Bank of Canada raises rates, says more hikes to come

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks at a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday

The bank says persistent trade uncertainty and Canada's tariff fight with the United States will shave almost 0.7 per cent from economic growth by the end of 2020 - but it predicts the blow to be largely offset by the positive impact of higher oil prices.

"Despite hiking rates today, the Bank of Canada is in no rush to continue pushing rates higher given the uncertainties surrounding trade, lingering concerns about housing and household debt, and renewed belief that there's some labour market slack". This effect is now judged to be larger, given mounting trade tensions.

The Bank said Canada's economy is operating "close to capacity", implying that it expects to see inflation rise in the future.

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Canadian businesses must also contend with the uncertainty surrounding the hard renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, for which talks have stalled. It warns that "escalating trade tensions pose considerable risks to the outlook" at the global level.

The Bank expects the global economy to grow by about 3 ¾ per cent in 2018 and 3 ½ per cent in 2019, in line with the April Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

"This should be consistent with a more firm pricing for another hike this year", said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in NY.

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As widely anticipated by economists, the Bank of Canada raised its trend-setting policy rate to 1.5 per cent, up from 1.25 per cent on Wednesday.

"Based on our interpretation of the bank's statement, we think that policymakers envisage a somewhat faster pace of tightening, but still think that disappointing data will persuade the governor to stand pat for some time and then, eventually, to force a reversal, with rates falling next year". CPI inflation is expected to edge up further to about 2.5 per cent before settling back to 2 per cent by the second half of 2019.

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