Sunday 4 December 2016

Interest rates and UK budget will dominate debate this week

Published 14/03/2016 | 02:30

George Osborne faces an £18bn hole in Britain's public finances as the UK economy is now projected to be smaller than first forecast in November's Autumn Statement Photo: PA
George Osborne faces an £18bn hole in Britain's public finances as the UK economy is now projected to be smaller than first forecast in November's Autumn Statement Photo: PA

It's all about the UK budget this week. Britain faces a fresh round of government spending cuts after George Osborne, the Chancellor, warned the UK must "act now or pay later" in the face of global economic uncertainty.

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Obsborne is expected to unveil additional savings equivalent to 50p for every £100 of government spending - around £4bn - to meet his target to balance the books by the end of the decade.

He faces an £18bn hole in Britain's public finances as the UK economy is now projected to be smaller than first forecast in November's Autumn Statement.

Staying in the UK, on Thursday the Bank of England will reveal this month's decision on interest rates.

Members of its Monetary Policy Committee are expected to vote unanimously in favour of leaving interest rates at the current level of 0.5pc, where they have remained since March 2009.

Experts are now predicting UK rates will stay at 0.5pc until 2017.

However, darkening skies over the global economy, the oil price rout and turbulence in the markets have led some experts to predict that the Bank might initiate cuts if the economic picture continues to worsen.

Investors and analysts are also anticipating Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy statement for fresh guidance on the pace of interest rate hikes in the US over the next several months.

Monetary policy announcements are also due from the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank. The BOJ is widely expected to stay put after January's shock decision to adopt negative rates, but some speculate it could still cut rates deeper into negative territory as part of its ongoing effort to reflate a stagnant economy.

Back on Irish soil, there's another spate of results due out this week. Fuel and convenience retailer Applegreen reports its 2015 results today and tomorrow Cairn Energy will report its full year results. Applegreen recently bought its 68th site in the UK, up from 59 sites in June 2015 and 54 since its IPO.

Data on travel and tourism for the last three months of 2015 is published today by the Central Statistics Office. Information on goods exports and imports for January will be published by the CSO tomorrow.

Midway through the week, the Central Bank's director of insurance supervision Sylvia Cronin will address the Dublin International Insurance and Management Association. In November, Ms Cronin warned that there is a wide variation in the amount of reserves being put to one side to meet motor claims. "It seems that the money set aside for private motor by some companies is approximately half the level per vehicle compared to others for more recent accident years" she said.

"While there are valid reasons for some of these differences, companies need to carefully consider the extent to which these differences are appropriate."

Irish Independent

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