Carney keeps overnight rate unchanged

For the 13th consecutive time and since September 2010, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has decided to keep the benchmark target for the overnight rate unchanged at 1%.

Even though he kept the rate the same, he did say that the outlook has improved for the Canadian economy hinting that interest rates will rise sooner rather than later.

“Some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate,” the bank said Tuesday.

The Bank of Canada now expects the economy to grow by 2.4% in 2011 and 2012, which is an increase from the previous 2.0% forecast. That stronger growth forecast is where the governor was hinting that an increase is likely looming in the near future, with some analysts expecting an increase mid to late summer. The strong growth is a recipe for inflation, something the bank needs to keep in the range of between 2 to 3%.

The bank did say that personal debt loads remain the biggest domestic risk to Canada’s economy, a sign that the bank is expecting rates to rise and that Canadians need to get their finances in order and to be prepared for the eventual interest rate increases.

Here in Alberta, a sense of calm confidence has risen in our employment market once again. There is a lot of overtime available out there padding the pockets of Albertans, and they are out in droves buying in what seems to be a regular spring market. The past few years the spring markets were spotty and heated for short periods of time based on government mortgage rule changes, but now it’s a fast steady pace as consumers in Alberta feel more confident in their future employment status.

According to Alberta Finance and Enterprise, our population has grown 2% and was estimated at 3,817,980. Migration to Alberta means more people to stimulate our housing economy which is evident in the housing starts whereas 35,500 new housing starts were reported in March — a 10.6% increase over last year.

While our Bank of Canada governor tries to balance the Canadian economy by keeping interest rates low right now, Alberta is growing at a pace that is making his decisions more difficult. While we have labor and population growth along with strong oil prices our consumer is feeling very confident creating demand for new houses. So while he warns Canadians to take defensive action to pay down their debts for the inevitable rate increases, Albertans as usual are going against the grain, feeling confident and are out there buying houses but are being warned to keep their other debts low.

Jean-Guy Turcotte is an Accredited Mortgage Professional at Dominion Lending Centres-Regional Mortgage Group and can be contacted for appointments or questions at 403-343-1125 or emailed to