Billions to boost Britain

By Peter Cripps, Holly Williams

Billions of pounds of emergency cash are expected to be pumped into the UK economy.

The Bank of England's monetary policy committee is widely predicted to boost its quantitative easing programme by a further £50 billion ($97.15 billion) to £375 billion at its latest monthly meeting overnight.

Figures this week showed the economy worsened last month, after the construction and manufacturing sectors contracted and the services sector suffered its worst performance in eight months.

Economists said the figures suggested the economy continued to shrink or at best was flat in the second quarter, making it more likely the bank would act.

Nida Ali, economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club, said the surveys released this week "have disappointed" and "strongly suggest" the bank would authorise extra quantitative easing, "probably to the tune of £50 billion".

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, which helped to devise the surveys, said the results were "firmly in the territory that has triggered action from the [policy committee] in the past".

The bank and Treasury have recently made major moves to try to kick-start lending and stall a double-dip recession.

Official figures have showed the double-dip recession was deeper than first feared, with gross domestic product shrinking 0.4 per cent in the last quarter of last year instead of the forecast 0.3 per cent.

In addition, inflation has fallen by more than expected in recent months, with consumer inflation coming down to 2.8 per cent in May - the lowest level since November 2009 - which will give the bank more leeway to restart its money-printing programme.

The bank is not expected to cut interest rates below their current historic low of 0.5 per cent, despite a predicted rate cut by the European Central Bank the same day.

A rate cut in Britain could do more harm than good by reducing building society margins.

- AAP

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