For the first time since January, the Bank of Canada (BoC) has raised interest rates. Wednesday's 0.25% increase brings the policy rate to 4.75%, its highest level in more than two decades.
Although economists differed on what would transpire at the BoC's June announcement -- Scotiabank correctly predicted the 25-basis-point hike, while Desjardins anticipated the pause would persist -- major financial institutions have already formed a consensus for the bank's July meeting.
Conceding that Wednesday's announcement was "essentially a coin flip," Randall Bartlett, Senior Director of Canadian Economics at Desjardins, said he expects there to be yet another 25-bp increase next month as inflation remains sticky.
Although it slowed for several consecutive months, Canada's annual inflation rate hit 4.4% in April, up from 4.3% in March, and well above the BoC's 2% target.
"The Bank of Canada may not be done yet, as there is little evidence the economic indicators the bank is monitoring are meaningfully losing momentum," Bartlett wrote in an economic update.
The prediction of a subsequent 25-bp rate hike in July, as well as the surprise of Wednesday's announcement, was shared by James Orlando, CFA, Director and Senior Economist at TD.
With "robust" employment gains and inflationary wage increases allowing Canadians to keep spending in spite of high interest rates, and a "massive resurgence" in the real estate market brought on by the temporary pause in rate hikes, the BoC is "back in hiking mode," Orlando wrote in an economic report.
Derek Holt, Vice President and Head of Capital Markets Economics at Scotiabank, likewise believes the door is "wide open" for another 25-bps increase next month, although it will be a "data dependent call." The onus is on said data to "soften broadly" over the next five weeks in order to prevent another rate hike, said Josh Nye, a Senior Economist at RBC.
While he stopped short of offering a tightening bias, Nye noted RBC's "expectation has been that if the BoC was coming off the sidelines, they would intend to hike more than once — if 4.50% wasn’t restrictive enough it’s hard to think 4.75% is."
The BoC's next policy interest rate decision is scheduled for July 12, at which point the Monetary Policy Report will be released as well.