What will the Bank of Canada's Next Move Be?

The next rate setting by the Bank of Canada will be on March 6th and market watchers are not expecting any change.

Governor Stephen Poloz set a fairly dovish tone in his recent speech to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.  Poloz called the bank’s current rate of 1.75%, stimulative because it is still below the rate of inflation, which is running at about 2.0%.  And Poloz said the rate’s climb into the neutral range of 2.5% to 3.5% is “highly uncertain”.

A neutral policy rate is one which neither stimulates nor constrains the economy.

The central bank remains concerned about uncertainties that include the effects of higher interest rates on heavily indebted Canadians, stricter mortgage rules, how business investment proceeds in the current global trade environment and the current unexpected slump in the price of oil.

“We will remain decidedly data-dependent as the domestic and international situations evolve,” Poloz said.

Canada’s improving economy has allowed the BoC to raise rates five times since mid-2017, but there has been no movement since last October.

Many analysts now expect there will be no more than two, quarter-point increases in 2019, and then not until later in the year.  The bank has no compelling economic reasons to move on rates and the next federal budget will be delivered on March 19th, less than two weeks after the next setting date.  That alone would be enough to keep the bank from making any changes.

The campaign for the upcoming federal election, set for October 21st, will also hold the bank in check.