The Bank of Canada kept its main interest rate unchanged for an eighth meeting and said there is a “diminished” need for an increase as Europe’s fiscal crisis and a slow U.S. rebound hobble the global recovery.
The Ottawa-based central bank left the target for overnight loans between commercial banks at 1 percent, where it has been since last September, as forecast by all 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The world’s 10th largest economy shrank in the second quarter as a strong dollar and weak U.S. demand weighed on Canada, which depends on exports for one-third of its output. The central bank’s decision echoed signals sent by policy makers in Sweden, Australia and Japan .
“In light of slowing global economic momentum and heightened financial uncertainty, the need to withdraw monetary policy stimulus has diminished,” the bank’s governing council, led by Governor Mark Carney, 46, said in a statement today.
The Bank of Canada reiterated today it expects economic growth to resume in the second half of this year, led by business investment and consumer spending. Output shrank at an annualized 0.4 percent rate in the second quarter, which the bank said was “largely due to temporary factors.”
“Given its outlook that Canada’s economy will pick up somewhat in the second half of the year, it believes it doesn’t need to inject further stimulus,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “There is still a sense that rates will need to go up in the future, but that future is pushed off.”
The Canadian dollar gained 0.3 percent to 98.77 cents per U.S. Dollar at 11:17 a.m. in Toronto, from 99.05 cents yesterday, when it touched 99.66 cents, the weakest since Aug. 11. The yield on the three-month overnight index swap rose to 0.976 percent from 0.951 yesterday as some investors pared bets on a rate cut, and the yield on the benchmark two-year government bond rose to 0.90 percent from 0.86 percent.
The bank’s previous announcement in July said “some of the considerable monetary policy stimulus currently in place will be withdrawn” as the economy recovers. Policy makers today listed challenges facing the economy, including the country’s strong dollar and the need for “significant initiatives by European authorities” to boost investor confidence.
Sweden’s Riksbank today abandoned a planned rate increase after seven consecutive moves, while Australia’s central bank Governor Glenn Stevens signaled he’s prepared to extend a pause in interest rates because of global market turmoil. The Bank of Japan also kept monetary policy unchanged as it gauges the effect of stimulus. The Czech central bank may delay raising interest rates if the euro area’s debt crisis escalates further, board member Lubomir Lizal said in a Bloomberg interview in Prague yesterday.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England have interest-rate decisions tomorrow, and economists predict the U.K. rate will remain at 0.5 percent and the ECB’s at 1.5 percent. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve to keep its benchmark rate at a record low at least through mid-2013 to revive a recovery that’s “considerably slower” than anticipated.
“The overarching theme of ‘lower for longer’ remains firmly intact,” in Canada, said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank’s TD Securities unit. At the same time, “the bar to a cut in the overnight rate is set exceptionally high.”
Slower global growth will be a drag on Canada’s exports and ease inflation pressures, the Bank of Canada said today. “Net exports are now expected to remain a major source of weakness, reflecting more modest global demand and ongoing competitiveness challenges, in particular the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar,” the bank said.
The Bank of Canada’s mandate is to set policy aiming inflation at a 2 percent annual pace. Consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in July from a year earlier, the eighth month it was above target.
Some investors resumed betting that the Bank of Canada will cut interest rates after Statistics Canada reported Aug. 31 that the economy shrank, Brazil unexpectedly cut rates last week and Switzerland yesterday offered unlimited funds to cap a rise in the franc. In the U.S., which buys three-quarters of Canada’s exports, a report last week showed job creation stalled in August.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last week that Canada has more flexibility than the U.S. central bank. “With respect to the limited tools available given the rate presently in place by the Fed in the U.S., we have more room to move in Canada than there is to move in the United States,” Flaherty said Aug. 31 in Toronto.
Flaherty also said that the economy is “sound and sustainable.”
McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, said today it will spend C$1 billion to refurbish the majority of its 1,400 Canadian locations. Work will be done on “more than half” of the restaurants by year-end and most of the rest by the end of 2012, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said.
“I’m not so sure,” a rate cut is needed, Suncor Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rick George said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York “Rates are pretty low right now. We in the west, particularly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, are facing inflation.”
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