Home Economy News Bank of Canada says conditions for rate cuts should emerge this year

Bank of Canada says conditions for rate cuts should emerge this year


Bank of Canada says conditions for rate cuts should emerge this year By Reuters

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Published Mar 20, 2024 01:35PM ET
Updated Mar 20, 2024 02:37PM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Bank of Canada building is pictured in Ottawa June 1, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie//File Photo

By Promit Mukherjee and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Bank of Canada (BoC) governors agreed this month that conditions for rate cuts should materialize this year if the economy evolved as forecast, a document published on Wednesday showed.

The mention of 2024 – in minutes of deliberations ahead of the March 6 rate announcement – marked the first time the central bank had officially attached a specific time line in a document to when it might start easing rates from their 22-year high of 5%.

But the minutes also show the six-member rate-setting Governing Council was divided over when the conditions will be right for cuts.

Governor Tiff Macklem said on March 6 that persistent underlying inflation meant it was too early to consider a cut and declined to lay out a calendar.

But the minutes show that in private, the governing council had been more specific.

“Members agreed that if the economy evolves in line with the Bank’s projection, the conditions for rate cuts should materialize over the course of this year,” they said.

“However, there was some diversity of views among Governing Council members about when there would likely be enough evidence that these conditions were in place, and how to weight the risks to the outlook.”

The BoC forecasts weak growth in the first quarter before picking up gradually to end the year with an annualized growth of just under 1%.

Inflation is projected to stay around 3% through the first half of 2024, easing to 2.5% in the second half, and returning to the bank’s 2% target sometime in 2025.

Canada’s inflation rate in February eased to 2.8%, the lowest in eight months.

“The share of components of the CPI growing above 3% continued to decline but was still close to 45% and significantly above the historical average,” the minutes said.

Money markets modestly trimmed their bets for a rate cut in June to just over 23% from roughly 24% before the minutes were released. A rate cut in July is still fully priced in.

The Canadian dollar strengthened slightly against the U.S. dollar with the loonie trading 0.18% stronger at 1.3538 to a dollar.

The minutes also show the governing council was still deeply concerned about the high rate of shelter inflation.

But the members felt that most components of housing were “still rising significantly in January,” and that if the housing sector rebounds during spring, shelter price inflation could rise which could delay the return to the mid-point target.

“Officials seem to be warning Canadians that, if the housing market responds too aggressively… the timing of such monetary easing could be delayed,” said Royce Mendes, head of macro strategy for Desjardins Group.

On the positive side, they noted that wage pressures have started to ease.

Bank of Canada says conditions for rate cuts should emerge this year

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