Bank of Canada Interest Rate Cut: 5 Ways Consumers May Be Affected
The Bank of Canada surprised financial markets bycutting its key interest rateby 0.25 per cent on Wednesday.
Here are five ways the central banks move will affectCanadian consumers:
1. Cheaper mortgages for some, but not all
This is good news if youre a variable-rate mortgage holder, said Penelope Graham, editor at RateSupermarket.ca.
Variable-rate mortgages are determinedby the prime interest rate, which is in turn linked tothe overnight interest rate the Bank of Canada just lowered.
It remains to be seen just how much [the banks] are going to cut the prime rate, but it will be cut, said Graham.
As of Thursday morning, none of the big banks had trimmed their prime rates.
TD Bank said Thursdayithad decided not to cut its prime rate, a decision that was carefully considered and is based on a number of factors, with the Bank of Canadas overnight rate only being one of them.Royal Bank of Canada said it is considering the impact of the central banks rate cut, but is not changing its mortgage products at this time. Scotiabank told CBC Newsit had not yet made a decision on whetherto cut its prime rate.
Our decision regarding our prime rate is impacted by factors beyond just the Bank of Canadas overnight rate, said MohammedNakhooda, a spokesman for TD Bank. Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit.
Holders of fixed-rate mortgages, of course, wont enjoy an immediate cut in monthly payments. Canadians taking out a new fixed-rate mortgage or renewing their old one right now could see rates edge down. Fixed mortgage rates are linked to long-term government bond yields. Those bondyields have already begun to fall in light of the Bank of Canadas interest rate cut.
Graham warned Canadian home buyers that what goes down, must come up.
When rates do eventually go up, when the economy recovers, [mortgageholders] are going to see their monthly debt servicing costs go up, said Graham. If they cant handle that, they could see themselves underwater on their mortgages.
2. Borrowing on lines of credit, credit cards
Like variable-ratemortgages, interest rates for lines of credit are generally tied to a banks prime interest rate, which is usuallytied to the Bank of Canadas overnight rate. That means Canadians borrowing money througha line of credit maysee their borrowing costs to come down,depending on whether their bank cuts its prime interest rate.
Canadians hoping for a break on their credit card bills, though, are out of luck.
Your credit card interest [rate] is actually a stated amount, explained Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Bank. So when the Bank of Canada cuts rates or raises rates it doesnt have an influence on them.
As with mortgages, Canadians shouldnt necessarily take further advantage of cheaper borrowing costs just because they can.
CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal sees a potential risk to the Canadian economy if Canadians start racking up even more debt.A credit-fuelled spending spree is something that the Bank of Canada would like to avoid, saidTal.
Our debt-to-income ratio, at 165 per cent, is relatively high, said Tal. Thats a risk that the Bank of Canada is taking.
3. The loonie flies south
The Canadian dollar fell dramatically against a variety of major currencies as soon as the Bank of Canada made its announcement, and that means Canadians immediately have lesspurchasing power abroad. Thats bad news for snowbirds with homesin the U.S., or any Canadian planning an international trip.
If Canadians are wondering when to transfer money to a foreign bank account, they can try to take advantage of short-term volatility inexchange rates, according toKarlSchamotta, director of foreign exchange research at CambridgeMercantile Group.
Typically exchange rates do not follow a nice linear trend, saidSchamotta.Theres certainly potential to harness any gains that might occur over the coming months, but at the same time its very important to look at that overall backdrop and understand that the Canadian dollar is likely to remain depressed for a long period of time.
How long could thelooniefly so low?Schamottasees a clue inthe Bank of Canadas own outlook, which says lower oil prices will have an unambiguously negative effect on the Canadian economy for 2015 and beyond.
What were looking at here is a relatively bearish outlook for interest rates and for growth in Canada for at least a one- to two-year period here, and that is likely to keep the Canadian dollar contained, saidSchamotta.
That negative outlook could turn more positive, addedSchamotta, if some kind of geopolitical shock causes oil prices to surge once again.
4. No immediate effect on auto loans
Auto loans tend to be fixed-rate, not variable-rate. That means the Bank of Canadas interest rate cut wont have an immediate effect on auto financing, according to Canadian Auto Dealers Association chief economist Michael Hatch.
I dont think that tomorrowautomotive consumers are going to wake up necessarily to easier or harder financing conditions, said Hatch. Its going to remain par for the course.
Still, Hatch didnt rule out cheaper auto financing in the near future.Its a very competitive [interest rate]environment out there.It could well happen in the next few months, going into the spring selling season.
5. A bad time for savers
If you enjoy interest generated from a traditional savings account, the Bank of Canadas move isbad news for those returns.
We saw when the Bank of Canada cut interest rates during the last recession that interest rates on savings accounts went down almost linearly with the decline in the Bank of Canada overnight rate, said Randall Bartlett, senior economist at TD Economics.
Theres not going to be a massive change, but at the same time ifyoure notearning much interest before, youre going to be earning less interest now, added Bartlett.
This could be a good time for savers to think about changing their strategy, said Bartlett.
As interest on things like savings accountsand government debt comes down, at the same time it does provide incentives for people to invest in other types of assets that have higherreturns, said Bartlett. Things like stocks, ETFs, mutual funds tend to benefit from rate cuts as businesses take advantage of cheaper credit to make investments that could improve their share prices down the line.
Weakness in Toronto and Vancouver after seasonal adjustment
In August the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.2% from the previous month. Removing normal seasonal patterns (seasonal adjustment), the index would have been virtually flat, following retreats in June and July. In other words, after seasonal adjustment, the downtrend of June and July did not turn around in August.
Individual market indexes were up in eight of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed. Seasonally adjusted, they would have been up in only four. The published (non-seasonally-adjusted) indexes were up strongly under any respect in Ottawa-Gatineau (1.4%), Hamilton (1.4%), Montreal (1.2%) and Quebec City (0.5%). However, gains in Toronto (0.3%), Edmonton (0.2%), Victoria (0.1%) and Winnipeg (0.1%) only reflected usual seasonal pressures. After seasonal adjustment, these indexes would have dropped or be flat. Indexes were down for Halifax (0.6%), Calgary (0.3%) and Vancouver (0.4%).
The published Toronto index was up for a fifth straight month. But it is the opposite after seasonal adjustment as the index would then have been down for a fifth straight month. For Vancouver and Victoria it was a third straight month of decline after seasonal adjustment.
In August the composite index was up 1.4% from a year earlier, the smallest 12-month rise since November 2009. This weakness is partly attributable to a peak in August 2017 from which the index declined in following months. For this reason the 12-month rise is likely to accelerate in the months ahead. August 2018 indexes were down from a year earlier in Toronto (3.3%), Hamilton (0.7%), Calgary (0.5%) and Edmonton (0.3%). They were up from a year earlier in Winnipeg (1.3%), Quebec City (1.4%), Halifax (4.6%), Montreal (4.8%), Victoria (5.0%), Ottawa-Gatineau (5.2%) and Vancouver (7.6%).
Besides the Toronto and Hamilton indexes included in the composite index, indexes exist for the seven other urban areas of the Golden Horseshoe. In July, two of these, Barrie and Oshawa, were, like Toronto and Hamilton, below their peaks of Q3 2017. Indexes not included in the composite index also exist for seven markets outside the Golden Horseshoe, five of them in Ontario and two in B.C. The 12-month rise of these indexes varied widely, from 1.5% for Sudbury to 14.3% for Abbotsford-Mission.
 Note on methodology: The current-month data used to calculate the index are those of closed sales entered in the provincial land registry. To illustrate the home price trend, the published indexes of the 11 metropolitan markets entering into the TeranetNational Bank Composite House Price Index present moving averages of the last three months of raw indexes, a procedure that evens out month-to-month fluctuations. For our full methodology, please visit www.housepriceindex.ca
Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1 ½ per cent
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent.
CPI inflation moved up to 3 per cent in July. This was higher than expected, in large part because of a jump in the airfare component of the consumer price index. The Bank expects CPI inflation to move back towards 2 per cent in early 2019, as the effects of past increases in gasoline prices dissipate. The Banks core measures of inflation remain firmly around 2 per cent, consistent with an economy that has been operating near capacity for some time. Wage growth remains moderate.
Recent data on the global economy have been consistent with the Banks July Monetary Policy Report (MPR) projections. The US economy is particularly robust, with strong consumer spending and business investment. Elevated trade tensions remain a key risk to the global outlook and are pulling some commodity prices lower. Meanwhile, financial stresses have intensified in certain emerging market economies, but with limited spillovers to other countries.
The Canadian economy is evolving closely in line with the Banks July projection for growth to average near potential. Following growth of 1.4 per cent in the first quarter, GDP rebounded by 2.9 per cent in the second quarter, as the Bank had forecast. GDP growth is expected to slow temporarily in the third quarter, mainly because of further fluctuations in energy production and exports.
While uncertainty about trade policies continues to weigh on businesses, the rotation of demand towards business investment and exports is proceeding. Despite choppiness in the data, both business investment and exports have been growing solidly for several quarters. Meanwhile, activity in the housing market is beginning to stabilize as households adjust to higher interest rates and changes in housing policies. Continuing gains in employment and labour income are helping to support consumption. As past interest rate increases work their way through the economy, credit growth has moderated and the household debt-to-income ratio is beginning to edge down.
Recent data reinforce Governing Councils assessment that higher interest rates will be warranted to achieve the inflation target. We will continue to take a gradual approach, guided by incoming data. In particular, the Bank continues to gauge the economys reaction to higher interest rates. The Bank is also monitoring closely the course of NAFTA negotiations and other trade policy developments, and their impact on the inflation outlook.
The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is October 24, 2018. The next full update of the Banks outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be published in the MPR at the same time.