Bank of Canada holds its interest rate steady, publishes updated economic forecasts

General Bob Rees 25 Oct

Thank you to one of our preferred partners, First National, for their summary!

Bank of Canada holds its interest rate steady, publishes updated economic forecasts

Today, the Bank of Canada announced that it would maintain its overnight policy interest rate at 5.00%, stating that there is “growing evidence” that past interest rate increases are dampening economic activity and relieving price pressures.

This decision provides some comfort to borrowers who have seen their mortgage costs rise steadily since March of 2022. As for real relief – in the form of rate cuts – the Bank demurred, noting that its preferred measures of core inflation show “little downward momentum.” Consequently, the Bank said it is holding this policy rate and continuing its current policy of quantitative tightening.

We capture the Bank’s observations and its latest economic forecasts in the summary below.

Inflation facts and outlook

  • In Canada, inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) has been volatile in recent months: 2.8% in June, 4.0% in August, and 3.8% in September
  • Higher interest rates are moderating inflation in many goods that people buy on credit, and this is spreading to services
  • Food inflation is easing from very high rates; however, in addition to elevated mortgage interest costs, inflation in rent and other housing costs remains high
  • Near-term inflation expectations and corporate pricing behaviour are normalizing only gradually, and wages are still growing around 4% to 5%
  • The Bank’s preferred measures of core inflation show little downward momentum

Canadian housing and economic performance

  • There is growing evidence that past interest rate increases are dampening economic activity and relieving price pressures
  • Consumption has been subdued, with softer demand for housing, durable goods and many services
  • Weaker demand and higher borrowing costs are weighing on business investment
  • A surge in Canada’s population is easing labour market pressures in some sectors while adding to housing demand and consumption
  • In the labour market, recent job gains have been below labour force growth and job vacancies have continued to ease; however, the labour market remains “on the tight side” and wage pressures persist
  • Overall, a range of indicators suggest that supply and demand in the economy are now “approaching balance”

Global economic performance and outlook

  • The global economy is slowing and growth is forecast to moderate further as past increases in policy interest rates and the recent surge in global bond yields weigh on demand
  • The Bank projects global GDP growth of 2.9% this year, 2.3% in 2024 and 2.6% in 2025. While this outlook is little changed from the Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report, the composition has shifted, with the US economy proving stronger and economic activity in China weaker than expected
  • Growth in the Euro area has “slowed further”
  • Inflation has been easing in most economies, as supply bottlenecks resolve and weaker demand relieves price pressures but underlying inflation is persisting, meaning central banks must “continue to be vigilant”
  • Oil prices are higher than the BoC assumed in July, and the war in Israel and Gaza is a new source of geopolitical uncertainty

Summary and Outlook

The BoC noted that after averaging 1% over the past year, economic growth is expected to remain “weak” for the next year before increasing in late 2024 and through 2025. Near-term weakness in growth reflects both the broadening impact of past increases in interest rates and slower foreign demand. The subsequent economic “pickup” will be driven by household spending as well as stronger exports and business investment in response to improving foreign demand. Spending by governments contributes materially to growth over the forecast horizon. Overall, the Bank expects the Canadian economy to grow by 1.2% this year, 0.9% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025.

In the Bank’s October projection, CPI inflation is expected to average about 3.5% through the middle of next year before gradually easing to 2% in 2025. Inflation is expected to return to the Bank’s target about the same time as policymakers forecast in their July 2023 projection, “but the near-term path is higher because of energy prices and ongoing persistence in core inflation.”

As for what to expect going forward, the Bank had this to say about interest rates: “With clearer signs that monetary policy is moderating spending and relieving price pressures, Governing Council decided to hold the policy rate at 5% and to continue to normalize the Bank’s balance sheet. However, Governing Council is concerned that progress towards price stability is slow and inflationary risks have increased, and is prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed.”

The message is therefore clear: the Bank wants to see downward momentum in core inflation before it changes tack, and continues to be focused on the “balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth and corporate pricing behaviour.”

Once again, the Bank ended its communique with a familiar phrase: it remains “resolute in its commitment to restoring price stability for Canadians.”

What’s next?

The Bank’s final (scheduled) interest rate announcement of 2023 takes place December 6th and we will follow immediately after with our next executive summary.

Good News On the Inflation Front Suggests Policy Rates Have Peaked

General Bob Rees 17 Oct

Good News On the Inflation Front Suggests Policy Rates Have Peaked
Today’s inflation report for September was considerably better than expected, ending the three-month rise in inflation. Not only did the headline inflation rate fall, but so did the core measures of inflation on a year-over-year basis and a three-month moving average basis. This, in combination with the weak Business Outlook Survey released yesterday, suggests that the overnight policy rate at 5% may be the peak in rates. While I do not expect the Bank to begin cutting rates until the middle of next year, the worst of the tightening cycle may well be over.

Offsetting the deceleration in the all-items CPI was a year-over-year increase in gasoline prices, which rose faster in September (+7.5%) compared with August (+0.8%) due to a base-year effect. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 3.7% in September, following a 4.1% increase in August. Looking ahead to the October inflation report, the base effect for headline CPI is favourable, as CPI surged in October 2022. Gasoline prices are down about 7% so far this month. Given the war in the Middle East, however, there is no guarantee that this will hold, but if it does, the October headline CPI could move into the low-3% range.

On a monthly basis, the CPI fell 0.1% in September after a 0.4% gain in August. The monthly slowdown was mainly driven by lower month-over-month prices for gasoline (-1.3%) in September. Goods inflation fell 0.3% from a month earlier, the first time since December 2022, and grew 3.6% from a year ago versus 3.7% in August. Services inflation was unchanged from August, the first time it hasn’t grown on a monthly basis since November 2021, while the rate slowed to 3.9% on a yearly basis, from 4.3% in August.

Yesterday’s Survey of Consumer Expectations showed that perceptions of current inflation remain well above actual inflation.  One reason is the very visible level of grocery and gasoline prices. As the chart below shows, food inflation–though still elevated–decelerated to 5.9% last month, and CPI excluding food and energy fell to a cycle-low 2.8%. Large monthly gains in September 2022, when grocery prices increased at the fastest pace in 41 years, fell out of the 12-month movements and put downward pressure on the indexes.
Prices for durable goods rose at a slower pace year over year in September (+0.4%) compared with August (+1.4%). The purchase of new passenger vehicles index contributed the most to the slowdown, rising 1.7% year over year in September, following a 3.1% gain in August. The deceleration in the price of new passenger vehicles was partly attributable to improved inventory levels compared with a year ago.

Additionally, furniture prices (-4.6%) and household appliances (-2.3%) continued to decline year-over-year in September, contributing to the slowdown in durable goods. Consumers paid less on a year-over-year basis for air transportation (-21.1 %) in September, coinciding with a gradual increase in airline flights over the previous 12 months.

Other measures of core inflation followed by the Bank of Canada also decelerated.

Bottom Line

According to Bloomberg News calculations, “A three-month moving average of underlying price pressures that Governor Tiff Macklem has flagged as key to policymakers’ thinking fell to an annualized pace of 3.67%, from 4.29% a month earlier.”  While this is still well above the Bank’s 2% target, the global economy is slowing, the Canadian and US economies are slowing, and with any luck at all, the Bank of Canada might see inflation move to within its target range next year. However, the central bank will be cautious, refraining from rate cuts until the middle of next year. The full impact of rate hikes has yet to be felt. The next move by the Bank of Canada could be a rate cut, but not until next year.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Residential Mortgage Commentary – Positive housing market sentiment

General Bob Rees 3 Oct

Thank you to our partners at First National for the below stats and positive info.  Enjoy!



Residential Mortgage Commentary – Positive housing market sentiment

  • Oct 2, 2023
  • First National Financial LP

An interesting new survey suggests a growing number of Canadians may be getting ready to move back into the housing market.

The newly launched survey by Dye and Durham indicates one in ten are looking to sell their primary residence and move into a new one within the next 12 months; double the number who made the move in the past year.

The number of respondents planning to expand their holdings is also up significantly with 8.0% saying they intend to buy an investment property or vacation home in the next year.  That is nearly double the 5.0% who did so in the past year.  First-time buying decisions are also getting stronger.  Eight percent of respondents expect to jump into the market, up from 4.0% who actually made a purchase in the last 12 months.

The sidelines of the housing market will still be crowded though.  The survey suggests 23% of Canadians will bide their time until interest rates come down.  Nearly a quarter (24%) say they are waiting for prices to ease.

A separate survey of people who have bought a home in the last 4 years (by a popular real estate marketplace) shows that the buying decisions of 93% of respondents were influenced by rising interest rates and competitive markets.  At the same time 43% said they wanted to buy before prices increased further.

Nearly a third (30%) of the respondents say their finances are tight right now, with 10% saying they are unable to meet basic needs.  Still, they do not regret their purchase with 45% saying they will still be happy even if there is another interest rate increase this year.