Bank of Canada stays on the sidelines

The Bank of Canada announced on May 27th, 2015 that it was keeping its trend-setting overnight lending rate at 0.75 per cent.

Economic growth in the first quarter was weaker than the Bank expected, but it “expects a return to solid growth in the second quarter.” It still believes that exports and business investment will pick up and that the Canadian economy will grow by just under 2 per cent this year.

The Bank thinks the economic fallout from low oil prices will be neatly limited to the first quarter. If it proves to be longer lasting, the Bank may downgrade its economic outlook again and further delay raising interest rates. Financial markets currently expect the Bank to start raising interest rates in the second half of 2016.

The Bank sets interest rates so that inflation stays around 2% (plus or minus 1%). Economic growth plays an important role in the Bank’s assessment of the outlook for inflation. Its announcement said, “seeing through the various temporary factors, the Bank estimates that the underlying trend of inflation is 1.6 to 1.8 per cent, consistent with persistent slack in the economy.” This makes clear the Bank has little reason to raise its trend-setting Bank rate anytime soon.

The Bank’s announcement ended by saying “a number of complex adjustments are under way.” and suggested “their net effect will need to be assessed as more data become available in the months ahead.” In the meantime, interest rates will remain supportive for Canadian home sales and prices.

As of May 27th, 2015, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.64 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on April 15th and down 0.15 percentage points from one year ago.

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