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Cooling inflation reinforces a Bank of Canada rate pause next week

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Canada’s inflation rate slowed more than expected in October, coming in at 3.1% annually compared to expectations of 3.2%. The slowdown was due primarily to a 6% monthly decline in gasoline prices. Slowing inflation together with weakening GDP growth (Q3 is shaping up to be flat or slightly down) and a rising unemployment rate (up 0.7% in the past 6 months. It certainly looks at this point like the Bank of Canada is done hiking for the foreseeable future. Markets are now pricing in a Bank of Canada pause until April 2024.

Government bond yields are a major determinant of fixed mortgage pricing. The 5-year Government of Canada bond yield is reflecting the likelihood of rate cuts in 2024 and has fallen by roughly 50 basis points, or 0.5%, over the past six weeks. Meanwhile, fixed mortgage rates which are heavily influenced by bond yields have remained stubbornly high, with average deep discounted rates down by just 10 bps from the recent peak. We should expect rates to come down another 10-20 bps over the next couple weeks if bond yields hold here.

New mortgage originations continue to be more heavily oriented to shorter term fixed rate loans as many mortgage holders forecast lower rates in the short term. But we are seeing some signs that the popularity of variable rate loans is beginning to rise again, having grown from 5% of originations to closer to 10% in the past two months.

The Bank of Canada’s next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is December 6, 2023. The Bank will publish its next full outlook for the economy and inflation including risks to the projection, in the MPR (Monetary Policy Report) on January 24, 2024.

Sources: MPC, Bank of Canada

Karen Parrot
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