Bank of England expects UK economy to return to weak growth later this year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bank of England expects UK economy to return to weak growth later this year

LONDON - Britain's economy will stagnate this year, the Bank of England has forecast, raising expectations that more stimulus measures will be needed.

In its quarterly Inflation Report released Wednesday, the Bank predicted that the U.K. economy will not grow overall in 2012 in spite of staging a return to growth in the second half of the year, ending a recession that began in the last quarter of 2011.

Three months ago, the Bank had forecast growth of 0.8 per cent for the year. Those hopes evaporated as the U.K.'s economic output fell by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter and 0.7 per cent in the second quarter.

"Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us over the past fortnight, our economy has not yet reached full fitness. But it is slowly healing," said Mervyn King, the Bank's governor.

The downbeat forecast supported expectations that the Bank may extend its program of asset purchases, or quantitative easing, beyond the current limit of 375 billion pounds once the latest tranche of purchases is completed in November.

"The door is clearly open to more stimulus," said Vicky Redwood, chief U.K. economist at Capital Economics.

King said a new "funding for lending" program had led to some banks cutting loan rates, but he confirmed that banks could use funding from the program to bolster their balance sheets or profits rather than supporting investment in the economy.

Consumer price inflation, currently 2.4 per cent, may drop near the government's official target of 2 per cent by the end of the year and fall below target next year, the report said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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