Bank of Canada holds key interest rate steady in final decision of 2023 – National |


The Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 5.0 per cent for the third consecutive decision.

The central bank continued to warn Wednesday however that its policy rate may need to rise again if inflation doesn’t continue to ease.

In a statement announcing the hold, the Bank of Canada said signs of “moderating spending and relieving price pressures” allowed it to keep its policy rate unchanged. Inflation’s decline is “broadening,” the statement noted, and the labour market “continues to ease.”

Overall inflation cooled sharply to 3.1 per cent in October, down from a peak of 8.1. per cent in June 2022.

But the central bank’s governing council warned that it’s looking for more signs of easing in its preferred core inflation metrics and is continuing to look at wage growth, inflation expectations and consumer price behaviour in gauging where the benchmark rate should head next.

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“Governing council is still concerned about risks to the outlook for inflation and remains prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed,” the statement read.

Click to play video: 'With Canada’s interest rates temporarily on hold, what is the central bank’s next move?'

With Canada’s interest rates temporarily on hold, what is the central bank’s next move?

Wednesday’s move was widely expected by economists and market watchers, who pointed to slowing in Canada’s economy and easing in the annual inflation rate as signs the central bank’s rate hike cycle might have peaked.

The Bank of Canada has raised its policy rate 4.75 percentage points since March 2022 in an effort to tame decades-high inflation.

The central bank raises the cost of borrowing in an effort to slow economic growth, discourage spending and rein in demand, while also making loans like mortgages more expensive for Canadians.

The Bank of Canada on Wednesday noted rising pressures on the shelter component of the consumer price index, even as overall inflation cooled. Canada’s real gross domestic product also came in well below the central bank’s expectations with a contraction in the third quarter.

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Canada’s once-tight labour market has also shown signs of easing as of late as job gains fail to keep pace with rapid population growth, driving up the unemployment rate. However, the Bank of Canada continued to flag annual wage growth in the range of four-to-five per cent as something it’s keeping tabs on.

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said in a speech last month that the “excess demand” that was fuelling inflation has been stripped out of the economy — language that was mirrored in Wednesday’s statement. The central bank has indicated it will not ease up on its monetary policy tightening until it is sure inflation will continue to decline to its two per cent target, a goal it currently has set for mid-2025.

Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note to clients on Wednesday morning that the Bank of Canada “toasted small victories” on the inflation front with its latest decision, but not yet ready to drop its warning that rates could rise again.

“But current trends are clearly leaning away from that, and the Bank’s nod to broader progress against inflation and the fact that the economy is no longer clearly overheated suggest that the central bank isn’t at this point really giving much thought to additional tightening,” he said.

More to come.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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