Bank of England hints at rate hike in ‘coming months’

Rate rise on the horizon
Rate rise on the horizon

The Bank of England has signalled it may hike interest rates in the “coming months” to cool surging inflation as economic growth shows signs of picking up.

Members of the Bank’s nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 to keep interest rates on hold at 0.25%, as widely expected.

But the Bank gave its strongest signal yet that a rate hike is on the horizon as it said all policymakers believed “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus was likely to be appropriate over the coming months”.

It also reiterated that rates may need to rise by more than expected in financial markets.

In minutes of its latest rates decision, the Bank said there was a “slightly stronger picture” for the economy since its forecasts last month thanks to signs of a firmer housing market, stronger employment and a rebound in retail and new car sales.

Meanwhile, Brexit-fuelled inflation is set to climb above 3% in October - higher than the Bank previously expected.

It raised the prospect of a potential rate rise as soon as November, as it said it would “undertake a full assessment of recent developments” at the time of its next quarterly inflation report in two months.

The minutes showed that while two MPC members - Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders - repeated their call for an immediate rise to 0.5% in the latest decision, the majority of members thought the outlook for growth was still unclear.

In the minutes, the Bank said: “While there had been some signs of growing momentum in activity into the second half of the year... it was too soon to judge whether stronger consumption growth would be sufficient to offset continuing weakness in business investment.”