23 Sep 2021, 09:24

Bank of England on guard against spiking inflation

  LONDON, Sept 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The Bank of England is expected to stay
the course on interest rates and stimulus on Thursday, despite soaring
inflation and fears of runaway domestic energy costs.

  The British central bank's monetary policy committee is likely to keep its
key rate at a record-low 0.1 percent.

  Annual inflation surged in August to a nine-year high of 3.2 percent after
the pandemic-hit economy reopened.

  Policymakers will be mindful of Britain's flat recovery, and the impact of
the end of the government's furlough jobs support scheme next week. The
recovery slowed sharply in July, as rising coronavirus cases and supply
shortages offset a further lifting of lockdown restrictions.

  "Recent downside news on economic activity will counterbalance the upside
news on inflation," said Pantheon Macro analyst Samuel Tombs, predicting no
change in policy from the BoE.

  The British central bank has warned that inflation could soon strike 4.0
percent -- double its target -- impacted by a global supply crunch that was
sparked by the pandemic.

  Yet the BoE argues that high inflation will be temporary, echoing the US
Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.

  Wholesale gas prices, however, have soared this week to a record high,
sparking fears of rocketing energy bills as demand peaks during the cold
northern hemisphere winter.

  The UK economy rebounded 4.8 percent in the second quarter, but grew by an
anaemic 0.1 percent in July.

  On Wednesday, the US Fed said that while increasing Covid-19 cases have
slowed the US economic recovery, it may be ready to "soon" start removing

  The economy has healed to the point that the central bank may slow the pace
of its massive monthly bond purchases "if progress continues broadly as
expected", the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in a
statement after concluding its two-day meeting.

  - Gloomy news -

  BoE governor Andrew Bailey believes that recovery is flattening as a result
of the pandemic and global supply chain bottlenecks. The central bank "is
getting closer to raising interest rates, but the gloomy tone of the recent
news on the global and UK economies will have reduced the pressure to tighten
policy," said Capital Economics analyst Ruth Gregory.

   "So a rate rise this month does not seem likely."

  The decision on Thursday also comes as global central banks mull whether
they should unwind massive stimulus measures as economies recover.

  The BoE's cash stimulus pumping around the UK economy amounts to nearly
o900 billion ($1.2 trillion, 1.0 trillion euros).

  The inflation outlook was compounded this week by soaring energy costs that
prompted a shortage of carbon dioxide -- which is vital for the food

  The CO2 shortage triggered warnings of further pressure on food supplies
and prices.

  The food sector has already been hard hit by insufficient numbers of lorry

  The BoE will announce its latest monetary policy decision at 1100 GMT on



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