Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Bank 'set to hold off on more QE'

Economists expect the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee to keep interest rates at their record low

Bank of England policymakers are expected to hold off from any further economy-boosting moves when they gather this week following better-than-expected growth figures.

The economy sprung back to life in the third quarter when gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1%, ending the longest double-dip recession since the 1950s. City experts predicted growth of 0.6%.

Despite concerns that the underlying picture is bleak, economists expect the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to keep interest rates at their record low of 0.5% and hold its quantitative easing (QE) stock at £375 billion.

There had been expectations of a further cash injection into the economy, taking QE asset purchases up by a further £50 billion, but this has cooled off in light of the GDP figures, recent comments made by policymakers and signs of division between MPC members.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "While it still looks to be a close call, we believe that the 1% quarter-on-quarter spike in GDP in the third quarter makes it more likely than not that the Bank of England will hold off from more quantitative easing."

Both the Governor and the deputy governor at the Bank, Sir Mervyn King and Paul Tucker, have suggested in recent speeches that the impact of QE is reaching its limit.

Meanwhile, minutes from the October meeting suggested the MPC was divided over the benefits of pumping more emergency cash into the economy.

The documents said some members had questioned the impact that further QE - also known as money printing - would have on the broader economy.

Furthermore, the Bank has reported an encouraging start to its Funding for Lending scheme with 30 groups, including the five largest banks in the UK, signing up to the £80 billion initiative.

Funding costs have dropped one percentage point, the Bank said, while the number of loans approved for house purchase rose by 2,103 to 50,024 in September.

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