BOE preview: What’s the biggest risk for the UK economy?

BOE policymakers seem increasingly split about the biggest threats to the UK economy...

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A day after the Federal Reserve’s highly-anticipated meeting, Bank of England policymakers will convene for a high-stakes monetary policy meeting of their own. See our overview of the event, key themes to watch, and potential market implications below!

When is the BOE meeting?

The Bank of England will announce the results of its latest monetary policy meeting at 12:00 GMT on Thursday March 18.

BOE meeting: What traders need to know

While some observers were speculating about the potential for negative interest rates in the UK at the start of the year (see my colleague Rebecca Cattlin’s primer on negative interest rates in the UK here), the BOE’s bigger concern lately has been rising interest rates and fears of accelerating inflation as the economy gradually opens up in the coming months.

BOE policymakers seem increasingly split about the biggest threats to the UK economy, with BOE Governor Andrew Bailey recently noting that the risks of rising inflation were “increasingly two-sided”, although he said the bank was not about to raise rates. Separately, the central bank’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane struck an optimistic note earlier this month, suggesting that the UK economy may be poised for a strong, consumer-led surge through the latter half of the year.

On balance, we expect the central bank to avoid any immediate changes to its interest rates or asset purchases and merely emphasize that policymakers will continue to monitor incoming data to take appropriate action as needed. With all the uncertainty between Brexit, the ongoing COVID pandemic, and unprecedented fiscal/monetary stimulus, risk-averse central bankers may be more likely to stick to the status quo until the next move is clearer.

BOE meeting: FTSE 100 technical analysis

When it comes to country stock indices, the UK’s FTSE 100 hasn’t seen quite the impressive performance that US indices have, but the chart still looks generally constructive. The index found support at its rising 100-day EMA in both early and late February, and prices closed last week’s trading at a 2-month high near 6800:

Source: TradingView, StoneX

As it stands, the broader fundamental and technical backdrop for the FTSE remains supportive, so as long as the BOE refrains from tightening policy this week, the path of least resistance for the FTSE will remain to the upside. A confirmed break above the mid-February high at 6800 could open the door for a re-test of the post-COVID high at 6960 next. Meanwhile, only a break below the 100-day EMA near 6500 would erase the medium-term bullish bias.

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