Bank of Canada points to trade tensions as it leaves rates unchanged

Bank Of Canada Leaves Key Interest Rate Unchanged

The central bank revealed Wednesday it will keep its benchmark interest rate - known as the target for the overnight rate - at 1.75 per cent. Policy-makers stressed the damaging effects of trade disputes on the economy.

The central bank's move Wednesday maintains its trend-setting rate at 1.75 per cent.

Despite the hold, the central bank plans to continue the gradual tightening initiated in 2017.

But the timing of upcoming rate increases, the bank said, will now depend on several new factors that have emerged in recent weeks. The Bank of Canada has estimated it will need to gradually raise the interest rate until it reaches a level between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent. Market watchers, many of whom had expected the bank to increase the rate again in January, are now predicting a slower pace following the concerns expressed by Poloz in recent days regarding recent economic developments.

The Bank of Canada is scheduled to announce its next decision on interest rates on January 9.

"Now, they're not sure anymore", Lavoie said in an interview.

DePratto added that Poloz's speech in Toronto on Thursday will carry more significance than usual given all the moving parts in the Canadian economy right now.

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Oil prices have fallen sharply since the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR), reflecting a combination of geopolitical developments, uncertainty about global growth prospects, and expansion of US shale oil production.

The bank said the Canadian economy had grown in line with expectations in the third quarter but data suggested less momentum going into the fourth quarter.

Poloz pointed to an unexpected decline in business investment over the summer as a key development - but he said the dive in oil prices has been the most-important "new shock".

The Alberta provincial government in the country has implemented an emergency cut to production levels to boost prices.

The bank expects corporate investment to improve - outside the energy sector - following last week's signing of the updated North American trade agreement, new federal tax incentives and ongoing pressure from rising demand.

Citing moderating global growth, a "materially weaker" outlook for the oil sector, a faster-than-expected deceleration of inflation, a drop in business investment and downward historical revisions to output, the Bank of Canada said "there may be additional room for non-inflationary growth". CPI inflation, at 2.4 per cent in October, is just above target but is expected to ease in coming months by more than the Bank had previously forecast, due to lower gasoline prices.

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