The minutes of Bank of England's (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee meeting held on January 13 showed that policymaker Martin Weale joined Andrew Sentance in voting for a 25 basis points rate hike.
“For two members, the evidence suggested that the balance of risks was already sufficiently clear to warrant an immediate increase,” according to the BoE minutes released on Wednesday. The minutes said most members on the policy panel agreed that inflationary risks had moved upwards.
Though the minutes reveal that policymakers are inching towards a near-term rate hike this may not happen after all, according to an analyst at capital Economics. Senior UK Economist Vicky Redwood says Tuesday's weak GDP figures have altered the picture somewhat.
GDP growth in the fourth quarter shrunk by 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, after rising 0.7 percent in the third quarter, the latest report by the U.K. Statistical Department showed on Tuesday.
Economists were expecting GDP growth of 0.4 percent. The economy grew by 1.7 percent in the quarter, compared with the same period a year ago.
Yesterday’s GDP figures could well dissuade the waverers from rushing into a premature policy tightening. What’s more, some members are still convinced that policy should not be tightened – see Mervyn King’s dovish speech last night, and Adam Posen’s continued vote for more QE, said Redwood.
For now, then, we still expect rates to stay on hold this year – and even if we do see a rate hike, it might have to be quickly reversed if the economy is as weak as we expect.