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BoE October minutes and rate decision

While there is little doubt the BoE vote will result in an unchanged verdict on rates this afternoon, economists will be looking for signs in the minutes as to when the gradual policy tightening might begin.

There are a few experts predicting another BoE rate setter is set to join Ian McCafferty to vote for a 25 basis-point hike this time around, however most will be looking for stronger indicators regarding the UK economy in the coming months before doing so.

Inflation remains the big debate. Last month’s minutes did show there were members of the MPC that already saw encouraging signs of upward momentum in this regard and the weakening of sterling will only have made them more confident.

We have also seen a firming of unit labour costs, with figures this week beating expectations; these figures show how much workers are paid to produce one unit; this makes up around two thirds of the overall domestic cost of production and is widely seen as an indicator of underlying inflationary pressure.

On Monday we saw oil prices rise significantly but this is contrary to recent trends which have resulted in Brent Crude falling as much as 45% since the same period last year. However, oil prices could prove insignificant when debating the rate decision, given the fact that the price of oil will drop out of the annual CPI change calculation early next year.

All this being said the UK economy is not yet totally back on its feet. Manufacturing has been volatile, the retail sector seems softer and both official and commercial figures point to a slowing down of the services sector at the start of Q3.

Last month's MPC meeting took place in the aftermath of "Black Monday" when panic on China's trading floors had repercussions throughout global markets. The Fed cited this as part of the reason for holding off on the raising of short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly 10 years last month.

The UK however remain relatively unexposed from Asian markets with the BoE Chairman Mark Carney saying ‘Developments in China are unlikely to change the process of rate increases from limited and gradual to infinitesimal and inert’.

All this means that the timing of the first hike in the UK remains uncertain and it will be left to the economists to drill down on the comments made that accompany the vote in order to try and enlighten us as to the timing.

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