Today, the Bank of Canada showed once again that it is seriously concerned about inflation by raising its overnight benchmark rate to 1.50%. This latest 50 basis point increase follows a similar-sized move in April and is considered the fastest rate hike cycle in over two decades.
With it, the Bank brings its policy rate closer to its pre-pandemic level. As a result, the Bank Rate rises to 1.75% and the deposit rate increases to 1.50%. The Bank is also continuing its policy of quantitative tightening and signalled that more rate hikes are likely.
In rationalizing its 3rd increase of 2022, the Bank cited several factors, most especially that “the risk of elevated inflation becoming entrenched has risen.” As a result, the BoC will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to target and keep inflation expectations well anchored.
These are the highlights of today’s announcement.
Inflation at home and abroad
- Largely driven by higher prices for food and energy, the Bank noted that CPI inflation reached 6.8% for the month of April, well above its forecast and “will likely move even higher in the near term before beginning to ease”
- As “pervasive” input pressures feed through into consumer prices, inflation continues to broaden, with core measures of inflation ranging between 3.2% and 5.1%
- Almost 70% of CPI categories now show inflation above 3%
- The increase in global inflation is occurring as the global economy slows
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s COVID-related lockdowns, and ongoing supply disruptions are all weighing on activity and boosting inflation
- The war has increased uncertainty, is putting further upward pressure on prices for energy and agricultural commodities and “dampening the outlook, particularly in Europe”
- U.S. labour market strength continues, with wage pressures intensifying, while private domestic U.S. demand remains robust despite the American economy “contracting in the first quarter of 2022”
- Global financial conditions have tightened and markets have been volatile
Canadian economy and the housing market
- Economic growth is strong and the economy is clearly “operating in excess demand,” a change in the language the Bank used in April when it said our economy was “moving into excess demand”
- National accounts data for the first quarter of 2022 showed GDP growth of 3.1%, in line with the Bank’s April Monetary Policy Report projection
- Job vacancies are elevated, companies are reporting widespread labour shortages, and wage growth has been “picking up and broadening across sectors”
- Housing market activity is moderating from exceptionally high levels
- With consumer spending in Canada remaining robust and exports anticipated to strengthen, growth in the second quarter is expected to be “solid”
With inflation persisting well above target and “expected to move higher in the near term,” the Bank used today’s announcement to again forewarn that “interest rates will need to rise further.”
The pace of future increases in its policy rate will be guided by the Bank’s ongoing assessment of the economy and inflation.
In case there was any doubt, the Bank’s message today was clear: it is prepared to act more forcefully if needed to meet its commitment to achieve its 2% inflation target.
July 13, 2022 is the date of the BoC’s next scheduled policy announcement. First National’s executive summary will follow that decision and as always, you can find other important capital market insights on the Resources page of this website.