Opinion split on interest rate rise at Bank of England

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In a BBC interview that sent the pound lower, Mr Carney said policy makers will make their decision "conscious that there are other meetings" at which they could act this year.

He noted that the central bank will have to adjust its decisions around the Brexit negotiations and eventual divorce deal to "keep the economy on a stable path".

"In the lead-up to May's base rate announcement, both the interest swap and Libor markets have started to factor in a potential rise".

Sterling had already fallen by around 0.77 per cent against the dollar on Thursday evening.

Saunders' comments contrast with those of Mr last night, who cautioned markets yesterday that a rate rise in May is not a certainty.

In November the Bank of England raised the base rate for the first time in nearly a decade, and speculation about another rise in May has helped drive up mortgage market costs in recent weeks. Earnings, inflation and retail sales all down. "We'll sit down calmly and look at it all in the round", Carney said.

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Figures this week showed Britain's unemployment rate fell to a 42-year low, but inflation dropped more sharply in the first quarter than the BoE had expected.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "There was a slight improvement from sterling as Friday went on, thanks to a hawkish rebuke to Carney's Thursday dovishness from MPC member Michael Saunders".

"Obviously the FTSE, which has seen its tempestuous relationship with the pound return this week, was pretty damn pleased at sterling's softening", Cambell added.

LCG's research team said that the Bank of England governor's comments were created to be grounding for some market watchers.

However, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has this week hinted that a base rate rise is not a foregone conclusion.

Carney also said uncertainty around Brexit had prevented what would otherwise have been a "surge in investment".