Bank of England admits ‘error’ on bond sales data

The U.K. central bank has owned up to a "clerical error" that caused it to publish incorrect figures on debt sales for two months.

Only one week ago, the Bank of England reported that a record £28.2 billion in Gilts (U.K. sovereign bonds) was snapped up by foreigners in March—bemusing analysts, given the political uncertainty in the run-up to the national election.

In fact, foreigners only purchased around half of that, or £14.8 billion, the Bank of England admitted on Tuesday in a "notice of errata."


The Bank of England, London
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Bank of England, London

"Due to a clerical error occurring while inputting the February value for non-residents' purchases of gilts (published 30 March 2015), the Bank of England Bankstats (Monetary & Financial Statistics) publication and Statistical Interactive Database are being revised," the central bank said on Tuesday.

The bank also said that its data for February had been wrong. Instead of foreigners selling net £7.6 billion in Gilts, non-residents had actually purchased net £5.8 billion.

The errors may have impacted bond traders' positions if they acted on the record high sales previously posted for March.

Gilt prices have steadily fallen since the middle of April, in line with German Bunds and U.S. Treasury bonds.

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Under Governor Mark Carney, the bank has suffered several knocks to its profile. Most notably, the Bank of England has conducted its own review into whether staff knew about potential rigging of foreign exchange markets between 2005 and 2013.