LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England left its target for asset purchases steady on Thursday despite an escalation in the euro zone debt crisis, which many analysts believe may soon force the Bank to inject more stimulus.
The central bank restarted its quantitative easing programme last month with a plan to buy a further 75 billion pounds of government bonds over the next four months, on top of the 200 billion pounds of purchases it made from 2009 to 2010.
It left interest rates steady at a record low 0.5 percent.
Since October’s meeting, a welter of gloomy economic news has fuelled recession fears, as the euro zone crisis rages and Britain’s cash-strapped consumers spend less.
Most economists in a Reuters poll last week expected the Bank to eventually pump more money into the economy to ward off another slump coupled with falling prices.
Policymakers will have been armed with their latest set of quarterly economic forecasts, which they will publish next week, and which are likely to show a much more subdued outlook for growth and inflation.
In its August inflation report, the Bank predicted growth of over 2 percent for next year. But most economists have sharply lowered their forecasts since then. Bank policymaker Adam Posen said recently growth was likely to be little more than 0.5 percent.
Governor Mervyn King said after the October decision that the worsening outlook for the global economy had made further easing necessary as Britain was caught in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
With the government’s hands tied by its pledge to erase the country’s budget deficit of some 10 percent of gross domestic product, the onus to support the economy will remain firmly on the Bank.