Market Watch: Why are central bankers talking up rate rises?

Do Mark Carney and Janet Yellen really believe a rate rise is around the corner? Could they be talking up the possibility for other reasons?


It is back to school with a bang and, for mortgage lenders, time to fire the starting gun on the annual “Get business in before the end of the year” race. Perhaps we can expect a plethora of rate cuts and improved criteria.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Bank of England is still busy talking up the chances of a rate rise sooner rather than later. But the markets are less sure, particularly given the large Chinese shadow obscuring the blue skies. 

The real question is whether Mark Carney and his US counterpart, Janet Yellen, really believe a rate rise is around the corner. Could they be talking up the possibility for other reasons?

The IMF has waded in as well, warning that “monetary policy must stay accommodative to prevent real interest rates from rising prematurely”.

In the markets, three-month Libor has dipped a touch to 0.58 per cent while swap rates have fallen again.

2-year money is down 0.01 at 1.03%

3-year money is down 0.01 at 1.25%

5-year money is down 0.06 at 1.58%

10-year money is down 0.06 at 1.97%

So what has been happening during the summer break?

Woolwich has “sizzling summer rates”, including a 2.99 per cent two-year fix at 90 per cent LTV with a £999 fee, while Santander has two-year trackers from 1.99 per cent at 70 per cent LTV with no fees.

Clydesdale Bank has made a swathe of cuts, with two-year fixes at 75 per cent LTV from 1.69 per cent, 90 per cent LTV three-year fixes from 3.79 per cent and five-year fixes at 60 per cent LTV from 2.69 per cent.

Accord has also cut rates on two-year products by up to 0.25 per cent and five-year rates over 80 per cent LTV by up to 0.3 per cent.

Leeds BS has a new five-year remortgage fix to match an increase in demand. The product is available up to 85 per cent LTV with a rate of 3.34 per cent and no product fees.

Market Harborough has continued its useful range of niche products. It has a tier 2 visa mortgage for professionals earning at least £75,000 available at 60 per cent LTV up to £1m, and a second-home mortgage with automatic consent to holiday let.

In buy-to-let, BM Solutions has two new remortgage-only products with £500 cashback, while Precise has reduced some of its rates.

Fleet Mortgages has a new product for loans up to £150,000, which is 3.29 per cent with a £500 fee available up to 75 per cent LTV.

Meanwhile, the petition against the buy-to-let tax changes introduced in the summer Budget has over 21,000 signatures. It is still a long way to the 100,000 needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.

Finally, the FCA is holding a useful conference on the challenges facing the mortgage market. At a cost of £522 for the day, however, it serves to highlight one of the challenges faced by firms: FCA fees.