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(Bloomberg) -- For Bank of England policy makers surveying Britain’s crippled economy, the pieces are falling into place for further monetary easing in November.Inflation has now been at less than half the central bank’s 2% target for six months, adding to dire evidence of a dramatic slowing in the economic recovery and surging job cuts. Those shifts all transpired even before new Covid-19 restrictions were imposed on large swathes of the U.K. and the government moved closer to a no-deal Brexit.Rate setter Gertjan Vlieghe, often seen as a bellwether of the Monetary Policy Committee, captured the mood in a speech Tuesday that described his stance as skewed toward more stimulus for one of the advanced world’s worst-hit economies. In that view, he joins Michael Saunders, the official whose vote has presaged every move by the group, and his colleague Jonathan Haskel.Consumer price data on Wednesday may only have hardened such positions. Though inflation picked up in September, the acceleration to 0.5% was weaker than expected and is likely to give policy makers a further nudge toward bolstering asset purchases on Nov. 5.“In addition to the renewed concerns about the Covid-19 impact, as well as the forthcoming end to the post-Brexit transition period, this lack of inflationary pressure is likely to push the BOE toward further stimulus in November,” said James Smith, an economist at ING Group NV.He expects policy makers to add 100 billion pounds ($130 billion) to their quantitative easing program, currently totaling 745 billion pounds in assets.While BOE Governor Andrew Bailey has indicated some flexibility around the central bank’s inflation target, he has also emphasized that he stands ready to act, and has the firepower to do so.Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden reiterated that view Wednesday, stating that they have “considerable headroom” to boost the program and could even change the rules constraining purchases of particular securities if needed.The BOE has already expanded bond buying and slashed interest rates to a record-low 0.1% since the virus hit Britain. It has also added the prospect of negative rates in its toolkit, although Bailey has said that such a move is not imminent.A Bloomberg Economics gauge that integrates high-frequency data such as mobility, energy consumption and public transport usage found that, after gaining traction in the latter half of September, activity weakened again in October. After Canada, the U.K. is the worst-performing advanced economy tracked by BE.Job cuts are only exacerbating that. Sandwich chain Pret A Manger said this week it will close six more U.K. stores and eliminate as many as 400 positions, on top of 2,800 staff losses already announced. Pub chain Marston’s Plc says it could cut around 2,150 pub-based positions currently subject to furlough.The U.K. faces significant further economic headwinds in the coming months. After a national lockdown that left the economy in its deepest-ever quarterly contraction, a fresh surge in coronavirus infections has prompted new curbs. Greater Manchester will enter the highest level of restrictions on Friday, while Northern Ireland and Wales have imposed so-called “circuit breakers.”What Our Economists Say:A sustainable return to the BOE’s 2% target will take time and will require more stimulus to get there. We’ve penciled in an extra 100 billion pounds of asset purchases.\--Dan Hanson. Click here for the full U.K. REACTThe economy faces further stress as it nears the end of its transition out of the European Union. About half of U.K. firms are less prepared for Brexit compared to last year due to the impact of the pandemic, and the prospect of a trade deal looks increasingly shaky with negotiations on the rocks.A summary of independent projections compiled by the government found the average of new forecasts is for 10.2% contraction this year, followed by a 6.3% recovery in 2021. That’s a weaker outlook than just a month ago.“Inflationary pressures are few and far between,” said Robert Alster, an analyst at Close Brothers Asset Management. “The BOE may feel growing pressure to take action.”(Updates with Ramsden comments in eighth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Gilead Sciences Inc's remdesivir has no substantial effect on a patient's chances of survival, a clinical trial by the World Health Organization has found. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might try to force Brexit trade talks to a moment of crisis on Friday, as he was "disappointed" with the outcome of a recent European Council meeting, and amid claims that Brussels is dragging its feet by insisting that future concessions must come from the British side.
Marston’s pub group is to cut 2,150 jobs, calling new rules to curtail the spread of coronavirus “hugely disappointing.”