BoE's Broadbent plays down significance of UK growth

LONDON Wed May 1, 2013 9:13pm BST

File photo of Bank of England policymaker Ben Broadbent speaking at Thomson Reuters' London headquarters, in the Canary Wharf business district in London September 26, 2011. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

File photo of Bank of England policymaker Ben Broadbent speaking at Thomson Reuters' London headquarters, in the Canary Wharf business district in London September 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - A return to growth in Britain's economy in the first quarter of this year was welcome but did not have that much significance for policy decisions, Bank of England policymaker Ben Broadbent said on Wednesday.

"Given the amount of attention that was focused on it, it's better that it should be up than down. But given the margin of error in these things, I don't think it has that much significance," he told reporters.

Broadbent was responding, after a speech at the University of London, to a question about whether the 0.3 percent increase in British gross domestic product in the first quarter had solidified his view that the economy did not need more stimulus.

Broadbent has voted on several occasions against further government bond-buying by the Bank of England.

The bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is due to meet next week and most economists expect a majority of its members to remain opposed to expanding the bond-buying programme.

Broadbent said the British economy remained weak but there were some signs that growth was returning even if some employment readings had weakened a bit.

"If you ask me, are there signs other than just our forecast that the economy is going to grow over the next six months, I'd say yes, and there are probably more of those signs than there were in the middle of last year," he said.

Asked about the impact on the outlook for inflation from a recent fall in commodity prices and the level of sterling, Broadbent said they were relatively small factors.

(Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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