Bank of Canada Hikes Interest Rate to 1.50%, CAD Climbs in Response

Stephen Poloz. iPolitics  Matthew Usherwood

Governor Stephen Poloz said that while it was not easy for policymakers to set aside "all the talk" about trade, the bank hiked rates amid increasing confidence in its outlook, with Canada's economy firing on all cylinders despite the tensions.

Citing a prudent, data-dependent approach, Poloz hasn't touched the rate since he increased it in January, a move that followed increases previous year in September and July. In particular, the Bank is monitoring the economy's adjustment to higher interest rates and the evolution of capacity and wage pressures, as well as the response of companies and consumers to trade actions.

The decision will likely prompt Canada's big banks to raise their prime rates, thereby passing on the rate increase along to their customers. In particular, the trade impacts were caused by the Trump administration's recent steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and, in response, Ottawa's retaliatory duties on US imports.

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But it is watching what happens in trade tensions with the United States, that it predicts will cut almost 0.7 per cent from economic growth by the end of 2020.

The Credit Counselling Society's president and CEO says a rate hike is positive for those with funds in a savings account, particularly seniors who depend on interest income to help cover their expenses. According to ratehub.ca, a mortgage worth $400,000 amortized over 25 years with a 5-year variable rate of 2.50 per cent, will now cost $50 per month or $600 per year.

The Bank of Canada will also release its updated economic projections today in its latest edition of its quarterly monetary policy report.

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TD senior economist Brian DePratto wrote in a note to clients Wednesday that the messaging is consistent with a central bank that's "committed to a rate hike cycle, but leaves sufficient room to adjust to evolving events".

The Bank of Canada has increased its key interest rate by a quarter-point to 1.5 per cent in a move that was widely expected.

Poloz also signaled he was comfortable with how financial markets were interpreting the central bank's message, noting the hike was "highly anticipated".

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