Prime to stay the same until March 2011

Report says BoC likely to hold rates until March 2011

This month’s RBC Financial Markets Monthly publication reports that the Bank of Canada is likely to hold rates until March 2010.

Report Excerpts:

Canada takes a breather after sprinting out of recession

With real GDP standing a hair’s breadth away from its pre-recession peak and final domestic demand already treading into new territory, reports of more moderate activity in July did not prove too surprising. The sharp recovery in the housing market started to stall in mid-2010 because pent-up demand generated during the recession was satiated and buying—ahead of the mild tightening in mortgage rules and the implementation or increase in the HST in three provinces—was exhausted. The robust sales pace left a high level of household debt in its wake resulting in the debt-to-income ratio rising to an all-time high in the first quarter.

Recent growth has not been strong enough to exert significant downward pressure on the unemployment rate and inflation pressures have been moderate with the core rate at 1.6%. The headline inflation rate was 1.7% in August, thereby holding below the Bank’s 2% target, even after the harmonization of provincial and federal sales taxes in Ontario and BC were incorporated into the price measure. Unlike in the US, where we expect that core inflation will remain very low, we forecast Canada’s core rate to hold just below the 2% target during the forecast horizon and gravitate above 2% in mid-2012.

Rate increases likely to resume in early 2011

Our overall assessment of the Canadian outlook has changed little in the past month, so we are maintaining our call that the Bank will gradually raise the overnight rate to 2.25% in the second half of 2011. This gradual reduction in policy accommodation will keep a lid on the degree that term interest rates will rise especially against a backdrop of very low U.S. rates. We trimmed our 2011 forecast for yields looking for the two-year rate to end 2011 at 2.85% and the 10-year bond yield at 3.75%.

Other highlights from this month’s Financial Markets Monthly:

  • U.S. data have been a mixed bag and confirm that the U.S. recovery is continuing, albeit slowly. The risk of deflation, not inflation, appears to be at the top of the mind for policymakers now with the Fed likely to implement another round of quantitative easing to ensure that growth and inflation do not slow further.
  • The uncertain global outlook is likely to be the dominant factor in the Bank of Canada shifting to the sidelines for the remainder of 2010.
  • Policymakers in the UK are unlikely to deliver a further easing in policy unless conditions become much worse.
  • The RBA stayed on the sidelines this month although the statement showed a clear tightening bias which sets up for a hike before year end.
  • Canada’s economy sputtered in July after very robust domestic demand earlier in the year.
  • Inflation remains mild with both the headline and core rates below the Bank’s 2% target.
  • The uncertain global outlook is likely to be the dominant factor in the Bank shifting to the sidelines for the remainder of 2010.