Montreal Gazette

BOC poised to raise rates next year


The Bank of Canada is still on course to raise interest rates to 0.50 per cent towards the end of next year, according to economists polled by Reuters, despite a surprise contractio­n in economic growth last quarter.

Respondent­s surveyed Aug. 30-Sept. 3 were almost evenly split on the risk that first interest rate hike in the post-pandemic cycle came earlier or later than they expected, with nine saying earlier and eight saying later.

Canadian policy-makers were forecast to keep interest rates unchanged at the Sept. 8 meeting, according to all 34 economists in the wider poll.

The BOC is set to taper its relatively small $2-billionper-week asset purchases program again — most likely in October by $1 billion — said 16 of 19 economists.

That is when the central bank provides its next quarterly update on its growth and inflation forecasts.

But policy-makers are now in a trickier spot, at least in the near-term, with a surprise economic contractio­n of 1.1 per cent reported for the second quarter, well below their expectatio­n for two-per-cent growth.

Still, the median view for a rate hike in Q4 2022 have held, with 16 of 19 common contributo­rs expecting at least one hike by end-2022 in the latest poll, compared to 14 in a July survey.

An expected 0.4-per-cent economic contractio­n in July despite the economy reopening from pandemic lockdowns gives support for a cautious stance, and stands in contrast to a still very robust economic expansion south of the border.

“Inflation has firmed significan­tly and, despite the possibilit­y of a brief period of soft growth, the overall economic recovery remains on track,” said Nick Bennenbroe­k, internatio­nal economist at Wells Fargo.

The country is headed for an early federal election on Sept. 20. But 90 per cent of economists, 15 of 18, said the outcome would not have a material impact on their views on the Canadian economy and monetary policy in the medium-term.

Only three respondent­s said otherwise.

“You're likely looking at a minority government, so they will not get everything they want, no matter who wins,” said Benjamin Reitzes, rates and macro strategist at BMO.

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