Breaking: BoC holds interest rate at 5% as forecast


The Bank of Canada (BoC) opted to maintain its key interest rate at 5% on Wednesday, for the third consecutive decision, as widely expected. According to the BoC the latest data “suggest the economy is no longer in excess demand". The tone of the statement hints at no rate hikes ahead. 

The BoC said it remains concerned about inflation risks but refrains from explicitly mentioning that the risks are increasing. They point out that higher rates are restraining spending, and the labour market continues to ease. 

There won't be a post-meeting press conference. The Monetary Policy Report will be delivered at the next Bank of Canada (BoC) meeting on January 24, 2024. On Thursday,  Deputy Governor Toni Gravelle, will speak at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, the first comments following the December BoC meeting. 

BoC policy statement highlights:

The Bank of Canada today held its target for the overnight rate at 5%, with the Bank Rate at 5¼% and the deposit rate at 5%. The Bank is continuing its policy of quantitative tightening.

Higher interest rates are clearly restraining spending: consumption growth in the last two quarters was close to zero, and business investment has been volatile but essentially flat over the past year.

The labour market continues to ease: job creation has been slower than labour force growth, job vacancies have declined further, and the unemployment rate has risen modestly. Even so, wages are still rising by 4-5%.

Data and indicators for the fourth quarter suggest the economy is no longer in excess demand.

The slowdown in the economy is reducing inflationary pressures in a broadening range of goods and services prices. 

With further signs that monetary policy is moderating spending and relieving price pressures, Governing Council decided to hold the policy rate at 5% and to continue to normalize the Bank’s balance sheet.

Governing Council is still concerned about risks to the outlook for inflation and remains prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed. 

Governing Council wants to see further and sustained easing in core inflation, and continues to focus on the balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth, and corporate pricing behaviour. 

Market reaction to BoC rate decision 

The Canadian Dollar (CAD) remained steady after the BoC decision. The USD/CAD continued to trade around 1.3565, in negative territory for the day. 

Canadian Dollar price today

The table below shows the percentage change of Canadian Dollar (CAD) against listed major currencies today. Canadian Dollar was the strongest against the US Dollar.

USD   -0.01% -0.03% -0.19% -0.50% -0.04% -0.53% -0.16%
EUR 0.01%   -0.01% -0.19% -0.48% -0.02% -0.51% -0.15%
GBP 0.01% 0.00%   -0.19% -0.50% -0.04% -0.54% -0.15%
CAD 0.20% 0.20% 0.18%   -0.29% 0.18% -0.31% 0.03%
AUD 0.48% 0.48% 0.47% 0.29%   0.44% -0.04% 0.34%
JPY 0.03% 0.03% 0.00% -0.18% -0.50%   -0.50% -0.14%
NZD 0.53% 0.51% 0.53% 0.31% 0.03% 0.49%   0.36%
CHF 0.13% 0.14% 0.15% -0.04% -0.32% 0.12% -0.36%  

The heat map shows percentage changes of major currencies against each other. The base currency is picked from the left column, while the quote currency is picked from the top row. For example, if you pick the Euro from the left column and move along the horizontal line to the Japanese Yen, the percentage change displayed in the box will represent EUR (base)/JPY (quote).


Economic Indicator

Canada BoC Interest Rate Decision

The Bank of Canada (BoC) announces its interest rate decision at the end of its eight scheduled meetings per year. If the BoC believes inflation will be above target (hawkish), it will raise interest rates in order to bring it down. This is bullish for the CAD since higher interest rates attract greater inflows of foreign capital. Likewise, if the BoC sees inflation falling below target (dovish) it will lower interest rates in order to give the Canadian economy a boost in the hope inflation will rise back up. This is bearish for CAD since it detracts from foreign capital flowing into the country.

Read more.

Next release: 01/24/2024 15:00:00 GMT

Frequency: Irregular

Source: Bank of Canada

This section below was published as a preview of the Bank of Canada's interest rate decision at 09:00 GMT.

  • Canadian central bank is forecast to leave the key interest rate unchanged at 5.0% on Wednesday.
  • Bank of Canada policymakers are expected to offer little changes to the guidance.
  • BoC policy statement could ramp up volatility around the Canadian Dollar.

The Bank of Canada (BoC) is widely expected to leave its policy rate unchanged at 5% for the third consecutive time on Wednesday when it concludes the December policy meeting. The Canadian Dollar (CAD) has been steadily rising against the US Dollar (USD) after USD/CAD broke below 1.3650 two weeks ago, driven by a weaker Greenback across the board. During the current week, the pair rebounded from two months lows below 1.3500, rising to 1.3560.

At the final meeting for 2023, economists expect no changes from the BoC. Canada's economy has had a mixed performance since October. During the third quarter, economic activity contracted, but the central bank anticipates a recovery in the current quarter. Inflation in Canada remains above the 2% target but is moving closer to it. In October, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 3.1% compared to the same month last year.

Bank of Canada interest rate expectations: No change, no victory 

"Inflationary risks have increased since July; inflation is on a higher path than we expected," said Tiff Macklem, Governor of the Bank of Canada, following the October meeting. He further stated that the decision to keep interest rates unchanged aimed to allow monetary policy sufficient time to moderate the economy and alleviate price pressures. Achieving that objective is not yet complete. 

Even if inflation reaches the BoC target, it would still require data to indicate that it will remain at that level or below on a sustained basis. However, there is still a long way to go for that scenario to unfold and for the data to reflect it. No “mission accomplished” is likely in the short term. Governor Macklem has stated that it is not the appropriate time to discuss interest rate cuts. This stance will likely continue, and any potential change in that position would only occur early in 2024 if the economy experiences a significant contraction and the labor market data raises concerns.

In October, the BoC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged at 5% for the second time. They reiterated their preparedness to hike rates further if necessary, expressing concerns about the persistence of underlying inflationary pressures. This hawkish bias is expected to prevail, with little room for a dovish surprise. 

A softer tone from the BoC is the only possible surprise, but it is improbable. The central bank's credibility is crucial, and they are expected to maintain a firm stance on inflation until they are convinced that it has returned to the target on a permanent basis. 

A rate hike from the BoC would also be a surprise since no analysts are currently predicting such a move. Labor market data from Canada released on Friday indicated that employment increased by 25,000 in November, surpassing expectations. However, the Unemployment Rate ticked higher to 5.8%. Full-time jobs primarily drove the positive change in employment, and wages (permanent employees) rose more than anticipated, with a 5% increase compared to the previous year. This data aligns with Macklem's statement in October, highlighting that the “Canadian labor market remains tight and wage pressures persist.” Nonetheless, the report was not a game-changer regarding monetary policy expectations.

A press conference won’t follow the last meeting in 2023, so it is more unlikely for the central bank to change its tone. Hence, the impact on markets is expected to be limited. The current debate in the market regarding interest rates revolves around when the central bank will begin cutting rates in 2024. Therefore, until the BoC offers new perspectives instead of maintaining a “hawkish hold”, the most significant inputs for the markets will continue to be economic data regarding inflation, labor market conditions, and growth.

“To return to low inflation and stable growth in the years ahead, we need these higher interest rates and slow growth in the short term. Our inflation target, our track record and our forceful response will get us through to the other side. We’re well on our way, and we need to stay the course,” Governor Macklem warned Canadians in a speech late in November. 

When will the BoC release its monetary policy decision and how could it affect USD/CAD?

The Bank of Canada will announce its policy decision at 15:00 GMT on December 6 through a press release, which will briefly explain the decision. There won’t be a press conference, nor will the quarterly Monetary Policy Report (MPR) be released. The next MPR is scheduled for the next meeting on January 24, 2024.

The impact on the Loonie is expected to be limited. A hawkish hold could reinforce the current downtrend bias in USD/CAD. However, it should be considered that much of the recent decline has been driven by the dynamics of the USD. An even more hawkish tone should boost the Canadian Dollar across the board and potentially expose the recent lows in USD/CAD. The 200-day Simple Moving Average (SMA) at 1.3510 serves as the last defense before a more significant decline, initially targeting September lows at 1.3370 and then a medium-term support level at 1.3300.

An unexpected softer tone from the Bank of Canada would likely weaken the Canadian Dollar, potentially pushing USD/CAD to break above 1.3600 and challenge the 1.3650 area, followed by 1.3665 (confluence of the 20-day and 55-day SMAs). Above that level, the short-term negative bias would be negated.

On Friday, USD/CAD recorded its first weekly close below the 20-week SMA since August. The line currently stands at 1.3590, and another close below it would indicate a consolidation of the bearish momentum.


Canadian Dollar FAQs

What key factors drive the Canadian Dollar?

The key factors driving the Canadian Dollar (CAD) are the level of interest rates set by the Bank of Canada (BoC), the price of Oil, Canada’s largest export, the health of its economy, inflation and the Trade Balance, which is the difference between the value of Canada’s exports versus its imports. Other factors include market sentiment – whether investors are taking on more risky assets (risk-on) or seeking safe-havens (risk-off) – with risk-on being CAD-positive. As its largest trading partner, the health of the US economy is also a key factor influencing the Canadian Dollar.

How do the decisions of the Bank of Canada impact the Canadian Dollar?

The Bank of Canada (BoC) has a significant influence on the Canadian Dollar by setting the level of interest rates that banks can lend to one another. This influences the level of interest rates for everyone. The main goal of the BoC is to maintain inflation at 1-3% by adjusting interest rates up or down. Relatively higher interest rates tend to be positive for the CAD. The Bank of Canada can also use quantitative easing and tightening to influence credit conditions, with the former CAD-negative and the latter CAD-positive.

How does the price of Oil impact the Canadian Dollar?

The price of Oil is a key factor impacting the value of the Canadian Dollar. Petroleum is Canada’s biggest export, so Oil price tends to have an immediate impact on the CAD value. Generally, if Oil price rises CAD also goes up, as aggregate demand for the currency increases. The opposite is the case if the price of Oil falls. Higher Oil prices also tend to result in a greater likelihood of a positive Trade Balance, which is also supportive of the CAD.

How does inflation data impact the value of the Canadian Dollar?

While inflation had always traditionally been thought of as a negative factor for a currency since it lowers the value of money, the opposite has actually been the case in modern times with the relaxation of cross-border capital controls. Higher inflation tends to lead central banks to put up interest rates which attracts more capital inflows from global investors seeking a lucrative place to keep their money. This increases demand for the local currency, which in Canada’s case is the Canadian Dollar.

How does economic data influence the value of the Canadian Dollar?

Macroeconomic data releases gauge the health of the economy and can have an impact on the Canadian Dollar. Indicators such as GDP, Manufacturing and Services PMIs, employment, and consumer sentiment surveys can all influence the direction of the CAD. A strong economy is good for the Canadian Dollar. Not only does it attract more foreign investment but it may encourage the Bank of Canada to put up interest rates, leading to a stronger currency. If economic data is weak, however, the CAD is likely to fall.

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