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Week ahead: Interest rates | UBS | Boris | Greens

Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey: hinted at a softening of policy

Economy: There is growing speculation that the Bank of England may hold back from imposing an 11th consecutive monthly increase in interest rates when its monetary policy committee (MPC) gathers on Thursday.

Governor Andrew Bailey had already hinted at a softening of interest rate policy before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank caused wider financial markets to run for the hills.

The MPC was divided 7-2 in favour of a rise to 4% at its last meeting on 2 February.

One way or another the markets expect the current UK cycle to end at 4.25% with the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasting inflation to fall to 2.9% by the end of the year, just above the Bank’s 2% target.

A day before the MPC meets, the US Federal Reserve will set its own interest rate amid an unexpected banking fall-out that has seen the government and a range of banks forced to take emergency action to stabilise the market and stop panic from spreading.

Expectations are settling on a 0.25% hike in the Fed Funds rate to 5% being the most likely outcome from this meeting. Markets also now expect rate cuts down to the 4.25% or even 4% level by the end of 2023, say analysts at AJ Bell.

The markets still thinks the Swiss National Bank will hike borrowing costs by 50bp at its meeting on Thursday, just a few days after providing more than 160 billion francs in loans and guarantees to the new UBS grouping.

Politics: Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson will publish evidence in front of the Commons Privileges Committee on Wednesday over whether he misled Parliament about parties in No. 10 during lockdown.

Boris Johnson seen at party during lockdown (ITV)

Mr Johnson will argue on Monday that an inquiry about Downing Street lockdown parties is unlawful and biased.

If the committee finds against Mr Johnson, he could be suspended from the Commons. A suspension of at least ten days would automatically trigger a recall petition, enabling his constituents to force a by-election. 

The Scottish Green Party conference opens on Saturday amid chaos in the SNP’s leadership, its future as a partner in the Scottish government under a new First Minister, and big questions still being asked about the deposit return scheme.

City: The most anticipated results announcement is likely to be Friday’s half-year statement from JD Wetherspoon. Chairman Tim Martin can be expected to comment further on the Chancellor’s decision to introduce a duty differential between pubs and supermarkets, which Mr Martin has been demanding for some time.

Calendar

Monday 20 March

Tuesday 21 March

Wednesday 22 March

Thursday 23 March

Friday 24 March

Saturday 25 March

Calendar of events supplied by AJ Bell, with additions

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