Britain's economy slowed more sharply than first thought in early 2017 as consumers felt the hit from the rise in inflation that followed the Brexit vote and exporters struggled to benefit from the weak pound. Thursday's downbeat official data - which contrasts with signs of acceleration in many other economies - comes two weeks before Britons vote in a national election.
UK's inflation rate rose last month to its highest since September 2013, official figures show. Inflation now stands at 2.7% - up from 2.3% in March - and above the Bank of England's 2% target. The main reason was higher air fares, which rose because of the later date of Easter this year compared with 2016.
Inflation in the United Kingdom held steady last month, as rising prices for food and clothing were offset by lower air fares. The UK Office for National Statistics, ONS, said inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index remained at 2.3%.
The Bank of England has asked City financial firms in London to submit Brexit contingency plans, with Governor Mark Carney warning of major economic harm if negotiations between Britain and the EU falter.
The Bank of England (BOE) held interest rates at the record low level of 0.25% and maintained asset purchases at £435 billion on Thursday. The decision, which was made by an 8-1 majority, had been almost unanimously anticipated by central bank watchers with many expecting the BOE to choose caution until more clarity emerges on the Brexit process and the U.K. economy's capacity to manage outside of the European Union.
The Bank of England revised up its economic growth forecasts for the British economy for the coming three years, crediting much of the improvement to the government’s decision to ease up on austerity in the wake of the country’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Bank of England voted unanimously on Thursday to keep the UK's main interest rate at a record low of 0.25%, and anticipated that the next rate move could be in either direction. The last change was a rate cut in August, in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU.
The Bank of England has raised its near-term growth and inflation forecasts on Thursday following the slide in sterling seen since the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union. The bank decided Thursday to keep interest rates at the record low level of 0.25% and maintan its quantitative easing (QE) purchase targets at up to £10 billion for corporate bonds and £435 billion for U.K. government bonds.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney says he will step down in June 2019. It means he will serve one additional year beyond the five-year term he committed to when he took the post, but will still be two years short of the usual eight years governors serve.
The Bank of England said on Thursday it was still likely to cut interest rates to just above zero later this year, even though the initial Brexit hit to Britain's economy would be less severe than it expected only last month. The Bank said its nine rate-setters were unanimous in their decision to keep Bank Rate at its new record low of 0.25%, the lowest in the BoE's 322-year history.