The Bank of Canada maintained the overnight rate at 5.0%, while stating that it will continue with Quantitative Tightening (QT).
The bank highlighted the slowing in economic momentum stating, “the Canadian economy has entered a period of weaker growth, which is needed to relieve price pressures. Economic growth slowed sharply in the second quarter of 2023, with output contracting by 0.2% at an annualized rate. This reflected a marked weakening in consumption growth and a decline in housing activity.”
On the persistence of high inflation, it stated that “recent CPI data indicate that inflationary pressures remain broad-based. After easing to 2.8% in June, CPI inflation moved up to 3.3% in July, averaging close to 3% in line with the Bank’s projection. With the recent increase in gasoline prices, CPI inflation is expected to be higher in the near term before easing again.”
On the future path of policy, the Bank recognized that “excess demand in the economy is easing”, but that it remains “prepared to increase the policy interest rate further if needed.”
No surprises today as the BoC held the policy rate at 5%. With last week’s GDP release showing a contraction in the second quarter, and growing signs of a cooling in the job market, there was little pressure for the BoC to keep raising rates. Our expectation is that this period of “weak economic growth” is set to continue over the rest of this year and into early 2024.
Although the BoC has moved back to the sidelines, it doesn’t mean it will let up on its hawkish rhetoric. It needs to make sure that financial conditions remain tight for the economy to continue to slow. Markets are still in the ‘will they, won’t they’ camp, with pricing for another hike around 50%. Given that the slowdown looks to continue, we think the bar for another hike has been raised.