February 11, 2019 / 12:46 PM / 12 days ago

UK yield curve flattest since Brexit vote on growth fears

LONDON (Reuters) - The difference in yields between short and longer-dated British government bonds fell on Monday to its narrowest since shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum on concerns about the weakening growth outlook.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

A flatter yield curve is often seen as a signal markets expect fewer central bank interest rate rises in future.

The yield premium that 10-year British government bonds offer over two years sank to 43.4 basis points at 0820 GMT.

This was its lowest during main trading hours since the end of August 2016, not long after the Bank of England launched a programme of purchases of medium- and long-dated gilts to boost the economy following the June 2016 Brexit referendum.

At 1210 GMT the spread stood at 44.2 basis points, about half a basis point flatter than late on Friday.

Earlier, official data showed Britain’s economy slowed sharply in late 2018 and full-year growth was its slowest in six years as Brexit worries compounded the drag from a weaker global economy.

Paul Dales, an economist with consultancy Capital Economics, said British exports will probably continue to slow this year and next as a result of weaker global demand, even before taking into account the possibility of a no-deal Brexit shock.

“If there’s a silver lining from the mounting signs that the uncertainty caused by Brexit is holding back GDP growth, it’s that the economy could enjoy a decent rebound if a Brexit deal is agreed,” he said in a note to clients.

The yield curves of other big, rich economies have also flattened recently on concerns about the slowdown in growth.

Last week, the Bank of England said Britain’s economy faced its weakest growth in a decade in 2019, but interest rates would eventually resume their rise if a Brexit divorce deal is done.

British 10-year government bond yields fell to their lowest level since May 2018 last week in response to the BoE’s new projections, but were up about 2 basis points on Monday at 1.18 percent.

Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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