Market hopes for a rate cut

UK STOCKS are expected to rise this week, led by Abbey National and other mortgage lenders in the hope that the Bank of England will cut interest rates to combat the worldwide economic slowdown.

"It looks like the market will go higher," said Nick Brind, manager at Exeter Asset Management. "Concern about the financial market will put pressure on the Bank of England - banks will gain on that."

Gilts are expected to be mixed, with short-dated gilts rising on interest rate hopes. Longer-dated bonds could fall on concern about a possible crisis in the global financial system. "The short end is the best place to be," said Steve Andrew, a fixed-income analyst at Merrill Lynch. "A rate cut is virtually certain, and the long end looks vulnerable to worries about another hedge fund or a bank going under and liquidating bond positions."

That concern was heightened after the US unexpectedly cut rates on Thursday evening. Some analysts took that as a sign the Fed is concerned about the health of the financial system, following the collapse of the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund last month.

On Friday, the benchmark 10-year UK government bond fell, leaving its yield little changed at 5.05 per cent. Some investors "are worried the authorities might pump too much money into the system too quickly and cause problems further down the line by spurring inflation", said Colin Harte, at Gartmore Investment Management.

The Fed move "certainly boosted expectations for a Bank of England rate cut next month", said Philip Shaw, the chief economist at Investec. The yield on two-year gilts - among the most responsive securities to changes in expectations for UK official interest rates - fell 18 basis points to 5.24 per cent.

The MPC is next scheduled to meet on 4 and 5 November, and while the comm- ittee could meet and cut rates before then, many analysts said it was unlikely.

"I wouldn't rule out a cut between meetings but I don't think it's very likely," said James McKay, head of economic strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. He expects a quarter-point cut on 5 November.

The FT-SE 100 index rose 6.4 per cent last week to 5133.1 The FT-SE banking index gained 10.5 per cent. HSBC, the parent of HongKong Bank, climbed 12 per cent last week, helped by a decision by Hong Kong banks to cut their prime lending rates on Friday. Copyright: IOS & Bloomberg

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