Bank of England mulled raising QE stimulus: minutes

Bank of England policymakers mulled increasing their quantitative easing stimulus at their November meeting, but ruled out cutting interest rates below their current record low level, minutes showed on Wednesday.

The BoE said in a statement that its nine-member monetary policy committee (MPC) had voted 8-1 to maintain its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus amount at £375 billion ($597 billion, 466 billion euros) after Britain's exit from recession.

The MPC was unanimous in keeping the bank's key interest rate at 0.50 percent, according the November 7-8 meeting minutes, which also cautioned that lower rates would hit banking sector profitability and reduce overall lending.

Lone policymaker David Miles had called for an additional £25 billion for the asset purchasing programme, arguing that it would further boost economic growth without stoking inflation.

However, other MPC members wanted more time to assess the impact of QE and added that more stimulus cash would not necessarily prompt improved credit flows in the economy.

Under quantitative easing, the Bank of England creates cash that is used to purchase assets such as government and corporate bonds with the aim of boosting lending and in turn economic activity.

"Most members agreed that maintaining the size of the committee's asset purchase programme at this meeting was appropriate," the minutes read.

"It was possible that a greater demand stimulus could encourage a recovery in growth, and potentially moderate a lasting deterioration in the economy's supply capacity.

"But, so far at least, the signs of supply destruction had been limited."

The Bank of England voted against injecting more QE cash following news that Britain escaped from recession in the third quarter.

The radical QE policy, launched in March 2009, is now effectively on pause after the most recent £50-billion tranche of new money was pumped out.

British gross domestic product (GDP) rallied by 1.0 percent in the third quarter, or three months to September, after three quarters of contraction, recent official data showed.

However, the BoE last week warned that the economy would shrink again in the fourth quarter in the absence of temporary factors like the London Olympic Games.

It also slashed its forecast for British economic expansion and predicted low growth for the next three years owing to the combined impact of the eurozone crisis, tight credit conditions and inflationary pressures.

The BoE predicted that the economy would grow by 1.0 percent in 2013. That compared with the previous forecast of around 2.0 percent.

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