The pound has jumped up to its highest level against the dollar since the Brexit vote after a Bank of England (BoE) policymaker signalled a rate rise in the coming months.
Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) who has previously argued against a rate rise, said “we are approaching the moment when the bank rate may need to rise.”
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Sterling rose more than 1 percent against the dollar hitting $1.3610, its highest level since 24 June, the day after the UK voted to leave the EU.
“The BoE’s surprise call for a UK interest rate hike “in the coming months” has kick-started a buying euphoria in the brow-beaten British pound,” Jasper Lawler, head of research at the London Capital Group told Verdict.
The pound also gained more than 1 percent against the euro to rise above 1.13 euros.
“Until recently, I thought the appropriate response of monetary policy was to be patient, given modest growth and subdued underlying inflationary pressure,” Vlieghe said on Friday.
“But the evolution of the data is increasingly suggesting that we are approaching the moment when Bank Rate may need to rise,” he added.
He pointed to growing evidence that the UK economy was picking up.
UK unemployment fell by 75,000 in the three months to July, the lowest jobless rate in 42 years, according to figures published earlier this week.
Vlieghe acknowledged however that inflation may ease back, and that uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations may have “a larger impact on the economy than we have seen so far”.
Vlieghe’s comments come a day after the MPC voted 7-2 to hold rates steady at 0.25 percent.
Financial analysts have said that the committee could lift interest rates back to 0.5 percent as soon as November.
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“The possibility of a November or February hike is real, we think,” analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted.
Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club warned that the BoE has hinted at rate rises in the past which have never materialised but is confident that a hike is likely this time.
“Admittedly, the BofE has previously talked up the likelihood of an interest rate hike then failed to follow through, but there does seem to be a more concerted effort this time around and more unanimity within the MPC of the case for a hike.”
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