Bank of Canada raises interest rates: Canada becomes first country in G7 to hike

For the first time since 2007, the Bank of Canada raised its target for the overnight rate by one quarter of one percentage point to 0.5 per cent on June 1, 2010. The Bank rate was raised to 0.75 per cent and the deposit rate was unchanged at 0.25 per cent, thereby re-establishing the normal operating band of 50 basis points. The Bank had been keeping its benchmark interest rate at the lowest possible level for more than a year to stimulate the fragile economic recovery. The Bank noted that while that global economic recovery is well under way, it is unfolding unevenly on a global basis. It characterized the ongoing imbalances as “strong momentum in emerging market economies,” and “some consolidation of the recovery in… industrialized economies,” counterbalanced by the “possibility of renewed weakness in Europe.” The Bank keyed in on current volatility in the European markets as the largest downside risk to global economic growth saying, “Recent tensions in Europe are likely to result in higher borrowing costs and more rapid tightening of fiscal policy in some countries.” The Bank noted that spillover into Canada from events in Europe has resulted in a modest decline in commodity prices and some tightening in financial conditions. The Bank downplayed slightly stronger than expected inflation and economic growth saying, “CPI inflation has been in line with the Bank’s April projections,” and “activity in Canada is unfolding largely as expected.” It also played up the idea that consumer spending would soon subside: “Going forward, household spending is expected to decelerate to a pace more consistent with income growth.” As of June 1st, the advertised five-year conventional mortgage rate stood at 5.99 per cent. This is down 0.66 per cent from one year earlier, but stands 0.14 per cent above where it stood when the Bank made its previous interest rate announcement on April 20, 2010. It is also one half of a percentage point above where it stood at the beginning of the year. “The Bank left its options open as to whether it will raise rates again when it makes its next interest rate announcement on July 20th,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “I expect it will raise rates by another quarter of a percentage point at that time, but will take a pause at some point later this year, especially since interest rates in the U.S. are likely on hold until next year.” “Even though they are on the rise, mortgage rates will still be at low levels that are housing market friendly, with home financing remaining within reach for many homebuyers,” he added. The Bank will make its next scheduled announcement on July 20th. http://creastats.crea.ca/natl/interest_rate_trends.htm (CREA 06/01/2010)

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