Pound holds lower vs dollar after BoE rate rise

Bank of England poised to raise interest rates to tackle inflation

By Samuel Indyk

LONDON (Reuters) - The British pound trimmed some losses but remained lower against the dollar on Thursday after the Bank of England raised interest rates for the 12th consecutive meeting in its attempt to fight surging inflation.

As expected, the BoE raised rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.5%, taking borrowing costs to their highest level since 2008, and said it now expects inflation to fall more slowly than previously hoped.

The central bank also said it no longer predicts a recession after revising up its growth forecasts from gloomy projections in February, the biggest improvement since it began publishing forecasts in 1997.

GRAPHIC: Bank of England raises rates for 12th time in a row https://www.reuters.com/graphics/BRITAIN-BOE/dwpkdnjgzvm/chart.png

Sterling, which had been around 0.5% lower against the dollar prior to the decision, was last down 0.3% at $1.2590. On Wednesday, it hit its highest level in over a year at $1.2679.

"Sterling should continue its rally against the U.S. dollar for as long as the consensus holds for higher UK rates, along with the prediction that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause their programme of rate hikes," said David Morrison, senior market analyst at Trade Nation.

In the post-announcement press conference, BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said the bank will "stay the course" to ensure inflation falls back towards target, but that the impact of prior rate hikes will weigh more on the economy in coming quarters.

"The BoE kept its forward guidance, which suggests that the door is very much open for further increases at the coming meetings," said Mohit Kumar, chief European economist at Jefferies.

Traders see interest rates peaking at around 4.87% in November, reflecting very little change on what had been priced earlier in the day.

The euro earlier fell to a five-month low against the pound at 86.62 pence but was last down just 0.2% at 86.84 pence.

Britain's 2-year government bond yield - which is sensitive to changes in interest rate expectations - cut some of an earlier fall and was last down 2 basis points on the day at 3.804%.

The 10-year yield was last down 3 basis points at 3.774%.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 share index turned negative and was last down 0.3%. The domestically focussed FTSE 250 also declined and was down 0.2%. An index of Britain's banks extended losses and was last down 1.1%.

(Reporting by London markets team, writing by Samuel Indyk; editing by Yoruk Bahceli and Susan Fenton)