Banks push back BoE rate forecasts after growth data shock

LONDON (Reuters) – Banks scrambled to push back their forecasts for the next Bank of England interest rate raise after data on Friday showed a sharp and unexpected slowdown in Britain’s economic growth.

The new forecasts anticipate the next BoE hike to take place in August this year or as late as 2019.

Before Friday’s GDP data most economists had expected the central bank to tighten monetary policy in May.

The change in banks’ forecasts signals a much weaker outlook for the pound, which has been among the best performing major currencies in 2018.

Last week expectations of higher rates lifted sterling to its highest since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

The likelihood that the BoE will not hike next month also means bond prices could rally further and presents a more volatile backdrop for the UK stock market.

UBS scrapped its estimate of a single rate hike in 2018 after the weaker-than-expected growth figures while Nomura, which has long been hawkish on UK interest rates, now sees a first hike in August.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Natwest Markets strategists pushed back their May rate hike calls to November.

“We view the (economic) slowdown as more serious, and see no prospect of hikes in 2018,” said UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, in a note.

John Wraith, a UBS economist, said inflation could fall back to the central bank’s target of two percent later this year and that concerns about talks between Britain and the European Union over the terms of their divorce could resurface.

Market expectations of a rate hike in May tumbled to less than 20 percent from around 50 percent, after GDP data showed Britain’s economy slowed to 0.1 percent growth between January and March, the weakest quarter since 2012.

Earlier this month the market was pricing in a 90 percent chance of a rate rise.

The market is now also forecasting no more than one 25 basis point rate hike over the remainder of 2018, from a near-certain two rate rises expected a fortnight ago.

Sterling GBP=D3 tanked more than one percent to $1.3748 and government bond prices surged in the aftermath of the data.

Reporting by Tom Finn and Saikat Chatterjee, Editing by Tommy Wilkes and William Maclean

Number of Build-to-Rent Homes Under Construction Up 47%

The number of build-to-rent properties either completed, under construction or planned has risen significantly across the UK in the past year.

Analysis by Savills, commissioned by the British Property Federation (BPF), reveals there were 117,893 build-to-rent homes recorded across all the stages of development in Q1 2018; a 30% increase on Q1 2017.

Completions, as well as build-to-rent homes under construction, have grown substantially by 45% and 47% respectively, whilst properties in the planning stage have increased by 19%.

Of all the new build-to-rent homes either completed, under construction or planned, 60,530 (51%) are in London, followed by 29,600 in the North West (25%), and 13,009 across the Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber (11%).

Ian Fletcher, the director of real estate policy at BPF, commented: “The build-to-rent sector is evolving quickly, with significant delivery in the regions and more houses, rather than just apartments, coming forward.

“Policy is also adapting, as to date the sector has grown without a planning blueprint. This is now changing. With the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework, local authorities will now have to specifically identify how many new rental homes their respective areas need.”

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Dominc Raab said: “The 45% increase in completed build-to-rent homes is good news, but we’re restless to do more.

“Our revised National Planning Policy Framework is a crucial next step in supporting the build-to-rent sector, reforming planning rules, and helping to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.”

Recent analysis from Landbay revealed that rental payments across the UK amount on average to 52% of a household’s disposable income.

Midlands Cities Among Top 10 Buy-To-Let Property Postcodes

London commuter belt towns fall down the rankings as Northampton, Leicester and Birmingham surge

Three of the top five locations for buy-to-let property investments are in the Midlands, according to new research.

Northampton, Birmingham and Leicester were all cited as top postcodes for buy-to-let, with strong rental growth of 2.38%, 3.91% and 4.35% respectively, according to independent mortgage lender LendInvest.

Whilst the Midlands regions have been steadily rising up the rankings, the report highlights the South West region as an up-and-coming market, as strong rental growth and healthy market activity has boosted the profile of cities like Bristol, Swindow, Truro and Gloucester.

Conversely, London and the South East continue to underperform, as declining rents deters further investment in these regional markets.

Historically strong performing commuter towns like Dartford, Romford and St Albans have recent begun to slide down the LendInvest buy-to-let rankings, in some cases by as many as 58 places.

However, the report notes that demand for housing will continue to support future growth: “Political changes are increasingly underpinning this uncertainty in the market, however the need for housing around the UK prevails.

“As such, we can expect the rental market to grow, with investors prioritising yields and rental price growth as valuable metrics to consider when purchasing a property.”

Over the last 10 years, rents have grown by 16% nationally, according to figures from Rightmove.