Thursday 19 January 2017

More cuts on way in mortgage rates, say analysts

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Published 16/11/2011 | 05:00

HARD-PRESSED homeowners are in line for another three interest-rate cuts on top of the one delivered this month, it has emerged.

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However, a billionaire investor in Bank of Ireland appeared to rule out variable-rate customers of that bank benefiting from a series of ECB rate cuts.

Analysts said they were expecting a eurozone rate cut in December, another in January and that a third in February or March was now highly likely.

This would take the ECB rate from 1.25pc at present to 0.5pc, economists at Danske Bank, which owns National Irish Bank, said yesterday.

Four cuts, including this month's one, would reduce repayments on a €200,000 tracker mortgage by €120 a month.

Over a year, a family with this size of mortgage would be €1,440 better off.

Danske Bank said the ECB was likely to keep cutting rates in a bid to counteract disappointing growth in the eurozone and in an attempt to contain the sovereign-debt crisis.

A string of cuts in ECB rates is set to reignite the controversy over banks failing to cut variable rates.

A billionaire investor in Bank of Ireland, Wilbur Ross, has defended the bank's decision to resist government attempts to persuade it to cut its variable mortgage rate.

Rebuffed

The vulture capitalist said a more "normalised" funding environment was needed for Bank of Ireland to pass on ECB interest rate cuts to customers on variable-rate mortgages.

Mr Ross, who owns 9pc of Bank of Ireland, told Reuters news agency that the lender's high funding costs made it difficult to pass on the ECB rate cut.

Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher stormed out of a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore last week after being asked to pass on this month's European Central Bank rate cut to variable-rate customers.

Mr Ross said: "I can assure you that Richie Boucher is well aware of the need for responsible pricing of loans and also is aware that lower rates make it easier for borrowers to remain current in their payments.

"High funding costs are hopefully a temporary phenomenon. In a more normalised environment, it would become easier to synchronise interest rate spreads with changes in rates charged by ECB."

Ulster Bank has also rebuffed efforts by the Government to get it to pass on last week's ECB cut to its variable rate customers. Its variable rate is 4.95pc, compared with Bank of Ireland's 3.99pc.

The State owns 15pc of Bank of Ireland. It has no stake in Ulster Bank.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday that he had been told by Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield that he does not need additional powers to force banks to pass on ECB interest rate reductions to customers.

Mr Noonan last night ruled out introducing emergency legislation to force two banks to pass on interest rate cuts to struggling help the mortgage holders.

Irish Independent

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