Bank of England on brink of biggest rate hike in 27 years

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LONDON: The Bank of England (pic) is expected to raise interest rates by the most since 1995 on Thursday, even as the risks of a recession mount, in an attempt to stop a surge in inflation from becoming embedded in Britain's economy.

LONDON: The Bank of England (pic) is expected to raise interest rates by the most since 1995 on Thursday, even as the risks of a recession mount, in an attempt to stop a surge in inflation from becoming embedded in Britain's economy.

Most investors and economists predict the BoE will increase its benchmark rate by half a percentage point to 1.75%, its highest level since late 2008 at the start of the global financial crisis, when it announces its decision at 1100 GMT.

Britain's main inflation rate has soared to 9.4% - and could hit 15% in early 2023 according to the Resolution Foundation think-tank - as the repercussions of Russia's invasion of Ukraine combine with post-pandemic strains on the world economy.

The BoE, which has already raised borrowing costs five times since December, said in June it would act forcefully if inflation pressures became more persistent.

Since then, inflation expectations among the public have eased off a bit and the pricing plans of companies have also moderated, potentially giving the Monetary Policy Committee a case for sticking to its quarter-point rate moves.

But the pressure on Governor Andrew Bailey (pic) and colleagues has intensified after big rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other central banks, weakening the value of the pound, which could add to inflation.

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But the pressure on Governor Andrew Bailey (pic) and colleagues has intensified after big rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other central banks, weakening the value of the pound, which could add to inflation.

"We know they're worried about sterling and in that sense they don't want to be left as the odd one out by not joining the 50-basis-point club," James Smith, an economist with ING, said.

A Reuters poll published on Monday showed more than 70% of 65 economists expected a half-point increase.

On top of everything else, the BoE's inflation-fighting record has been called into question by Liz Truss, the front-runner to be Britain's next prime minister.

She wants to set "a clear direction of travel" for monetary policy and to review the BoE's mandate.

But some analysts say the BoE could move warily.

Signs of a slowdown in the world economy are multiplying, core inflation fell in the latest data, and the central bank's new forecasts due on Thursday are likely to show inflation falling sharply in two and three years' time.

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