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BoE: Interest rates to stay low

Robyn Hall

May 14, 2014

With the economy steadily returning to normal Mark Carney sought to allay fears of any sudden jump in interest rates.

But Carney signalled tougher rules against excessive lending to home buyers today by saying “mortgages are not just for Christmas”.

He added: “Securing the recovery is like making it through the qualifying rounds of the World Cup. That’s a major achievement, but obviously it’s not the ultimate goal.

“The real tournament in football is about to begin, and for us it’s just beginning in the economy.”

David Cameron tweeted: “There’s more to do, but it’s welcome unemployment is down again.”

Simon Crone, vice president, mortgage insurance Europe for Genworth, said: “Mark Carney made a vital point today by observing that high loan to value mortgages are still well below pre-crisis levels.

“We are still in the early stages of bringing this vital part of the mortgage market back to life and it would be a major error to consider the job done.

“It’s been less than a year since the availability of low-deposit mortgages began to improve.

“That’s simply not enough time to address the backlog of first time buyer demand and correct the problems that have arisen through a lack of options for younger people to become homeowners without their parents stepping in to pay their deposits.

“The Help to Buy mortgage guarantee continues to suffer from mistaken identity over culpability for house price inflation – nowhere more so in London and the South East.

“Nevertheless, it remains a stop-gap measure to tackle a long term deficit of responsible lending to first time buyers at a level they can realistically afford.

“A permanent solution to improve housing supply needs a permanent solution to improve mortgage availability to go with it, with private insurers able to relieve taxpayers from the role of mitigating risk.”

Tony Wilson, head of strategy at the foreign exchange specialists FEXCO, said: “In monetary policy terms, the Bank of England and its European counterpart aren’t so much driving on opposite sides of the road as heading in opposing directions.

“But while the ECB is speeding towards a rate cut into negative territory, the Bank of England is making only slow progress towards an interest rate rise.

“Ahead of today’s report, the markets had convinced themselves that Mark Carney would confirm that a rate rise would come early next year, or even earlier. That expectation drove the Pound to a 16-month high against the Euro.

“But the Governor’s refusal to put a date on a rate rise sparked a sell-off on the currency markets that saw Sterling lose 0.5% against the Dollar in just a few minutes.

“Though it later recovered, the Pound’s psychologically important 1.70 mark against the Greenback – not seen since August 2009 – has once again slipped back out of reach.

“There is much for the markets to digest in the detail of this Inflation Report; but with monetary policy on either side of the English Channel so wildly divergent, expect to see Sterling continue to outperform the single currency and further volatility in the Pound / Euro rate.”


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