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Bank of Canada officials split on when to start cutting interest rates

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem smiles during a news conference following a rate announcement, April 10, 2024 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem smiles during a news conference following a rate announcement, April 10, 2024 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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OTTAWA -

Members of the Bank of Canada's governing council were split on how long the central bank should wait before it starts cutting interest rates when they met earlier this month.

The central bank released its summary of deliberations detailing the governing council's discussions ahead of its decision to hold interest rates steady on April 10.

Some members felt the central bank should take its time before lowering rates, the summary said, given the Canadian economy's strong performance as well as ongoing inflationary risks.

Meanwhile, other members emphasized that inflation has slowed, and were concerned about keeping interest rates high for too long.

"Some members emphasized that, with the economy performing well, the risk had diminished that restrictive monetary policy would slow the economy more than necessary to return inflation to target," the summary said. "Others placed more emphasis on the progress made in bringing inflation down."

Despite those differences, the summary notes the governing council agreed to hold the key interest rate at five per cent for now and that when they come, rate cuts won't happen all at once.

"While there was a diversity of views about when conditions would likely warrant cutting the policy rate, they agreed that monetary policy easing would probably be gradual, given risks to the outlook and the slow path for returning inflation to target," the summary said.

Economists widely expect the Bank of Canada to begin lowering its policy rate in June or July.

The Bank of Canada has been encouraged to see a significant slowdown in inflation, including in underlying price pressures.

Canada's inflation rate was 2.9 per cent in March, within the central bank's one to three per cent target range. Core measures of inflation, which strip out volatile price movements, have also eased over the last few months.

In a news conference on April 10, governor Tiff Macklem said an interest-rate cut in June was "within the realm of possibilities."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

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