As was universally anticipated, the Bank of Canada opted to hold its target overnight rate at 1 per cent this morning. Ongoing uncertainty in the Euro-zone continues to weigh heavily on the Bank's outlook. In its statement accompanying the interest rate decision, it was noted that the bank is now projecting a contained Euro-crisis, but also a brief recession in the Euro-area due to ongoing deleveraging and fiscal austerity. The Bank also expects continued weakness, but no recession, in the United States through the first half of 2012 before a resumption of stronger growth. Given various challenges in the global economy, the Bank of Canada trimmed its outlook for Canadian economic growth to 2.1 per cent in 2011, 1.9 per cent in 2012 and 2.9 per cent in 2013 which is in line with our own forecast. On inflation, the Bank now expects slack in the economy to persist longer than originally forecast, leading to a closing of the output gap at the end of 2013. This implies softer than expected inflation in coming quarters, with consumer price growth moderating before returning to the Bank's 2 per cent target by the end of 2013.
Overall, this morning's statement shows a very cautious Bank of Canada that is unlikely to make any significant movements on interest rates over the next two to three quarters. Further monetary tightening will be highly contingent on a brighter growth outlook in the United States and a credible solution to the Euro sovereign debt crisis. Therefore we expect the Bank of Canada to remain on the sidelines through the end of 2011 and the first half of 2012.
BCREA, Chief Economist