Bank of Canada Makes Interest Rate Announcement
Bank maintains overnight benchmark rate at 0.25%
As expected, the Bank of Canada announced that it is holding its key interest rate target at 0.25%. The Bank acknowledged the hefty economic impact due to COVID-19, and although the pandemic appears to have peaked, there still remains a high degree of uncertainly around the economic recovery.
The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on July 15, 2020. Read the release below:
Massive policy responses in advanced economies have helped to replace lost income and cushion the effect of economic shutdowns. Financial conditions have improved, and commodity prices have risen in recent weeks after falling sharply earlier this year. Because different countries’ containment measures will be lifted at different times, the global recovery likely will be protracted and uneven.
In Canada, the pandemic has led to historic losses in output and jobs. Still, the Canadian economy appears to have avoided the most severe scenario presented in the Bank’s April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). The level of real GDP in the first quarter was 2.1 percent lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019. This GDP reading is in the middle of the Bank’s April monitoring range and reflects the combined impact of falling oil prices and widespread shutdowns. The level of real GDP in the second quarter will likely show a further decline of 10-20 percent, as continued shutdowns and sharply lower investment in the energy sector take a further toll on output. Decisive and targeted fiscal actions, combined with lower interest rates, are buffering the impact of the shutdown on disposable income and helping to lay the foundation for economic recovery. While the outlook for the second half of 2020 and beyond remains heavily clouded, the Bank expects the economy to resume growth in the third quarter.
CPI inflation has decreased to near zero, as anticipated in the April MPR, mainly due to lower prices for gasoline. The Bank expects temporary factors to keep CPI inflation below the target band in the near term. The Bank’s core measures of inflation have drifted down, although by much less than the CPI, and are now between 1.6 and 2 percent.
The Bank’s programs to improve market function are having their intended effect. After significant strains in March, short-term funding conditions have improved. Therefore, the Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers’ acceptances to bi-weekly operations. The Bank stands ready to adjust these programs if market conditions warrant. Meanwhile, its other programs to purchase federal, provincial, and corporate debt are continuing at their present frequency and scope.
As market function improves and containment restrictions ease, the Bank’s focus will shift to supporting the resumption of growth in output and employment. The Bank maintains its commitment to continue large-scale asset purchases until the economic recovery is well underway. Any further policy actions would be calibrated to provide the necessary degree of monetary policy accommodation required to achieve the inflation target.
Interest Rate Archives
The necessary efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a sudden and deep contraction in economic activity and employment worldwide. In financial markets, this has driven a flight to safety and a sharp repricing of a wide range of assets. It has also pushed down prices for commodities, especially oil. In this environment, the Canadian dollar has depreciated since January, although by less than many other currencies. The sudden halt in global activity will be followed by regional recoveries at different times, depending on the duration and severity of the outbreak in each region. This means that the global economic recovery, when it comes, could be protracted and uneven.
The Canadian economy was in a solid position ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, but has since been hit by widespread shutdowns and lower oil prices. One early measure of the extent of the damage was an unprecedented drop in employment in March, with more than one million jobs lost across Canada. Many more workers reported shorter hours, and by early April some six million Canadians had applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The outlook is too uncertain at this point to provide a complete forecast. However, Bank analysis of alternative scenarios suggests the level of real activity was down 1-3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and will be 15-30 percent lower in the second quarter than in fourth-quarter 2019. CPI inflation is expected to be close to 0 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This is primarily due to the transitory effects of lower gasoline prices.
The pandemic-driven contraction has prompted decisive policy action to support individuals and businesses and to lay the foundation for economic recovery once containment measures start to ease. Fiscal programs, designed to expand according to the magnitude of the shock, will help individuals and businesses weather this shutdown phase of the pandemic, and support incomes and confidence leading into the recovery. These programs have been complemented by actions taken by other federal agencies and provincial governments.
For its part, the Bank of Canada has taken measures to improve market function so that monetary policy actions have their intended effect on the economy. This helps ensure that households and businesses continue to have access to the credit they need to bridge this difficult time, and that lower interest rates find their way to ultimate borrowers. The Bank has lowered its target for the overnight rate 150 basis points over the last three weeks, to its effective lower bound. It has also conducted lending operations to financial institutions and asset purchases in core funding markets amounting to around $200 billion.
These actions have served to ease market dysfunction and help keep credit channels open, although they remain strained. The next challenge for markets will be managing increased demand for near-term financing by federal and provincial governments, and businesses and households. The situation calls for special actions by the central bank. To this end, the Bank is furthering its efforts with several important steps.
Under its previously-announced program, the Bank will continue to purchase at least $5 billion in Government of Canada securities per week in the secondary market, and will increase the level of purchases as required to maintain proper functioning of the government bond market. Also, the Bank is temporarily increasing the amount of Treasury Bills it acquires at auctions to up to 40 percent, effective immediately.
The Bank is also announcing today the development of a new Provincial Bond Purchase Program of up to $50 billion, to supplement its Provincial Money Market Purchase Program. Further, the Bank is announcing a new Corporate Bond Purchase Program, in which the Bank will acquire up to a total of $10 billion in investment grade corporate bonds in the secondary market. Both of these programs will be put in place in the coming weeks. Finally, the Bank is further enhancing its term repo facility to permit funding for up to 24 months.
These measures will work in combination to ease pressure on Canadian borrowers. As containment restrictions are eased and economic activity resumes, fiscal and monetary policy actions will help underpin confidence and stimulate spending by consumers and businesses to restore growth. The Bank’s Governing Council stands ready to adjust the scale or duration of its programs if necessary. All the Bank’s actions are aimed at helping to bridge the current period of containment and create the conditions for a sustainable recovery and achievement of the inflation target over time.
Bank drops overnight benchmark rate to 1.25%
As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada announced that it is dropping its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points. The Bank’s overnight interest rate target currently sits at 1.25 per cent, down from 1.75 per cent. Despite Canada’s economy and inflation both hovering at expected levels, the Bank cites global and Canadian economic shocks due to coronavirus concerns.
The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on April 15, 2020. Read the release below:
Before the outbreak, the global economy was showing signs of stabilizing, as the Bank had projected in its January Monetary Policy Report (MPR). However, COVID-19 represents a significant health threat to people in a growing number of countries. In consequence, business activity in some regions has fallen sharply and supply chains have been disrupted. This has pulled down commodity prices and the Canadian dollar has depreciated. Global markets are reacting to the spread of the virus by repricing risk across a broad set of assets, making financial conditions less accommodative. It is likely that as the virus spreads, business and consumer confidence will deteriorate, further depressing activity.
In Canada, GDP growth slowed to 0.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2019, in line with the Bank’s forecast, although its composition was different. Consumption was stronger than expected, supported by healthy labour income growth. Residential investment continued to grow, albeit at a more moderate pace than earlier in the year. Meanwhile, both business investment and exports weakened.
It is becoming clear that the first quarter of 2020 will be weaker than the Bank had expected. The drop in Canada’s terms of trade, if sustained, will weigh on income growth. Meanwhile, business investment does not appear to be recovering as was expected following positive trade policy developments. In addition, rail line blockades, strikes by Ontario teachers, and winter storms in some regions are dampening economic activity in the first quarter.
CPI inflation in January was stronger than expected, due to temporary factors. Core measures of inflation all remain around 2 percent, consistent with an economy that has been operating close to potential.
In light of all these developments, the outlook is clearly weaker now than it was in January. As the situation evolves, Governing Council stands ready to adjust monetary policy further if required to support economic growth and keep inflation on target. While markets continue to function well, the Bank will continue to ensure that the Canadian financial system has sufficient liquidity.
The Bank continues to closely monitor economic and financial conditions, in coordination with other G7 central banks and fiscal authorities.
As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will maintain its overnight interest rate target at 1.75 per cent, marking its tenth straight hold since it last raised its interest rate.
The Bank cites positive activity including a stabilizing global economy and recent trade developments. However, uncertainty looms and geopolitical tensions have re-emerged. The Bank revised its outlook for the Canadian economy since the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Canada’s short-term growth will be weaker and the output gap wider than was originally expected. The Bank now estimates growth of 0.3 per cent for Q4 of 2019 and 1.3 per cent in Q1 of 2020.
The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on March 4, 2020. Read the full release below:
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 ¾ percent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 percent and the deposit rate is 1 ½ percent.
The global economy is showing signs of stabilization, and some recent trade developments have been positive. However, there remains a high degree of uncertainty and geopolitical tensions have re-emerged, with tragic consequences. The Canadian economy has been resilient but indicators since the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR) have been mixed.
Data for Canada indicate that growth in the near term will be weaker, and the output gap wider, than the Bank projected in October. The Bank now estimates growth of 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. Exports fell in late 2019, and business investment appears to have weakened after a strong third quarter. Job creation has slowed and indicators of consumer confidence and spending have been unexpectedly soft. In contrast, residential investment was robust through most of 2019, moderating to a still-solid pace in the fourth quarter.
Some of the slowdown in growth in late 2019 was related to special factors that include strikes, poor weather, and inventory adjustments. The weaker data could also signal that global economic conditions have been affecting Canada’s economy to a greater extent than was predicted. Moreover, during the past year Canadians have been saving a larger share of their incomes, which could signal increased consumer caution. This could dampen consumer spending but help to alleviate financial vulnerabilities at the same time.
Looking ahead, Canadian business investment and exports are expected to contribute modestly to growth, supported by stronger global activity and demand. The Bank is also projecting a pickup in household spending, supported by population and income growth, as well as by the recent federal income tax cut. In its January MPR, the Bank projects the global economy will grow by just over 3 percent in 2020 and 3 ¼ per cent in 2021. For Canada, the Bank now forecasts real GDP will grow by 1.6 percent this year and 2 per cent in 2021, following 1.6 per cent growth in 2019.
While the output gap has widened in recent months, measures of inflation remain around 2 percent. This is consistent with an economy that, until recently, has been operating close to capacity. The Bank expects inflation will stay around the 2 percent target over the projection horizon, with some fluctuations in 2020 from volatility in energy prices. Meanwhile, labour markets in most regions have little slack and wages continue to firm.
In determining the future path for the Bank’s policy interest rate, Governing Council will be watching closely to see if the recent slowdown in growth is more persistent than forecast. In assessing incoming data, the Bank will be paying particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market, and business investment.
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