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No BoC Rate Change for 16th Straight Month

Bank-of-CanadaCanada’s key interest rate will begin 2012 exactly where it’s been since September 2010 – unchanged at 1.00%.

It’s the longest stretch on record without a Bank of Canada rate change.

Economists didn’t expect the BOC to move rates at this meeting. Instead, they were looking for any change of language in the Bank’s official statement. As usual, there were a handful of conspicuous statements in that release. The BoC said:

  • “The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated (since October).”
  • “…very favourable financing conditions are expected to buttress consumer spending and housing activity.”
  • “…the ratio of household debt to income is projected to rise further.”
  • “The economy is only anticipated to return to full capacity by the third quarter of 2013, one quarter earlier than was expected in October.”
  • “With the target interest rate near historic lows and the financial system functioning well, there is considerable monetary policy stimulus in Canada.”

Analysts reading between the lines say the Bank’s statements imply low odds of further rate cuts anytime soon.

In fact, the next BoC rate meeting is March 8, 2012. The financial market (overnight index swap market) is pricing in no rate change at that meeting, with just a 12% chance of a cut.

From a mortgage standpoint, the immediate result of all this is that prime rate should remain at 3.00%. That means payments stay the same for existing variable-rate mortgage holders.

Rob McLister, CMT