Base Rate 

Bank keeps base rate at 0.5%

Bank keeps base rate at 0.5%

The Bank of England has kept the base rate at 0.5 per cent.

Nick Harvey, investment consultant at Xafinity Punter Southall Investment Consulting, said the decision was not a surprise, not least after the wobbles in markets earlier this week and the previous comments from the Monetary Policy Committee that any further rises would be at a gradual pace.

At the moment, he said November's upward move in the Bank base rate does not feel like it was a turning point in interest rates.

In any case, he said defined benefit pension scheme stakeholders will be conscious that increases in the Bank base rate in isolation do not necessarily directly lead to increases in long term gilt yields and so may not have a material positive impact on funding issues.

Mr Harvey said: "The flip side of interest rate rises for defined benefit scheme members is that should they increase by more than expected, the record high transfer values that we have seen are likely to come to an end. 

"Pension transfer values as measured by the Xafinity transfer value index remained high during 2017, fluctuating throughout the year but ending the year at £236,000, little changed from the figure of £234,000 at the end of 2016. 

"These figures were relatively high compared to the Index at the end of 2015, which was £203,000."

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said after repeated warnings that a rise in interest rates may come sooner than expected, borrowers would no doubt be relieved by today’s news to hold at the current level.

But Mr Duncombe said with rates still near their all-time low, future rises still look inevitable. 

emma.hughes@ft.com

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