The Bank of Canada held its key interest rate steady at five per cent, but hasn’t ruled out future rate hikes as price pressures remain high.

“With clearer signs that monetary policy is moderating spending and relieving price pressures, governing council decided to hold the policy rate at five per cent,” said the Bank of Canada in a news release on Wednesday. “However, governing council is concerned that progress toward price stability is slow and inflationary risks have increased and is prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed.”

The Bank of Canada was widely expected to hold its key rate steady again as economic data suggests high interest rates are having their intended cooling effect on the economy.

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Consumers and businesses are facing the highest interest rates in decades, leading to a pullback in spending. In addition to the signs of slowing growth, inflation resumed its decline in September, with the annual rate falling to 3.8 per cent.

The Bank of Canada also published its quarterly monetary policy report, which includes new economic forecasts that suggest slower economic growth and higher inflation in the short run. The central bank expects real gross domestic product to grow 1.2 per cent in 2023, down from 1.8 per cent in its previous forecast. Meanwhile, it expects growth to come in weaker in 2024, with real GDP rising by 0.9 per cent. Growth is expected to rebound to 2.5 per cent in 2025.

Inflation is still expected to return to the two per cent target in 2025, however, the central bank says it expects inflation to be higher in the short term. The Bank of Canada projects inflation will average about 3.5 per cent through the middle of 2024.

The report outlines some risks surrounding its forecasts, including the war between Israel and Hamas. With oil prices right now higher than previously expected, the central bank says an escalation of the war into a broader regional conflict could disrupt global oil supplies.

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