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  • Writer's pictureJose Gustavo Salcedo

June Rate Cut Still a "Close Call" Despite Lower Inflation in April

June Rate Cut Still a "Close Call" Despite Lower Inflation in April

In April, Canada's inflation rate continued to ease, leaving the possibility of a Bank of Canada rate cut next month. However, with inflation still at the upper limit of the Bank’s neutral range, the likelihood of a June rate cut remains uncertain, standing at about 50-50.

Key Inflation Figures

Statistics Canada reported that the annualized Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI) slowed to 2.7% in April, down from 2.9% in March, aligning with expectations. This slowdown was largely due to a deceleration in food prices, services, and durable goods.

The Bank of Canada’s preferred measures of core inflation, which exclude food and energy prices, also eased:

  • CPI-median slowed to 2.6% (from 3.1% in March)

  • CPI-trim fell to 2.9% (from 3.2%)

On a three-month annualized basis, these core measures did pick up slightly, rising 0.2 percentage points in April, according to economists from Desjardins.

rising 0.2 percentage points

Other Measures of Inflation

The Bank of Canada’s former preferred measure of inflation, CPI-X—which some economists believe is a better measure of core inflation—was flat in April, resulting in an annualized rate of just 1.6%.

Douglas Porter, BMO’s chief economist, noted, “All of these yearly measures of core are at lows not seen since mid-2021, or when rates were still at the floor and hikes weren’t even being pondered yet.”

Shelter Costs and Inflation

Shelter costs continue to be the main driver of inflation. However, their pace also eased in April:

  • Annualized rate slowed to 6.4% (from 6.5% in March)

  • Rent inflation slowed to 8.2% (from 8.5%)

  • Mortgage interest cost eased slightly to 24.5% (from 25.4%)

The June Rate Cut: A Coin Toss

With four consecutive “tame” inflation reports, many experts believe the Bank of Canada could safely begin easing its benchmark interest rate at its upcoming meeting on June 5.

“There is really no debate that monetary policy is tight in Canada, and that it is now consistently weighing on underlying inflation,” said Porter. “The key question for the BoC is whether inflation has tamed sufficiently to now start reducing the degree of restrictiveness.”

Porter asserts that the “door is open” for a rate cut in June, but it remains a “close call.” Leslie Preston at TD Economics agrees, saying that while the preferred inflation gauges moved into the 1-3% target range for the first time in nearly three years, “at 2.8% it is still close to the top of the BoC’s range.”

“We expect the bank will want to see a bit more confirmation before taking rates lower and lean towards a July cut,” she added.

Market Expectations

Currently, bond markets are pricing in roughly 53% odds of a 25-bps cut next month, up slightly from before the inflation data release. The odds of a quarter-point rate cut in July are around 72%.

Adapted by Jose Gustavo

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