members to consider a move in August. She characterized the decision to maintain rates as finely balanced among committee members.



Some critics expressed dissatisfaction with the Bank’s decision. Jonathan Bone, a mortgage adviser at Better.co.uk, criticised the Bank for being “stubborn” and “hesitant to act despite widespread criticism,” noting the urgent need for mortgage holders to see relief.

Similarly, the Federation of Small Businesses voiced disappointment. National chair Martin McTague stated, “The current high plateau of rates is hindering growth as small businesses struggle to secure affordable financing for expansion. With inflation now back on target, delaying a base rate cut risks stifling potential signs of economic recovery, especially after April’s stagnant GDP growth.”

This decision contrasts with the European Central Bank’s recent rate cut, made despite an increase in eurozone inflation from 2.4% to 2.6% in May.


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