Bank of England shocks markets with rates pause

The Bank of England put markets in a spin Thursday (November 4).

That after it failed to go through with a widely expected rate hike.

Instead the benchmark rate stayed on hold at a record low 0.1%.

Investors had bet the BoE would become the first major central bank to lift rates.

Many had priced in an increase to 0.25%.

But bank Governor Andrew Bailey says policymakers want to see more data come in:

"It was a very close call. I don't think, you know, we should -- many of you wrote articles saying 'it's a close call' and I think it is a close call. We spent many hours, we always spend many hours, but we seem to spend even more many hours this time over it, as we should, and we are in a situation where the calls are close, they're quite hard. But that's just a reflection of the position we're in."

Sterling skidded following the surprise move.

It was down 1% against the dollar in the moments after the news.

UK government bond yields also tumbled, heading for their biggest daily drop since March last year.

Traders expressed surprise at the bank's move to hold steady, after it had hinted strongly at a possible hike.

In October Bailey spoke of a need to act to contain inflation.

However, the BoE has kept alive the prospect of tighter policy, saying it would probably have to raise rates over the coming months if the economy performed as expected.

Markets now see a 60% chance of a rate hike at next month's policy meeting.

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