LONDON – Investors scaled back their bets on Friday on the chance of a Bank of England interest rate hike in December after a coronavirus variant that might be harder to combat with vaccines was detected in South Africa.
Interest rate futures were pricing a roughly 55% chance of a 15 basis-point rate hike by the BoE on Dec. 16 – after its next scheduled monetary policy meeting – compared with a roughly 75% chance on Thursday.
The BoE’s new chief economist, Huw Pill, said he thought the way was clear for a first rise in rates since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But he declined to send any signal about the likelihood of a move as soon as next month and he said there were still risks to public health.
Yields on 10-year British government bonds tumbled by 15 basis points, their biggest one-day fall since the onset of the financial crisis in March 2020, mirroring moves in U.S. Treasuries and other government bonds.
Yields on two-, five-, 20- and 30-year gilts fell by between 12 and 13 basis points.
The yield on Britain’s 10-year inflation-linked gilt fell to a record low of -3.347%.