Another surprise rate hike, this time from Norway, with the Norges Bank announcing that it is raising its key policy rate by 0.25 percentage point to 3.75 per cent with effect from today.
Meanwhile, that other surprise rate hike, from the Bank of England, might not be repeated soon. Reuters reports:
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted by the narrowest of margins, 5-4, to raise interest rates to 5.25 percent this month, suggesting rates could be close to their peak.
The pound fell sharply against the dollar while gilts, interest rate futures and equities extended gains after minutes on Wednesday from the January monetary policy meeting confounded forecasts for a more hawkish 7-2 split.
Markets moved to price in only one more rate increase, rather than two, after the minutes and now foresee a 25 basis point increase to 5.5 percent by March, but analysts are less convinced.
A Reuters poll showed less than half of 51 economists polled forecast rates would hit rise by the March meeting, and only six think rates will go up next month.
Not that economic growth in the UK has not been good. Again from Reuters:
The Office for National Statistics said GDP rose by 0.8 percent in the October-December period, the fastest rate of growth since Q2 2004 and beating forecasts for a 0.7 percent reading.
Annual fourth quarter growth came in at 3.0 percent, also the fastest rate of expansion in more than two years.
On the other side of the world, interest rates also look to be on hold for the time being at least.
Bloomberg reports today that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-high 7.25 percent, although Governor Alan Bollard remarked that it remains "concerned about the upside risks to medium-term inflation" and "it is likely that further policy tightening will be required".
Meanwhile, an imminent rate rise in Australia looks unlikely after a benign inflation report yesterday. From The Age:
Australia's consumer prices in the final three months of 2006 were 3.3 per cent higher than a year earlier. On a quarterly basis, they fell 0.1 per cent after rising 0.9 per cent in the previous quarter, the first drop since 1999.
As widely expected, cheaper fuel, down 12.4 per cent, contributed to the lower CPI figure.
But Australia and New Zealand already have high interest rates. Japan, on the other hand, has very low interest rates, and it still might not raise them soon if economic growth continues to look uncertain, as it does after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reported yesterday that the all-industries index fell 0.2 percent in November from the previous month.