On Thursday, the Bank of England (BoE) hiked the interest rates for its 10th consecutive meeting, but it also signaled that the tide might finally be turning in its fight against stubbornly high inflation.
The hint from the British central bank prompted investors to start gearing up for the end of its monetary tightening cycle.
The interest rate setters of the Bank of England (BoE) voted to increase the rate from 3.5% to 4% 7-2, making it the highest since 2008.
Most economists and investors had already been expecting this move, so it did not come as a surprise because the BoE is also trying to mitigate the risks of inflation, which is higher than its target.
Other central banks, such as the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) are also trying to do the same, as the two also hiked their interest rates on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
However, the problem for the BoE is that it could aggravate what is expected to be the worst recession to hit the country this year among the big rich economies.
The British central bank said that the interest rate hikes, which it had started in December 2021, would continue to drag on the economy.
But, they would be effective in reducing inflation to 4% by the end of the year. The previous inflation forecast had been 5% for 2023.
Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the BoE, said that there were indications of inflation turning a corner, but they could not declare victory as yet because inflationary pressures still exist.
He said that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would have to be absolutely sure that inflation was coming down.
The MPC stated that further hikes in the interest rate would depend on the evidence available regarding persistent price pressures.
Previously, the British central bank had stated that they would respond forcefully, as required if there were signs of any inflationary pressure and would hike the interest rates.
Now, investors are of the opinion that there will be another rate hike in March that would take the rate to 4.25%.
After that, they believe the BoE would choose to keep the interest rates steady, as opposed to expectations before the meeting when the rate was predicted to reach 4.5% in June.
There was a sharp decline in the British pound against the US dollar after the announcement, while British government bonds recorded their biggest gains in a day since October.
Bailey said that the best way to determine how quickly inflation will decline will be the data from the labor market.
Average wage increases of 6% were a current concern, but there are indications that they would decline later this year.
Market experts said that there were indications that the labor market would weaken sharply, but it would not be quick enough to prevent another interest rate increase in the next month.
Others said that it was possible that the bank could start cutting the interest rate by the end of the year.