Starting off with the BoE, the MPC decided to take a wait-and-see stance which is a view widely seen lately taken by many central banks as inflation fears remain looming the atmosphere.
In the last meeting we saw a variety of opinions as arguments concerning growth and inflation split the decision heavily where six voted for a quarter point cut, two for steady and one for a more aggressive 50 basis point cut. The details of the decision will be released in their upcoming minutes due in two weeks time.
Although many expected the pause in interest rates at 5.00%, there are still further speculations that more rate cuts will be seen as soon as the next meeting to be held in June as the economy continues to slow. UK consumer confidence continues to shrink, according to Nationwide, as it had dropped to its lowest level since May 2004.
A cut was prevented again as inflation which has soared above the 2% bank target remains the issue on officials' minds! The surging commodities prices specifically food and crude prices are the main driver behind inflation yet Mr. King was keen on warning that wage growth will remain held back.
More details concerning inflation will be released on May 14 where the MPC will publish their latest inflation and output projections. As for the minutes, they will be published a week later at 9:30 am where we will find out exactly what went on behind closed doors.
As for the ECB, they had also decided to hold key interest rates steady at 4.00% as markets had already priced that in. Stalling growth and rising inflation made this the right thing to do.
At exactly 12:30 GMT, ECB's President Mr. Jean Claude Trichet stepped up to the stand and still held a rather hawkish stance at a time where people believed that his tone would change to dovish. Incoming data still show that there is growth in the Euro Area but the pace is moderating as uncertainties from the financial market turmoil remains visible while tensions in markets persist. They are hoping that global demand will support their exports therefore support overall growth. Maintaining price stability is the banks primary objective now that the HICP is at a level much higher than the central bank's 2.00% target rate at 3.3%. Inflation might be visible for the upcoming months.
Although economic fundamentals in the EU are sound downside risks to the outlook prevail while upside risks to inflation remain on the back of soaring crude and food prices. They will monitor all developments closely and are strongly committed to prevent second round effects. Concerning money and credit growth, the ECB sees growth to remain vigorous therefore yet having enough evidence to safely say that financial market turmoil has affected loans.
Employment has picked up in the Euro Zone and the unemployment has fallen. The ECB remains focused on wage risks and continue to monitor them. When asked whether the people will hear vigilance once again, his reply was that there was no reason for the word vigilance to be removed from their vocabulary.
The decision was unanimous but Mr. Trichet pleaded that he will say 'strong vigilance' once they see that the time is appropriate!
Mr. King and Mr. Trichet decided that the logical thing to do was to wait and see as timing will help them further evaluate the situation. The ghost of inflation still haunts both economies and is still their primary objective. The housing market in the UK is still taking a toll as it stagnates growth but the EU has no obstacles at the moment but to overcome the rally in prices! They will both WAIT AND SEE...