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Bank of England might move on buy-to-let market: Cunliffe

Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank of England (BOE), speaks during the bank's financial stability report news conference at the Bank of England in the City of London, U.K., on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.

[LONDON] The Bank of England might take action after a sharp increase in the number of properties acquired by investors with the intention of renting them out, a top policymaker at the central bank said on Wednesday. "Buy-to-let has grown faster than any other part of the housing market," Jon Cunliffe, a BoE deputy governor, told BBC radio in an interview. "When you find one sector of the property market growing fast ... then I think you have to ask questions about are there risks here, and you have to monitor those risks and if necessary you have to take action to curtail those risks." The BoE took no action on the buy-to-let market at the latest meeting of its Financial Policy Committee, the results of which were announced on Tuesday. The FPC has previously said it was monitoring the market.

Cunliffe also told the BBC that the Bank was keeping an eye on growth in lending by banks to consumers but did not think it poses an immediate risk to the economy. "At the moment, I think it's containable at the level it's growing but it's something you need to watch," he said.

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Cunliffe reiterated his view that the BoE's next move on interest rates would be an increase. The Bank's chief economist Andy Haldane has said he could not rule out a rate cut because of the risks that a further slowing of the world economy might hurt Britain. "I think we see signs of pay growth coming back in the economy and we're seeing signs of productivity coming back, but ... I'm data-dependent," he told the FT.