Interest rate cut in June possible as policy rate held at 5%: Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada is holding the key interest rate steady at 5 per cent. Business Editor Kris McCusker with whether rates could start falling in the near future.

By Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press

The Bank of Canada could begin lowering its key interest rate as soon as its next decision, governor Tiff Macklem said after the central bank decided to hold it steady for now. 

“Yes, it’s within the realm of possibilities,” Macklem said in response to a question about the possibility of a rate cut at its June 5 announcement. 

The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate at five per cent Wednesday and said that it’s begun to see the economic conditions necessary to lower interest rates.

Economic data since January has increased the central bank’s confidence that inflation will continue to slow even as economic growth picks up, governor Tiff Macklem said.

While the Bank of Canada’s conditions to begin lowering interest rates have been met, it needs to see price pressures ease for longer to make sure the decline in inflation is sustained.

“I realize that what most Canadians want to know is when we will lower our policy interest rate. What do we need to see to be convinced it’s time to cut?” Macklem said. 

“The short answer is, we are seeing what we need to see but we need to see it for longer to be confident that progress toward price stability will be sustained.”

The Bank of Canada’s latest announcement suggests although the central bank is largely encouraged by the progress made so far on the inflation front, it plans to continue taking a cautious approach with its monetary policy decisions.

Economists reacting to Wednesday’s news continue to expect the central bank to begin lowering its policy rate around the middle of the year, with many leaning toward June. However, they acknowledge that will require the slowdown in underlying inflation to be maintained over the next couple of months. 

Jeremy Kronick, an expert on monetary policy at the C.D. Howe Institute, says the economy has clearly bent to the will of higher interest rates and inflation has backed off meaningfully.

“All those things are good. I think they just want to see those trends continue,” Kronick said of the central bank. 
Canada’s inflation rate slowed to 2.8 per cent in February, while measures of underlying price pressures have also eased.

The central bank has been particularly focused on measures of core inflation, which gauge underlying price pressures by stripping out volatile price movements.

Along with the rate announcement the Bank of Canada released its quarterly monetary policy report, which suggests the likelihood of a “soft landing” — whereby inflation slows without a significant economic downturn — has increased.

The central bank has slightly revised down its forecast for inflation this year and continues to expect it to return to the two per cent target by the end of 2025.

Economic growth is expected to come in stronger than previously anticipated this year. The central bank is forecasting the economy to grow by 1.5 per cent this year and about two per cent in 2025 and 2026.

Global growth has also been revised up to 2.8 per cent for this year.

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