Bank of Canada holds interest rate at 1.5 per cent

The central bank kept its benchmark at 1.5 per cent, but data ‘reinforces’ view that more hikes are needed.

The Bank of Canada left its interest rate unchanged Wednesday in what could be just a brief pause along its gradual path to higher rates.

The central bank kept its benchmark at 1.5 per cent — but many experts have predicted it could introduce another increase as early as next month.

In a statement Wednesday, the Bank of Canada said more hikes should be expected thanks to encouraging numbers for business investment, exports and evidence that households are adjusting to pricier borrowing costs.

“Recent data reinforce governing council’s assessment that higher interest rates will be warranted to achieve the inflation target,” the bank said as it explained the factors around its decision.

“We will continue to take a gradual approach, guided by incoming data. In particular, the bank continues to gauge the economy’s reaction to higher interest rates.”

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has raised the rate four times since mid-2017 and his most-recent quarter-point increase came in July.

The bank can raise its overnight rate as a way to keep inflation from running too hot. Its target range for inflation is between one and three per cent.

The Bank of Canada said the economy has seen improvements in business investment and exports despite persistent uncertainty about the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade policy developments. NAFTA’s year-long renegotiation, which resumes Wednesday in Washington, and other trade unknowns are under close watch by the bank.

The statement also pointed to other encouraging signs in Canada, including evidence the real estate market has begun to stabilize as households adjust to higher interest rates and new housing policies. Credit growth has moderated, the household debt-to-income ratio has started to move down and improvements in the job market and wages have helped support consumption, it said.

Heading into Wednesday’s rate decision, analysts widely expected Poloz to hold off on moving the rate — at least for now.

Last month, Poloz stressed the need to take a gradual approach to rate increases in times of uncertainty. He made the remarks during a panel appearance at the annual meeting of central bankers, academics and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“Taking a gradual, data-dependent approach to policy is an obvious form of risk management in the face of augmented uncertainty,” he said in his prepared remarks.

Related: Bank of Canada says Canadians owe $2 trillion as it mulls next rate hike

Related: Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 1.25 per cent

The Bank of Canada’s next rate announcement is scheduled for Oct. 24.

In its statement Wednesday, the bank also explained why it’s not going to raise the interest rate based on a recent inflation reading that showed the number had climbed to the top of its target range.

July’s unexpectedly high inflation number of three per cent was just a temporary spike in the data caused by airfare and gasoline prices, the bank said. It predicted inflation to edge back down towards two per cent in early 2019.

Core inflation, which omits volatile components such as pump prices, has remained firmly around two per cent, the bank noted.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lead Island Health doctor backs Saanich push to lower provincial speed limits

Chief Medical Health Officer backs the bid to drop residential speed limits to 40 km/h

Victoria ranked ‘most bikeable’ city in Canada

Real estate brokerage Redfin releases inaugural bike score ratings

Province launches lawsuit over Esquimalt sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after being dropped from marine lift in 2018

Greater Victoria sees unemployment rise in November

Unemployment rate jumps to 3.5 per cent from 3.2 per cent

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

B.C. seaplane company set to test the first commercial electronic plane

The plane is powered by a 750 horsepower electric motor

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Most Read