The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sets monetary policy to meet the 2% inflation target, and in a way that helps to sustain growth and employment. At its meeting ending on 6 February 2019, the MPC voted unanimously to maintain Bank Rate at 0.75%. The Committee voted unanimously to maintain the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £10 billion. The Committee also voted unanimously to maintain the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion.
The MPC’s latest projections for inflation and activity are set out in the accompanying February Inflation Report. They are conditioned on a smooth adjustment to the average of a range of possible outcomes for the UK’s eventual trading relationship with the European Union and the gently rising path of Bank Rate implied by market yields.
The world economy has continued to slow over recent months, with a broad-based softening across all regions. That deceleration reflects the past tightening in global financial conditions, as well as the initial impact of trade tensions on business sentiment. Global growth is expected to dip below trend in coming quarters, weighing on UK net trade, before rising to around potential rates. Activity is projected to be supported by the more accommodative monetary policies in all major economic areas that markets now expect.
UK economic growth slowed in late 2018 and appears to have weakened further in early 2019. This slowdown mainly reflects softer activity abroad and the greater effects from Brexit uncertainties at home. These uncertainties could lead to greater-than-usual short-term volatility in UK data, which may therefore provide less of a signal about the medium-term outlook. Heightened uncertainty and elevated bank funding costs are assumed to subside over time, as greater clarity on future trading arrangements is assumed to emerge. These developments, together with looser fiscal policy, provide support to domestic spending. In the Committee’s central projection, quarterly GDP growth recovers later this year, with four-quarter growth rising to 2% by the end of the forecast period.