Bank of Canada has 'free option' to hike next week: National Bank
Another voice has been added to the chorus of calls for the Bank of Canada to raise rates next week.
National Bank of Canada is now anticipating a quarter-point increase on Wednesday, in a move that would push the central bank's main policy rate to 0.5 per cent. National was previously calling for liftoff to occur in March.
"With the economy at full employment and inflation surging, we feel that immediate policy tightening is appropriate even in the face of an Omicron surge," strategists Warren Lovely and Taylor Schleich told clients in a report published Wednesday.
The market has gradually been moving in the same direction as National, particularly after the latest inflation report showing Statistics Canada's consumer price index (CPI) rose in December at the fastest rate since September of 1991. Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada’s own Business Outlook Survey indicated two-thirds of business leaders expect inflation will exceed three per cent over the next two years.
"After taking receipt of this week’s red-hot Business Outlook Survey and CPI report, for the first time in the COVID era, markets and economists alike are giving the Bank a ‘free option’ to lift the policy rate," Lovely and Schleich wrote in their report.
As of Thursday morning, market data showed a 71 per cent probability of a rate hike on Wednesday. A week ago, that probability was sitting at 52 per cent.
The data also shows investors are pricing in at least five hikes this year, which mirrors National Bank's call for a 1.5 per cent benchmark overnight rate by the end of this year.