Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks at a press conference after releasing the June issue of the Financial System Review in Ottawa on Thursday, June 7, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle)

Bank of Canada hikes interest rate to 1.75%

The central bank’s decision comes as the economy stays strong, trade uncertainty recedes

The Bank of Canada is raising its trend-setting interest rate as the resilient economy hums along and a big source of trade uncertainty is finally out of the way.

In making the decision Wednesday, the central bank also sent a signal that suggests it will take a more aggressive approach to future hikes than previously expected.

The central bank delivered a quarter-point rate increase for the fifth time since the summer of 2017 — and first time since July — to bring the benchmark to 1.75 per cent. The rate is now higher than it’s been in about a decade.

It was the central bank’s first policy decision since Canada agreed with the United States and Mexico earlier this month on an updated North American free trade deal.

“The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will reduce trade policy uncertainty in North America, which has been an important curb on business confidence and investment,” the bank said in a statement Wednesday.

“The Canadian economy continues to operate close to its potential and the composition of growth is more balanced.”

READ MORE: Higher interest rates to hit younger, middle-income households

The removal of one of the trade-uncertainty shackles also coincided with a notable change in the wording of the statement Wednesday, compared with other recent news releases from the bank.

This time around, the bank omitted the word “gradual” from its explanation on how it will approach future rate increases, a change that could lead some observers to anticipate future hikes will come faster than the market had previously expected.

Looking ahead, the bank indicated more increases will be needed to bring the rate to a “neutral stance” in order to keep inflation from rising too far above the two per cent mid-point of its target range. Governor Stephen Poloz’s team has pegged the neutral rate at between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent, so several more increases are likely on the way.

The statement, however, noted the pace of future increases will continue to be guided by how well households are digesting the higher interest rates, given their high levels of debt.

So far, the bank said Canadians have been making spending adjustments in response to earlier rate hikes and stricter mortgage policies — and credit growth continues to moderate.

“As a result, household vulnerabilities are edging lower in a number of respects, although they remain elevated,” the statement said.

The bank still expects consumer spending to continue expanding at a “healthy pace,” thanks in large part to the steady rise of incomes and high consumer confidence.

Until the hike Wednesday, the interest rate hadn’t been above 1.5 per cent since December 2008. At that time, during the financial crisis, the bank made a three-quarter-point cut to the benchmark, bringing it to 1.5 per cent from 2.25 per cent.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate armed robbery

Wetaskiwin police seek identification of suspects

Chamber hears ‘13 Ways to kill commerce’

U of A’s Heather Thomson dispels small business myths

Amnesty International worried about Alberta’s publicity campaign

Meanwhile, critics of Vladimir Putin being murdered at alarming rate

Wetaskiwin Bantam Warriors thump St. Albert in season opener

Bantam team showing lots of potential in 46-27 win

Testing winter feed

Testing winter feed lets producers know what nutrients are available

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision with cyclist on Highway 2

32-year-old male cyclist from Red Deer was pronounced dead at the scene

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Outspoken Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger stepping down later this year

Imperial Oil is about 70 per cent owned by Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., since 2013

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Alberta spends $3M to hire 30 nurse practitioners for remote areas

Province has 600 nurse practitioners, but minister says most work in hospitals or outpatient clinics

Most Read