Monday, September 13, 2010

Bank of Canada raises key rate to 1%

The Bank of Canada raised its target for the overnight rate by one quarter of one percentage point to one per cent on September 8th, 2010. It was the third consecutive quarter point hike. The Bank rate was raised to 1.25 per cent and the deposit rate is now 0.75 per cent.

The Bank noted that, while the global economic recovery is proceeding, it remains uneven. The main downside risk cited in the Bank’s announcement was the recent weakness in the U.S. recovery, saying, “In the United States, the recovery in private demand is being held back by high unemployment and recent indicators suggest a more muted recovery in the near term.”

Owing largely to the weaker profile for U.S. activity, the Bank now expects Canadian growth to be “slightly slower” than it had previously forecast in July. The Bank downplayed the small revision to the outlook, however, saying, “consumption growth is expected to remain solid and business investment to rise strongly. Both are being supported by accommodative credit conditions, which have eased in recent weeks mainly owing to sharp declines in global bond yields.”

While the outlook for the Canadian economic recovery has changed slightly, inflation in Canada has remained in line with the Bank’s expectations. The Bank noted that, while the monetary policy measures undertaken since April have had the effect of modestly tightening financial conditions in Canada, they nevertheless remain “exceptionally stimulative.”

As of September 8th, the advertised five-year conventional mortgage rate stood at 5.39 per cent. This is down 0.1 per cent from a year earlier, and stands 0.4 per cent below where it was when the Bank made its previous interest rate announcement on July 20, 2010. It is also 0.1 percentage points below where it stood at the beginning of the year.

The statement ended with the message, “Any further reduction in monetary policy stimulus would need to be carefully considered in light of the unusual uncertainty surrounding the outlook.” The Bank had previously characterized the uncertainty in the outlook as “considerable.”

Most analysts now expect the Bank to hold off on any further rate hikes this year while it gauges the effects of recent tightening on the domestic economy, and watches the very uncertain situation south of the border. However, the overall tone of the Bank’s statement was more hawkish than expected, and this has led some economists to suggest this may not be the last hike of the year. Much will depend on economic data out over the next month and a half in advance of the Bank’s next decision on October 19th.

The Bank’s next Monetary Policy Report will be published on October 20th. The Bank will make its next scheduled rate announcement on October 19th.

“Copyright Canadian Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.”

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