Interest rates expected to be kept on hold

Updated: 

Interest rates are expected to be kept on hold next Thursday after last month's emergency cut and amid recent signs of a post-Brexit bounce-back in the economy.

But experts believe further action is still on the cards before the end of the year, despite signs that the initial shock of the referendum decision may have passed.

Bank governor Mark Carney said he was "absolutely serene" about policymaker action after MP allegations that the Bank unleashed its August rate cut and economy-boosting package without sufficient evidence.

In a Treasury Select Committee hearing, he said the cut in rates to a new all-time low of 0.25% from 0.5% and stimulus package worth up to £170 billion had already begun to cushion the blow of the Brexit vote.

Mr Carney confirmed the chances of a technical recession - two quarters in a row of falling output - had gone down since the Bank's moves last month, which was described by experts as "sledgehammer" action.

Recent closely-watched industry data has suggested that major sectors of the economy rebounded strongly in August, with the powerhouse services industry seeing a record-breaking jump in activity after a shock contraction in July.

Mr Carney welcomed signs of a rebound, but suggested some of this was down to the Bank's "'timely, comprehensive and concrete'' action.

The Bank's measures had helped support house prices in particular, he added.

Policymakers have already said that another rate cut is likely by the end of the year, to a little above zero.

Howard Archer, chief UK European economist at IHS Insight, said so far the encouraging economic data was not enough to derail further monetary policy moves. 

He said: "The recent evidence of UK economic resilience has seemingly diluted the case for more Bank of England stimulus in the immediate future."

"Nevertheless, further Bank action remains very much on the cards, and it could still very well happen in November."

Meanwhile, tumbling food prices are expected to keep inflation rooted at 0.6% when official figures for August are announced on Tuesday.

Economists are predicting the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation will be unchanged from July, thanks in part to the supermarket price war.

The battle, which saw Morrisons slash prices at the beginning of August and Asda cut prices on Friday, looks set to put downward pressure on the cost of living.

The headline figure is also expected to be held steady by a slight drop in air fares, with prices falling more in August than they did in the same month a year ago.

Economists will also be waiting to see if the UK can drum up another round of record-breaking employment figures when July's data is published on Wednesday.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics will show whether or not employers continued to bolster their workforces in the first month after the EU referendum result.

It comes after unemployment continued to fall in the run-up to the Brexit vote. The employment rate reached a record high of 74.5%, with 31.8 million people in work in the three months to June.