Bank of Canada raises key rate for second time this year
A Canadian dollar at 83 cents U.S. is now a real possibility as the country’s central bank adopts a seemingly “care-free stance” on the soaring loonie.
Once branded a bank with an agenda to weaken the currency to support exports, the Bank of Canada’s rate increase on Wednesday pushed the loonie up more than a full cent against the greenback.
And a consensus is forming among Bay Street economists that the stage is now set for another rate bump this year.
“Given today’s abrupt hike, with no prior communication since the previous meeting, and the bank’s seeming care-free stance on the soaring Canadian dollar, we can’t rule out anything in coming meetings,” BMO Capital Markets Chief Economist Doug Porter wrote in a note to clients.
“The somewhat aggressive hike and the upbeat view on growth point to more tightening than we previously expected over the next year.”
Heading into Wednesday’s announcement, rate hike expectations amounted to a coin toss. There was no Monetary Policy Report or news conference to explain a move higher. Still, that hasn’t stopped the bank in the past and the economy has been running hot.
“The Bank of Canada feels it is behind,” Frances Donald, senior economist at Manulife Asset Management, wrote in a tweet.
Among Donald’s key takeaways from the bank’s decision: the Canadian dollar can get to 83 cents U.S.
The bank, for its part, did make mention of the soaring loonie – pointing to the weaker U.S. dollar and the strengthening Canadian economy.
“[The BOC] is mindful of the currency’s recent strength, but not overly concerned as yet,” Derek Holt, vice-president and head of Capital Market Economics at Scotiabank, wrote in a note to clients.
On several occasions, CIBC Capital Markets Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal has told BNN that Governor Stephen Poloz had an agenda to weaken the currency in favour of trade.
On Wednesday, Tal called the “speed of this change of heart” at the bank “unprecedented.”
That said, Tal told BNN via email he is “not absolutely sure that they totally abandoned the dollar issue.”“If the Fed does not move in December. I doubt the [Bank of Canada] will move, probably pointing to the dollar,” Tal noted, while adding Wednesday’s rate decision suggests “new and fresh thinking” at the bank, “which I think is a positive development.”