Mini-budget policy U-turns from Jeremy Hunt results in markets soothing

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out plans with the aim of shaving billions off the Government debt

Published

The pound and UK government bonds have rallied further as the financial markets were initially placated by new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s emergency statement.

Yields on 30-year government bonds, or gilts, eased back further by around 10% as Mr Hunt set out plans to shave off billions of Government debt.

The interest on long-dated bonds hit a low of around 4.32% shortly after the first announcement.

The gilt market has been closely monitored since yields spiked to more than 5% after Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled his tax-cutting mini-budget back in late September, and the Bank of England was forced to intervene with an emergency bond-buying programme.

Jeremy Hunt's measures have initially calmed investors.
Jeremy Hunt's measures have initially calmed investors.

Mr Hunt’s announcements on Monday morning – including ditching the 1p income tax reduction and reviewing the Government’s energy support package – initially calmed investors who had been spooked by debt-funded tax cuts.

But it still has not undone the recent market turmoil, with yields on 30-year gilts still significantly higher than the 3.5% level seen before September 23.

The statement provided a welcome boost for the battered pound which reached a high of 1.1319 US dollars, up 1.2%, but has eased back slightly since the 11am statement.

Sterling had plunged to a record low of around 1.04 US dollars following the mini-budget as traders rushed to sell off the weakening pound.

Investors in the London Stock Exchange have also reacted positively with the FTSE 100 rallying by around 0.8% to hit a high of 6,915 shortly after Mr Hunt’s announcement.

The markets were hit by an adverse impact after Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled a raft of tax-cutting measures in his mini-budget.
The markets were hit by an adverse impact after Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled a raft of tax-cutting measures in his mini-budget.

The Chancellor’s surprise economic announcement has brought forward policies due to be announced in the medium-term fiscal plan on October 31, which will be guided by the Office for Budget Responsibility’s official economic forecast.

Some economists have suggested that the mini-budget U-turns would encourage the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to opt for a less steep interest rate hike at its next meeting in November, which could soothe the nerves of mortgage holders.

Average mortgage rates shot up in the days following the mini-budget as lenders pulled products for new buyers and repriced their rates upwards.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “The markets are responding positively to the new Chancellor’s plans to reverse almost all of the tax cuts announced by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng in the mini-budget on September 23.

“Jeremy Hunt’s focus on reassuring the markets and reinstating confidence appears to have worked so far, with gilt yields trading lower and sterling pushing higher.

“The FTSE 100 is staging gains with utilities and housebuilders, the most budget-sensitive sectors outperforming as Trussonomics is unwound with the reversal of the biggest tax cuts in 50 years.

“The retreat in gilt yields and sterling’s appreciation should help to settle the mortgage market and offset some of the UK’s imported inflationary pressures, possibly requiring less aggressive interest rate increases from the Bank of England at its next monetary policy committee meeting at the start of November.”