UK interest rates: Pound sterling drops sharply after Bank of England hike

The pound was trading down 0.82 per cent against the dollar after the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee voted unanimously to hike the base rate from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent.

Sterling had been trading down around 0.4 per cent earlier in the session and appeared to reverse those losses in the immediate aftermath of the decision. However, the currency took another dip and fell to $1.3020 an hour after the Bank announced its decision.

The pound also dropped against the euro, tumbling by 0.34 per cent to €1.122.

Sterling’s decline coincided with the Bank’s press conference, during which governor Mark Carney said Threadneedle Street would continue to follow a strategy of “ongoing, limited and gradual tightening of monetary policy” in order to keep inflation within target. He added that this could lead to three further rate rises over the next three years.

“Despite the intentionally hawkish signals it appears that traders aren’t buying it, with a failure for sterling to gain on what is, on the face of it at least, a positive hawkish message, a potentially ominous warning sign for the currency going forward,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst, at brokerage XTB.

“Looking ahead, the curve has barely budged on today’s news with a further hike before year-end still seen as highly unlikely and an additional increase not priced in until September 2019.”

Jordan Hiscott, Chief Trader at ayondo markets, said it was notable that sterling had fallen “despite the fact the market had priced in the expectation of a 0.25 per cent rate hike”.

“A couple of things stand out for me. Firstly, the recent economic data is not consistent enough to warrant a rate increase and future near-term increases. Brexit and the fractious nature of negotiations will likely also affect this

“Secondly, the last time the MPC voted unanimously to increase rates was May 2007, and that didn’t turn out too well then.”

Business groups were critical of the central bank’s decision to hike, with the IoD’s senior economist, Tej Parikh, saying: “The rise threatens to dampen consumer and business confidence at an already fragile time.”

UK interest rates: Which banks and building societies have passed on increase to customers?

Savers may have to wait months to see the benefit as lenders keep rates low…

 

After the Bank of England’s interest rate hike on Thursday, some high street lenders have again been quick to pass on the increase to their mortgage customers, but many have been less keen to boost savings rates at the same time.

Alistair Wilson, head of retail platform strategy at Zurich, said it could take months before savers see the impact of the rate hike “as with last November’s quarter of a per cent increase, which has only resulted in an average 0.07 per cent rise on easy access accounts.”

HSBC said its tracker mortgages would go up 0.25 per cent on Friday to reflect the base rate while its other mortgage and savings rates will be reviewed.

A spokesperson for HSBC said its savings rates were “not directly linked to the Bank of England base rate”, but said customers will be informed of the outcome of the review “at the earliest opportunity”.

Virgin Money has increased the rate on its tracker mortgage by 0.25 per cent.

RBS, which owns both NatWest and Ulster Bank, has raised the interest rate on its rate-linked products by 0.25 per cent and said it is reviewing its variable rate products.

An update will be provided “ shortly”.

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax has not yet made any announcement on its variable rate but said: “The 0.25 per cent Bank of England base rate increase will form part of the ongoing rate reviews across our product ranges.”

Rate tracking products will be increased by 0.25 per cent from September, Lloyds said.

Barclays said variable mortgage rates will increase to 5.24 per cent from 4.99 per cent from 1 September. Buy-to-let variable rates will rise to  5.74 per cent 5.49 per cent on the same date and trackers will rise 0.25 per cent.

Santander said it is reviewing all variable rates.

All tracker mortgage products will move in line with the change and base-rate linked loans to UK businesses linked to the base rate will move in line with the change and in accordance with the terms of the deal.

All savings products linked to the base rate will move in line with the increase from the end of August.

A Santander spokesperson said: “When we review rates, we consider both the interest we charge for borrowing money, and the rate of interest we can offer on deposits.”

Mark Carney signals ‘earlier’ interest rate hikes for the UK

TSB said it was reviewing its variable interest rates on mortgages and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

Yorkshire Building Society will raise variable savings rates by 0.25 per cent on variable savings accounts from 14 December. “As a mutual which is owned by its members, it is our priority to deliver highly competitive and sustainable rates for both our savers and borrowers,” the lender said.

Nationwide has not yet announced rates, while the Post Office will raise its variable mortgage rates 0.25 per cent from 1 September.

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East Midlands is Most Confident Region for House Price Growth

Consumer confidence in the housing market has increased by its largest rate since 2016, according to the latest Housing Market Sentiment Survey by Zoopla.

Over eight in ten homeowners (84%) predict house prices in their area will grow by 6.9% over the next six months.

This is a marked increase on the previous survey held in November 2017, when a price increase of 4.9% was forecast by 70% of consumers.

The East Midlands remains the most confident region, with 93% expecting prices to rise compared to 79% in November’s survey, closely followed by the East of England (90%).

Although North Eastern homeowners have the least optimism, market confidence has nearly trebled in the region from 22% in November to 63%. In London, 76% of consumers are anticipating prices in the capital to grow.

However, in terms of the rate at which prices are predicted to rise, homeowners in the West Midlands are the most optimistic, predicting property prices in the region will grow by 10.6% in the next six months.

Zoopla believes that the rise in confidence is a result of wider activity in the housing market, due to a seasonal increase in momentum.

Inflation and poor growth see Bank of England ditch rate rise plans

Interest rates could stay low for as long as another two years, as falling inflation and weak economic growth force the Bank of England to scrap plans to push up rates in the coming months.

Mark Carney is expected to hold rates at 0.5pc at Thursday’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting, postponing a highly-anticipated rate rise for at least three months. The freeze will disappoint savers who have laboured under historically low rates for almost a decade – and a boon to borrowers who get extra time with cheap money.

But economists now suspect that inflation will keep falling quickly towards the Bank’s 2pc target, making it harder for policymakers to raise the rate.

Poor GDP growth at the start of this year and signs of a slowing global economy could also dent the Bank’s longer-term inflation estimates.

If that forces it to cut back its inflation forecast then the case for higher rates could evaporate altogether.

“They are stuck. The Bank can’t raise rates now, the economic numbers have been too weak recently,” said Martin Beck at Oxford Economics. “They should not have raised rates in November, closed the term funding scheme or worried that credit growth was too strong – those three things have contributed to the economy slowing.”

Markets are currently pricing in only two rate rises by August 2019, but George Buckley, an economist at Nomura, thinks even this may be too many if inflation is slowing sharply.

“Should the Bank publish a forecast with inflation below target based on market rates that would be quite a statement, as it would imply that even limited market pricing for rate hikes might prove too much,” he said.

UniCredit’s Daniel Vernazza believes it will be at least another year before rates rise to 0.75pc.

Kallum Pickering at Berenberg Bank fears the Bank has missed its chance. “They should have hiked by this stage of the economic    cycle, but they cannot do it now because of the soft data,” he said.

One Third of Millennials Will Continue to Rent in Their Retirement

The number of families with children living in rented property tripled between 2003-2016…

The Resolution Foundation has proposed a series of reforms aimed at protecting tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.

According to the think-tank’s research, half of all millennials – people born between 1980 and 1996 – will be living in rented property up to their 40s, whilst a third are likely to be renting beyond retirement.

Furthermore, four out of ten millennials aged 30 are already renting, double the rate of the previous generation and four times that of baby boomers, whilst the number of families with children lived in the private rented sector has grown substantially, from 0.6m in 2003 to 1.8m in 2016.

Although they acknowledge the policies the government has introduced to make housing more accessible for first time buyers, the Resolution Foundation argues that more needs to be done to provide greater security for those that rely on renting.

This includes short-term measures such as proposals for indeterminate tenancies, which are essentially open-ended leases. Such tenancies are already in use in parts of Europe, including Scotland.

A new tribunal system could also be created, in order to resolve disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Lindsay Judge, a senior analyst at the Resolution Foundation, notes that support needs to be available across all areas of the housing market: “While there have been some steps recently to support housebuilding and first-time buyers, up to a third of millennial still face the prospect of renting from cradle to grave.

“If we want to tackle Britain’s ‘here and now’ housing crisis we have to improve conditions for the millions of families living in private rented accommodation.”

12 Months To Go: Brexit and the UK’s Defiant Housing Market

On the 29th of March 2019, the UK will leave the EU. There are several key areas of concern across every sector of the country, but what does Brexit mean for UK property, and how is the market confronting the challenges?

In less than 12 months, Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, following a hard-fought referendum back in June 2016. The negotiations are well underway, with progress being made on key issues, such as the duration and specifics of the transition period, citizens’ rights and future trade deals.

Despite the pervading uncertainty and cooling activity, investor confidence and growth projections for the UK’s property market remain strong, supported by dwindling supply and climbing demand.

2018 is the year when decisions on Brexit must be made, and property investors prepare to adjust to a new status-quo. But is the UK’s post-Brexit future still unclear, and what does it hold for those investing in UK property?

 

Brexit and UK Property

The country has been on something akin to a rollercoaster since Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 last March, serving the official notification letter to the European Council that formally began the withdrawal process.

Following this, there have been various summits, a gamble of a general election, and the agreement of a vital transition period – which will begin after the UK’s official departure in March 2019 – all aimed at solidifying the UK’s new status in Europe.

While uncertainty is set to dissipate in the final year of negotiations before the UK exits the EU, the property market, like many other industries, has held strong since the referendum in June 2016 – defying expectations.

Despite house prices and rental growth slowing in recent months, the significant falls in property values projected in the wake of the referendum have failed to materialise.

According to data from Your Move and LSL/Acadata, annual house price growth in February 2018 remains positive at a modest 0.6%, while data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that rents increased by 1.1% annually over the same period.

But if Brexit is not behind the deceleration in growth, what is?

 

Construction Industry Brexit

Fundamentally, house price and rent growth in the UK is governed by the imbalance between the supply and demand for properties, with this current slowdown forming a natural part of the property cycle.

As housebuilding construction activity remains subdued, owing to high materials costs and a chronic labour shortage, the supply of homes in the UK continues to fall far short of demand, pushing prices up in a competitive, high demand market.

Yet, this growth has started to cool as property becomes increasingly unaffordable for many prospective buyers. With the cost of purchasing a home too high, many households are turning from the housing market and towards the more reasonable rates available in the private rented sector.

As a result, home sellers are having to be more competitive with their prices in order to attract buyers, despite estate agents registering fewer homes for sale in February, which has caused a modest drag on asking prices.

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.