Further details about wholesale - discount data

Official Bank of England rate

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Official Bank of England rates

Prior to September 1971, the main policy objectives of the authorities had been control over the supply of credit available to the private sector and control over the level and structure of interest rates. The former objective was attained by the imposition of quantitative and qualitative restrictions on bank lending and setting the conditions for hire purchase credit. The latter was achieved by an interest rate set by the Bank of England - Bank Rate.

A net flow of funds from the Bank and Government to the Banking Sector created a surplus of funds in the money market. Conversely, a net flow of funds in the opposite direction created a shortage. Since Government receipts do not match Government expenditure, the Bank intervened in the markets through the Discount Houses, by issuing and buying Treasury Bills to ensure that the banking system was in balance at the end of the day.

Bank Rate had a direct influence on interest rates in the domestic banking system, being the rate at which the Bank of England, acting as lender of last resort, would normally lend to members of the discount market against security (e.g. Treasury Bills and eligible bills). It was also a conventional reference point for the rates which the London Clearing Banks paid on deposits and charged on advances.

Bank Rate had less influence on the rates of non-resident and other banks operating in the UK, which then, as now, were linked to market rates, especially those in the interbank market.

Minimum Lending Rate

The monetary reforms which became effective in September 1971 were designed to introduce more competition amongst the clearing banks and choose the rate of growth of the money stock as a main policy objective. A logical continuation of these measures was the replacement of Bank Rate on 13 October 1972 by Minimum Lending Rate (MLR).

MLR represented the minimum rate at which the Bank, acting as lender of last resort, normally lent to members of the discount market against specific security. Until 24 May 1978, the rate was normally set 1/2% higher than the average rate of discount for Treasury bills established at the weekly tender, rounded to the nearest 1/4% above and effective, for lending by the Bank, from the following working day. However, special changes in the rate were not precluded under this system; in this event the announcement was normally made at midday on Thursdays. A new rate determined in this way was effective immediately and the operation of the normal formula suspended until market rates had moved into line. On 11 March 1977, these arrangements were modified in one respect: in cases where the operation of the formula would have brought about a reduction in the rate, the Bank reserved the right, exceptionally, either to leave the rate unchanged, or to change it by less than would have resulted from the operation of the formula.

While MLR was the means of implementing interest rate policy from day to day, the principal instruments that reinforced MLR in accomplishing monetary control over a longer period were the special deposit scheme (this had existed since 1960 with modifications), the reserve assets ratio (which applied from 1971 to 1981) and, on occasions between 1973 and 1980, the supplementary deposits scheme.

Each had direct implications for the money markets: a call for special or supplementary special deposits withdrew cash from the banking system while the reserve ratio arrangements ensured that some of the short-term assets were not available to meet cash shortages.

On 25 May 1978, it was announced that the rate would in future be determined by administrative decision and any change would normally be announced at 12.30 pm on a Thursday; the new rate would become effective, for lending by the Bank, immediately.

Two main short-comings became apparent in these arrangements. First, developments such as higher and more variable rates of inflation worldwide and the increased attention given to the monetary growth were associated with higher and more volatile interest rates. Second, there were insufficient holdings of Treasury bills to sell to the Bank to fund the market’s shortages or to buy in surplus.

Band 1 dealing rates

Following discussion papers and consultation with relevant parties, the Bank’s operating techniques in the money market were changed in stages, beginning in October 1980. The formal arrangements were set out in the Bank’s paper "Monetary Control Provisions"; these began to take effect on 20 August 1981 when MLR was suspended. The Bank was able, however, at its discretion, to announce in advance the minimum rate which it would apply in any lending to the market. MLR has been invoked on numerous subsequent occasions for one day only. The reserve ratio requirements were discontinued and the cash ratio scheme introduced. The special deposit scheme remained available.

The Bank’s initial aim was to keep very short-term interest rates within an unpublished band, set by the authorities, to establish a specific level of interest rates. Any lending would normally be at a rate above comparable market rates, but within the band. There were 4 dealing bands ranging from Band 1 to Band 4 with maturities of 1-14 days, 15-33 days, 34-63 days and 64-91 days. Most typically the Bank dealt in Band 1. Operating in such maturity ranges was necessary for outright purchases because if the Bank had specified a single maturity date, the market may have had difficulty mobilising sufficient paper maturing on that specific date at short notice.

The Bank’s intervention in the money markets placed greater emphasis on open-market operations (as opposed to direct lending) in the bill markets, principally through members of the London Discount Market Association (LDMA). The Bank operated with the broad intention of offsetting daily cash flows, in either direction, between the Bank and the money market.

There was an extension of the list of eligible banks that were required to hold a minimum proportion of their eligible liabilities in secured deposits with members of the LDMA. This ensured that during periods of extreme money market shortages, the Discount Houses could effectively perform their role as intermediaries.

In supplying liquidity to the market, the Bank operated primarily through the discount houses, buying Treasury bills and eligible local government and bank bills either outright or on ‘repo’ (sale and repurchase agreements) to meet anticipated surpluses/shortages. The Bank aimed to supply on a daily basis whatever liquidity was necessary. Depending on the size of the day’s shortage, the Bank operated up to three times a day, offering to buy bills. If this was insufficient to deal with the shortage, the Bank lent on a secured basis to the discount houses at the end of the day (up to an amount linked to their capital).

With the end of pre-determined dealing rates, the discount houses competed to sell paper to the Bank, including repo, (or buy from it when in surplus), through their choice of rates at which they could afford to do business. The Bank influenced interest rates by its reactions to these offers. If the Bank was content with these offers, it would accept sufficient amounts to ensure the market was in balance. However, if these offers conflicted with the Bank’s higher interest rate objective, all or part of the offers were rejected. The Bank then declined to deal in the bill markets or limited its dealings so forcing those houses that were short of cash to borrow. The Bank then set a lending rate consistent with the level it was seeking to establish.

After 1991, there was at times a sizeable increase in the amount of liquidity the Bank has had to supply day-by-day to relieve the banking system’s shortage. This largely arose from movements in Government financing and because the discount houses had generally shrunk in size. To overcome this problem, the Bank introduced a twice-monthly repo operation in 1994 which built on the temporary arrangements introduced in September 1992 when sterling left the ERM. This repo facility was offered to a wide range of counterparties (including banks, discount houses, building societies and gilt-edged market-makers) and used different assets. These were primarily gilt repo, in which the Bank buys gilts from its counterparties and agrees to sell them back at a future date at a price set in advance. The liquidity provided through the repo facility reduced the liquidity the Bank needed to support its daily operations to a more easily manageable amount.

Repo rate

During 1996, further changes to the Bank’s open money-market operations were announced. Following discussions with market participants, the Bank issued a notice "Reform of the Bank of England’s operations in the sterling money markets", which gave operational details of the arrangements which were introduced on 3 March 1997.

The Gilt Repo market began in January 1996 and by February 1997 had developed sufficient scale and depth to be included in the Bank’s open market operations. The Bank continued to use Treasury bills and eligible bank and local government bills, both for repo alongside gilts, and for outright sale to the Bank. Also included were HM Government foreign currency marketable debt (including euro notes and bills issued by HM Government and the Bank of England), eligible sterling denominated securities issued by EEA governments and major international institutions and eligible euro denominated securities including strips, issued by EEA governments and major international institutions.

In repo operations, funds can be provided against any acceptable security with a maturity longer than that of the repo. In the years before 1997 the Bank had been providing funds to the market with an average maturity of two weeks. The Bank retained approximately this maturity for its repo dealing operations.

The Bank conducted its open market operations at 9.45 am (or 12noon on those days when the MPC announced its decision) and 2.30 pm. The Bank also provided overnight repo facilities at 3.30pm for its money market counterparties and at 4.20pm for the settlement banks, to accommodate these imbalances.

The Bank ceased to deal exclusively with members of the London Discount Market Association (LDMA) in its daily operations, dealing instead with a wide range of financial institutions active in the gilt repo and/or bill markets who meet the necessary functional requirements for its operations. The twice-monthly repo facility was suspended in March 1997.

The official Bank rate paid on commercial bank reserves

On 18 May 2006 the Bank introduced some wide ranging reforms to the framework for its operations in the sterling money markets. These have been further revised over the intervening years, and current details can be found in the Bank of England Market Operations Guide.

One of the primary reforms was the introduction of reserve accounts, held by commercial banks at the Bank, on which the official Bank Rate is paid. Reserves accounts are voluntary, and at the time of introduction all participants undertook to maintain an average target balance over the period between MPC dates (the ‘maintenance period’). Since then, the types of firms which are eligible to apply for reserves accounts has increased, and the ‘reserves averaging’ requirements no longer apply to most of them, ie there is currently no minimum or maximum requirement for most of them.

Reserves accounts are coupled with operational standing facilities (OSFs) for all but the smallest participants, and this has two parts, an operational standing deposit facility and an operational standing lending facility. The lending facility consists of an overnight lending transaction collateralised against high-quality, highly-liquid assets.

The Bank operates a framework of liquidity insurance operations to support the Bank’s financial stability objective. Many of these facilities provide reserves to the market which ultimately end up in commercial banks’ reserve accounts. Some of these facilities are bilateral (ie between the Bank and one firm at a time) and others are market-wide (ie between the Bank and a number of firms at a time). But all SMF facilities operate on published terms that do not vary across participants. These are set out in the Bank of England Market Operations Guide.

Changes in Bank Rate, Minimum Lending Rate, Band 1 Dealing Rate, Repo Rate and the official Bank Rate normally signify a marked change in the level of short-term market rates. As such, they are used as an indicator of the broad level of market rates.

Wholesale Market rates


SONIA is a measure of the rate at which interest is paid on sterling short-term wholesale funds in circumstances where credit, liquidity and other risks are minimal.

SONIA was introduced in March 1997 and originally reflected overnight unsecured interbank transactions entered into via broker members of the WMBA. In [2004] the scope of eligible transactions was broadened to include wholesale transactions.

In 2016 the Bank of England took on responsibility for SONIA and implemented reforms to its methodology in April 2018. In August 2020 the Bank began publishing the SONIA Compounded Index, aimed at simplifying the calculation of compounded interest rates and in doing so provides a standardised basis through its publication as an official source. For more on SONIA see the SONIA interest rate benchmark.

In 2017 it was adopted as the sterling risk free rate as the alternative to sterling LIBOR.

Base rates of selected retail banks

The base rates of Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HSBC and National Westminster banks only were used to compile this series. Each of these has a single base rate, which may differ from those of other banks in the sample - a spread was shown when this occurs.

Prior to 16 September 1971, the London Clearing Banks maintained interest rate agreements in that they charged the same minimum rates on advances to industrial and commercial companies and paid the same rates on deposits. Both rates were linked to Bank Rate with the rate on advances at a fixed margin above Bank Rate and the deposit rates (normally 7 days) at a fixed 2% below.

With the introduction of Minimum Lending Rate (MLR) on 13 October 1972 and the ending of this agreement, the London Clearing Banks generally linked their base rates to MLR. However, with the introduction of Band 1 dealing rates on 20 August 1981, their individually declared base rates moved more flexibly in response to market developments because the Bank of England’s "stop" rate in its open market operations was no longer published. A consequence of this was a more flexible market-related pricing of overdraft facilities. However, the final lifting of the clearing banks lending ceilings saw a surge in the use of the interbank market to finance lending at rates closely related to money-market rates, which vary daily.

Gilt repo market

Gilt repo transactions are sale and repurchase agreements in British government stock, conducted in accordance with legal documentation. A repo transaction may be stock or money-driven; a stock may be reverse-repoed (bought with an agreement to re-sell it) to cover a short position, e.g. cash may be borrowed against a repo of a mixture of gilts as "collateral" for the loan. The latter, a general collateral (GC) transaction, is a money-driven trade, and so GC repo is a market in secured money. The rates quoted in the table were indicative secondary market mid-rates of bid and offer GC rates collected at 8.30am.

From 2 July 2018 the Bank ceased publishing these data.


A deposit in an institution of the same home as the currency but held outside the country of origin. The 3 month Euro-dollar and Ecu/Euro were market rates for deposits in the London euro-currency market.

Euro interbank lending (LIBOR)

LIBOR rates were originally available for each of thirteen major currencies from reference banks in London selected by the British Bankers Association (BBA) on the basis of private nominations and discussions with advisory panels of senior market practitioners. These banks were selected to reflect the balance of the market in terms of country of origin and type of institution, on the basis of reputation, scale of market activity and perceived expertise in the currency.

In 2012, the number of currencies was reduced to five, and in 2014 the administration passed to ICE Benchmark Administration. In 2017 the FCA announced that it would no longer require banks to submit to LIBOR after end 2021, and so LIBOR could not be relied upon to be produced after that date. For more on this see the Transition to sterling risk-free rates from LIBOR.

3 month Euribor

EURIBOR is the European Interbank Offered Rate for money market deposits. Since 4 January 1999, the European Banking Federation and the EMU division of ACI, the Financial Markets Association, have sponsored the calculation of Euribor (with reference to a panel of 57 banks). Euribor is the rate at which euro interbank term deposits are being offered within the Euro zone by one prime bank to another at 11:00am Brussels time.

Pre 1999, the data included refer to the ECU LIBOR rate. The ECU LIBOR was the interest rate at which ECU deposits were offered between participants in the London market. This was calculated by Telerate on behalf of the BBA and was referred to as BBA 11am fixing. Interest was also compiled on the basis of 360 for maturity.

Eurodollar deposits in London

These were middle-market rates for US dollar deposits as recorded by the Bank of England during the late afternoon. Figures shown here up to and including 1979 3rd quarter were averages of Friday observations. Thereafter, they were based on daily observations.

Euro-sterling deposits

Euro-currency is defined as a deposit placed in an institution of the same domicile as the currency but held outside the country of origin. Paris was the main centre of the Euro-Sterling market. The rate given was the middle-market rate as recorded by the Bank of England during the late afternoon. Figures shown here up to and including 1979 3rd quarter were averages of Friday observations. Thereafter, they were based on daily observations.

Sterling certificates of deposit

A rigidity in the interbank market was that deposits once taken, could not be traded during their life (even though this was very short term). To meet this need, from the late 1960s certificates of deposit (CD) were introduced which could be traded on a secondary market.

A London sterling CD is issued with standard terms and conditions by institutions which were authorised under either the Banking Act 1987 (now replaced by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000) or the Building Societies Act 1986, and European authorised institutions. It is issued and payable primarily in London and in minimum deposits of £100,000. By market convention it is a short-term marketable instrument with a maturity up to five years, although longer maturities can now be issued. Despite this, the vast majority of certificates are issued for periods of less than six months. Interest can be at a fixed or variable rate, although they may also be issued at a discount and without a coupon. Interest bearing certificates are normally issued at par for large amounts. The rate of interest is closely related to the current market rate on sterling interbank deposits of a corresponding maturity. They are readily negotiable in the secondary market. CDs are not eligible as security in the Bank’s open market operations.

Historically, most of these sterling certificates are held by banks operating in the United Kingdom, building societies and other money market players. The remainder are held mainly by other financial institutions and by non-financial companies; holdings abroad are small and personal holdings negligible.

The rates shown were representative secondary money-market rates for clearing bank CDs. Since 1985, the mean of the bid and offer rates at about 8.30 am were published; data for earlier years were for the mean of the range of rates over the day. Sterling CDs are dealt on a comparable basis to that of USD CDs except that the interest is calculated on a actual/365 days bass rather than actual/360 basis with the interest generally paid at maturity.

The figures shown for 1970 and 1971 were for the last Friday of each period; from 1972 to 1977, figures were the average of Fridays in each period. Thereafter, they were based on daily observations.

This series was discontinued on 2 July 2018.

Eligible bank bills

A bank bill is a bill of exchange accepted by a bank. It represents an order in writing, addressed by one person to another and signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is addressed to pay, on demand or at a fixed date, a specified sum of money. The bill is made out by the signatory always with the consent of the person to whom it is addressed, who signs or accepts it, and mainly in relation to the sale of goods or produce. Eligible (bank) bills comprise those commercial bills which are accepted by a bank, on a list which was maintained by the Bank of England and which meet a number of criteria, relating to the purpose for which the bill is drawn, the clausing and maturity of the bill and the eligibility of the accepting bank.

Prior to 1984, the series refers to prime bank bills. Since 1985, the rates shown were described as the mean of the bid and offer rates in the secondary market at about 8.30 am, derived from three sources. From 1975 to 1985 the rates shown were the mean of the bid and offer of close of business rates. For earlier years, the data were the mean of the range of buying rates over the day; before 6 August 1971 it was the minimum buying rate agreed by members of the discount market. The figures shown for 1970 to 1974 inclusive were the average of Fridays in each period. Thereafter, they were based on daily observations.

On 11 February 2005 the Bank issued a press release stating that it was to cease accepting eligible bankers' acceptances as collateral in its sterling money market operations. From 14 March 2005 bills would no longer be eligible for rediscount, however those that were issued before this date would remain eligible as collateral until 17 August 2005.

This series was discontinued on 17 August 2005.

Treasury bill tender 3 month (91 days) bills

Treasury Bills are bearer Government Securities representing a charge on the Consolidated Fund of the UK issued in minimum denominations of £5,000 at a discount to their face value for any period not exceeding one year. Although they are usually issued for 3 month (91 days), on occasion they have been issued for 28 days, 63 days and 182 days. They are issued:

  • by allotment to the highest bidder at a weekly (Friday) tender to a range of counterparties;
  • in response to an invitation from the Debt Management Office to a range of counterparties;
  • at any time to Government departments (non-marketable bills only).

The secondary market in Treasury bills has in recent years become illiquid and representative rates are no longer obtainable other than those for the most recently issued 91 day bills. The rates shown were the average rates of discount at the weekly tender for 91 day bills.

US Treasury bills (91 days)

This is the market selling rate in New York for 91-day Treasury bills, expressed as a yield (per cent per annum of 360 days). Figures shown here up to and including 1979 3rd quarter were averages of Friday observations. Thereafter, they were based on daily observations.

Euro/Ecu Bills

Since July 1999 euro bills have been issued by the Bank of England. Prior to this, euro Treasury bills were Government securities representing a charge on the Consolidated Fund of the UK, denominated in euro (before 1999 in Ecu). The procedures for issuance and interest rate calculations for Bank of England euro bills and euro Treasury bills were the same (as follows):

Bills were issued at a discount to their face value for periods of 1, 3 or 6 months. Issues were sold by allotment to the highest bidder at monthly auctions on the second Tuesday of each month. Bids were made on a yield basis.

The rate shown was the average secondary market mid rate for 3-month bills, expressed using the standard euro money market yield convention (per cent per annum, using actual days to maturity and a year of 360 days).

Euro bills only have a single maturity date in any given month, namely the Thursday after the second Tuesday of the month. The end-quarter rate reflects the rate on the bill with just under 3 months remaining to maturity. The monthly average was for the bill maturing in the month three months later.

Euro Commercial Paper

6 banks were contacted on a daily basis for the median rate for that day, for the relevant type of euro-commercial paper. The rate published was the average of these 6 observations.

The Bank of England collect primary market A1-P1 indicative bid rates (the rate at which investors bid to buy the paper of issuers rates A1-P1), and it does not include commission.

We do not distinguish between the different types of issuers, only by ratings.

The rates have maturities of 1m, 2m, 3m and 6m.

These series were discontinued on 1 August 2013.

This page was last updated 07 August 2020

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