Bank holds interest rates at 0.75% after August hike

Growth is set to be better than forecast but doubts still hang over Brexit
Growth is set to be better than forecast but doubts still hang over Brexit

The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold at 0.75% after August’s hike, but it confirmed further increases are likely to be needed to rein in inflation.

Members of the Bank’s nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep rates unchanged, having backed a quarter-point rise last month - only the second since the financial crisis.

The Bank said economic growth is on course to beat expectations for the third quarter thanks to a bumper July, but it cautioned over “greater uncertainty” on Brexit.

In minutes of the latest rates meeting, the Bank revealed its internal estimates show economic growth is set to pick up pace to around 0.5% in the third quarter, from 0.4% between April and June.

It had previously predicted growth would remain steady at 0.4% in the third quarter.

Official figures on Monday showed the UK economy enjoyed a growth spurt in July, with expansion of 0.3% in the month and 0.6% on a three-month basis thanks to a surge in spending driven by the World Cup and heatwave.

The Bank said while the outlook for consumer spending had not changed substantially, “if anything, spending in the third quarter might prove to be slightly stronger than expected”.

Its decision to hold rates came as it said the August set of forecasts appear broadly on track.

But it said: “Were the economy to develop broadly in line with the August inflation report projections, an ongoing tightening of monetary policy would be appropriate to return inflation sustainably to the 2% target at a conventional horizon.”

Sterling was largely unmoved against the US dollar following the rates decision, trading up 0.1% on the day to 1.30. Versus the euro, the pound was also up 0.1% at 1.12.

The Bank signalled last month that rates would need to rise by around a quarter point a year over the next two or three years to bring inflation - currently running at 2.5% - back to target.

However, the Bank confirmed that anxiety over Brexit is building amid fears of a no-deal scenario.

It said in the report: “Since the committee’s previous meeting, there had been indications, most prominently in financial markets, of greater uncertainty about future developments in the withdrawal process.”

The Chancellor confirmed on Tuesday that Bank governor Mark Carney will stay on until January 2020, extending his term by seven months to help see the UK through Brexit.

Economists are not expecting any more rate rises until after the March 2019 Brexit date due to the increased uncertainty.

Minutes of the meeting revealed that while inflation is set to rise, the recent energy price cap details unveiled by regulator Ofgem would mean it set to fall by more than expected over the course of 2019.