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GBP/USD Lower as BoE Holds Rates

The British pound is lower on Thursday. GBP/USD is trading at 1.2683 in the North American session at the time of writing, down 0.29% on the day. The Bank of England held rates at today’s meeting, as expected. There are no releases out of the US today.

Bank of England stays pat

There were no surprises as the Bank of England maintained interest rates at today’s meeting. The BoE kept the benchmark rate unchanged at 5.25% for a eighth straight time. Ahead of the meeting, the money markets had priced the likelihood of a hold at 95%.

The Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 in favor of a hold, with two members voting for a quarter-point cut. This result was expected by the markets and was a repeat of the vote at the previous meeting in May. This is a 16-year high but the central bank remains reluctant to cut rates due to concerns over inflation.

The good news was that the inflation rate fell to 2% in May, the first time that the BoE has met its 2% target in almost three years. However, the BoE was less happy about services inflation, which remained extremely high at 5.7% in May. This was down slightly from 5.9% in the previous report but above the market forecast of 5.5%. The rate statement noted that services inflation remained high.

Political considerations likely played a role in the BoE’s decision. The UK is in the midst of an election campaign and is keen not to be seen as interfering in the election. A rate cut at this sensitive time might have been viewed as helping Prime Minister Sunak, whose Conservative Party is trailing badly in opinion polls. Had the BoE trimmed rates, Sunak would have been quick to take credit for the cut and saying it proved that the government’s economic policy was working. Unfortunately for Sunak, the next BoE meeting isn’t till after the election in August.

GBP/USD Technical

  • GBP/USD pushed below support at 1.2717 and 1.2695 earlier and is putting pressure on support at 1.2670
  • There is resistance at 1.2742 and 1.2764

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