Ottawa: The Bank of Canada has increased its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.5 per cent.
The bank’s governing council expects to hold the policy rate at its current level while it assesses the impact of the cumulative interest rate increases, reports Xinhua news agency citing an official statement issued on Wednesday.
The bank conducted eight consecutive interest rate hikes since March 2022 and added 425 basis points in total to tackle inflation.
The country’s inflation declined from 8.1 per cent in June to 6.3 per cent in December, reflecting lower petrol prices and, more recently, moderating prices for durable goods, the Bank of Canada said, adding that despite this progress, Canadians are still feeling the hardship of high inflation in their essential household expenses, with persistent price increases for food and shelter.
According to the bank, short-term inflation expectations remain elevated.
Year-over-year measures of core inflation are still around 5 per cent, but three-month measures of core inflation have come down, suggesting that core inflation has peaked.
Inflation is projected to come down significantly this year.
Lower energy prices, improvements in global supply conditions, and the effects of higher interest rates on demand are expected to bring CPI inflation down to around 3 per cent in the middle of this year and back to the 2 per cent target in 2024, the bank said.
There is growing evidence that restrictive monetary policy is slowing activity, especially household spending.
Consumption growth has moderated from the first half of 2022 and housing market activity has declined substantially. As the effects of interest rate increases continue to work through the economy, spending on consumer services and business investment are expected to slow.
Meanwhile, weaker foreign demand will likely weigh on exports. This overall slowdown in activity will allow supply to catch up with demand, the bank said.
The Bank of Canada estimated that Canada’s economy grew by 3.6 per cent in 2022, and expected its GDP to grow about 1 per cent in 2023 and about 2 per cent in 2024.
Ongoing program of quantitative tightening continues and is complementing the restrictive stance of the policy rate, it added.