Bank of England tipped to hold back from sanctioning further quantitative easing

 

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The Bank of England is expected to hold back from unleashing additional emergency support for the economy this week.

It will maintain interest rates at their record low of 0.5% and leave the targeted size of its quantitative easing (QE) programme at £375 billion as the Bank works through £50 billion of asset purchases announced in July.

Most economists think the Bank's nine-strong monetary policy committee (MPC) will sanction further QE in November.

There has been little change in the economic outlook since the MPC's last meeting, although SSE's 9% hike in energy bills from next month and the impact of US drought on food prices have threatened the inflation outlook.

The Bank currently expects the rate of inflation - which increased to 2.6% in July - to fall to the Government's 2% target by the end of this year.

Governor Sir Mervyn King and his colleagues will also want more time to assess the impact of the UK's £80 billion "funding for lending" scheme, which was launched in the summer with the aim of unclogging the flow of credit.

Investec Securities economist Victoria Clarke said: "Over the past month the outlook hasn't shifted drastically, but inflation risks do appear to have nudged up.

"Even so we continue to see the committee backing more asset purchases in November when the current target of £375 billion is reached."

The committee has also considered cutting rates below the current level of 0.5% - a move that once seemed improbable - although the Bank continues to favour QE as its economic weapon of choice.

This week's two-day MPC meeting, which concludes on Thursday, is the first for former CBI chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty, who has replaced Ian Posen.

PA

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