The Bank of Canada announced on July 15th, 2015 that it was lowering its trend-setting target overnight lending rate from 0.75 per cent to 0.50 per cent. The move follows another cut of the same size in January.
The Bank indicated that it expects the Canadian economy shrank modestly in the first half of the year but has begun to rebound and will gain steam. While its decision to lower interest rates is aimed at supporting business investment and exports, revisions to the Bank’s economic forecast also indicate that lower interest rates will also boost consumer spending and housing activity.
The Bank of Canada also pared back its inflation outlook due to a number of factors which are unlikely to reverse themselves in the near future. That means short-term interest rates are almost certain to remain on hold this year and over 2016.
Recall that when the Bank of Canada previously cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point in January, Canada’s largest private banks lowered their lending rates by less than that. The same will likely hold true this time around. Accordingly, the Bank of Canada’s most recent interest rate cut is unlikely to cause consumer borrowing and mortgage lending to catch fire, especially given the currently high level of household debt.
The bottom line has shifted from “lower for longer” to “even lower for even longer”. All other things being equal, this is even more supportive for the housing market.
As of July 15th, 2015, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.64 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on May 27th, and down 0.15 percentage points from one year ago.