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We see only a small risk today of the MPC raising interest rates or sending a strong signal that a hike is imminent, for the reasons we set out in our preview of the meeting. The MPC, however, also must decide today whether to wind up the Term Funding Scheme-- TFS--launched a year ago as part of its post-Brexit stimulus measures.
The preliminary estimate of Q4 GDP was unambiguously strong and has forced us to modify our view of the likely timing of the next interest rate increase.
Figures yesterday from U.K. Finance--the new trade body that has subsumed the British Bankers' Association--showed that the mortgage market recovered over the summer.
All seven of Britain's major banks passed the Bank of England's stress test this year, in the first clean sweep since the annual test began in 2014.
Growth in the broad money supply slowed further in September, providing more evidence that the economy is losing momentum.
House prices continue to struggle for momentum, instilling caution among households. Admittedly, Halifax reported yesterday that its index jumped by 1.5% month-to-month in May.
Markets still see a near-40% chance of the MPC raising Bank Rate by the end of this year--the same as at the start of this week--despite the notable absence of comments from the Committee yesterday aimed at preparing the ground for a near term hike.
Yesterday's figures from trade body U.K. Finance showed that January's pick-up in mortgage approvals was just a blip.
For the record, we think the Fed should raise rates in December, given the long lags in monetary policy and the clear strength in the economy, especially the labor market, evident in the pre-hurricane data.
Halifax's house price index rose by an eye catching 1.5% month-to-month in March, superficially suggesting that the housing market is reviving.
Mortgage approvals by the main high street banks collapsed to 36.1K in December--the lowest level since April 2013--from 39.0K in November, according to trade body U.K. Finance.
A no-deal Brexit is a remote possibility. The U.K. government and EU are closing in on a deal and Brexiteers within the Conservative party have failed, so far, to trigger a confidence vote on Mrs. May's leadership.
The MPC likely will raise interest rates today, but as we explained here, it probably will revise down its medium-term inflation forecast, signalling that it is content with the further 35bp tightening currently priced-in by markets for 2018.
The MPC's meeting last week was notable not just for its glass half-full interpretation of the latest data, but also for its updated guidance on when it likely will begin to shrink its bloated balance sheet.
The imminent boost to lending rates from the shut- down of the Term Funding Scheme at the end of this month is widely under-appreciated.
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