Doubts over just how soon the Bank of England can raise interest rates have been growing in recent weeks as Britain’s recovery looks in danger, inflation remains stubbornly low and concerns about the euro zone intensify.
After the Federal Reserve wound up its bond-buying programme, as expected, and the Bank of Japan sprung a surprise by sharply increasing the pace of its money-printing, this week the European Central Bank takes its monthly bow and will probably come up with nothing new.
Who says Europe is broken? The Ryder Cup stays here again and even Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s anti-EU party, said he wanted Europe’s golfers to win.
Euro zone inflation is the big figure of the day. The consensus forecast is it for hold at a paltry 0.5 percent. Germany’s rate came in as predicted at 0.8 percent on Wednesday but Spain’s was well short at -0.3 percent. So there is clearly a risk that inflation for the currency bloc as a whole falls even further.
True to its word, the EU agreed sweeping sanctions on Russia yesterday, targeting trade in equipment for the defence and oil sectors and, most crucially, barring Russia’s state-run banks from accessing European capital markets. The measures will be imposed this week and will last for a year initially with three monthly reviews allowing them to be toughened if necessary.
The new EU aristocracy will be put in place this week with the European Parliament to confirm Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European Commission President today and then EU leaders gathering for a summit on Wednesday at which they will work out who gets the other top jobs in Brussels.