Bank of England minutes suggest rate hike not near

AP News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2011 5:52 AM
Bank of England minutes suggest rate hike not near

Seven of nine members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep the key interest rate at a low of 0.5 percent in July, according to minutes suggesting heightened growth concerns had reduced the likelihood of a hike in coming months.

Minutes to the meeting released on Wednesday showed that while committee members had a range of views on inflation risks, the overall sentiment was that "recent developments had reduced the likelihood that a tightening in policy would be warranted in the near term."

Heightened worries about Europe's debt crisis and a slowdown in the U.S. economy have weighed on global financial markets in recent weeks.

The minutes "suggest that an interest rate rise is now even less likely than before," said Vicky Redwood, senior U.K. economist at Capital Economics. "We still think that rates are unlikely to rise until 2013 or even 2014."

Spencer Dale and Martin Weale, who voted to raise the rate to 0.75 percent, were concerned that the factors under the recent weakness in the U.K. economy "had also negatively affected supply conditions, so their impact on medium-term inflation was likely to be muted."

As in previous months, Adam Posen was the only member of the committee to vote for an additional 50 billion pounds ($80 billion) to stimulate the economy through asset purchases, according to minutes released Wednesday.

That program paused in December 2009 after pumping 200 billion pounds into the economy.

Annual consumer price inflation fell to 4.2 percent in July from an earlier peak of 4.5 percent, though that is still more than double the bank's official target of 2 percent.