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Breaking: Bank of Canada holds interest rate

Bank of Canada maintains its key interest rate at 1.75 per cent

The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 ¾ per cent.

The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 ½ per cent.

The drop in global oil prices has a material impact on the Canadian outlook, resulting in lower terms of trade and national income. As well, transportation constraints and rising production have combined to push up oil inventories in the west and exert even more downward pressure on Canadian benchmark prices. While price differentials have narrowed in recent weeks following announced mandatory production cuts in Alberta, investment in Canada’s oil sector is projected to weaken further.

These developments are occurring in the context of a Canadian economy that has been performing well overall. Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low. Looking ahead, exports and non-energy investment are projected to grow solidly, supported by foreign demand, the CUSMA, the lower Canadian dollar, and federal tax measures targeted at investment.

Meanwhile, consumption spending and housing investment have been weaker than expected as housing markets adjust to municipal and provincial measures, changes to mortgage guidelines, and higher interest rates. Household spending will be dampened further by slow growth in oil-producing provinces. The Bank will continue to monitor these adjustments.

The Bank projects real GDP will grow by 1.7 per cent in 2019, 0.4 percentage points slower than the October outlook. This revised forecast reflects a temporary slowing in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. This will open up a modest amount of excess capacity, primarily in oil-producing regions. Nevertheless, indicators of demand should start to show renewed momentum in early 2019, leading to above-potential growth of 2.1 per cent in 2020.

Weighing all of these factors, Governing Council continues to judge that the policy interest rate will need to rise over time into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target. The appropriate pace of rate increases will depend on how the outlook evolves, with a particular focus on developments in oil markets, the Canadian housing market, and global trade policy.