Belfast Telegraph

Faster growth could lead to further rise in interest rates

By Holly Williams

Bank of England boss Mark Carney has braced borrowers for further and faster interest rate hikes after stronger-than-expected growth in the economy.

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Policymakers on the Bank's nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to leave rates unchanged at 0.5%.

But Mr Carney said rates would need to rise sooner and by more than expected at the time of the Bank's last forecasts in November to get inflation back to target.

It leaves the door open to a potential rate hike as soon as May, with markets also now pencilling in more than three hikes within three years.

Mr Carney refused to be drawn on the exact timing of future hikes, but said they would need to rise "somewhat earlier and by a somewhat greater degree" than expected at the time of the Bank's last quarterly forecasts in November.

He stressed rises would be limited and gradual, assuring borrowers the UK will not return to interest rate cycles "experienced in the past", when historically there were two rises a quarter and borrowing costs stood at 5% on average.

"We are not talking about going back to those levels or that historic pace," he said.

The report sent the pound surging more than 1% against the dollar and euro, while the FTSE 100 Index fell 1%.

It comes after financial markets suffered a brutal sell-off at the start of the week in response to fears that rising inflation could spark interest rate hikes across a number of economies.

Financial markets believe there is a 50/50 chance of rates being raised to 0.75% in May, when the Bank's next set of forecasts are due, with at least two more by the end of 2020, taking the rate to 1.25%.

Belfast Telegraph