Bank of England poised to take bond-buying plan above $1 trillion

LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England is set to pump up its huge bond-buying stimulus plan to more than $1 trillion (£771 billion) on Thursday as Britain’s economy takes a fresh hit from new coronavirus lockdowns and another possible blow from a no-deal Brexit.

FILE PHOTO: Workers emerge from Bank underground station with the Bank of England (L) and Royal Exchange building (R) seen in the City of London financial district, London, Britain, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

On the day England goes into a month-long “stay-at-home order”, alongside restrictions elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the BoE looks almost certain to forecast a bigger slide in output this year than the 9.5% crash it predicted in August.

The central bank is soaking up most of the government bonds pouring into markets to fund finance minister Rishi Sunak’s spending surge, which will saddle the world’s sixth-largest economy with its biggest budget deficit since World War Two.

Governor Andrew Bailey and his colleagues will top up the bond-buying programme by 100 billion pounds to 845 billion pounds, according to a Reuters poll of economists, the third increase since the pandemic struck.

That would give the BoE enough firepower to last until around June of next year, based on its current pace of purchases. Before then it should have a clearer idea of the feasibility taking interest rates below zero for the first time.

The BoE has stressed it needs time to review the experience of other central banks with negative rates.

Some officials are worried they might damage Britain’s banks just when they are needed to keep on lending.

For now, the BoE is widely expected to keep its benchmark rate at 0.1% when it makes its November policy announcement at 0700 GMT.

Economists expect the BoE’s new economic forecasts to bury the dwindling possibility of a V-shaped recovery.

The forecasts are likely to say gross domestic product will recover its pre-pandemic size only in 2022 or possibly 2023.

In August, before the second wave of COVID-19 cases swept Europe, the BoE projected that process might be complete by the end of next year.

Investors are also watching out for any acceleration in the pace of bond-buying by the BoE.

Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Tom Brown