AFP_LONDON: Britain’s unemployment rate edged up to 7.2 per cent in the quarter to December, official data showed on Wednesday, easing pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.
Unemployment rose from a near five-year low level of 7.1 per cent in the quarter to the end of November, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.
The Bank of England (BoE) is facing pressure from financial markets to begin raising its main interest rate from a record low-level of 0.50 per cent as Britain’s economic recovery takes hold.
With markets pricing in future rate rises, sterling has shot up to three-year highs against the dollar.
Canadian national Mark Carney took charge of the BoE last August and launched a forward guidance policy, under which he said the central bank would not raise borrowing costs until the unemployment rate falls to at least seven per cent.
Carney has since tweaked the guidance with official data showing unemployment falling much faster than expected up until Wednesday’s data.
Under the amended guidance set out last week, the BoE will seek to absorb all the spare capacity in the economy as it looks to keep inflation close to a government-set target of two per cent, before moving to hike its key lending rate.