Canadian Interest Rate Forecast


Economists are paid handsomely to tell us where interest rates are headed.  They have access to every data source, academic study, historical backtest, and analysis tool imaginable. So if you’re creating amortization models based on future rate forecasts, the estimates of bank economists can be a useful guide.

Below you’ll find a summary of the latest year-end interest rate projections from each of Canada’s Big 5 banks. Remember to use them only as a rough guide because rate outlooks have considerable margins of error.

Overnight Rate Forecast

The Bank of Canada’s overnight target has a direct impact on variable mortgage rates.

Bank 2010 2011
BMO 1.00 2.50
CIBC 1.00 2.00
RBC 1.25 2.75
Scotia 1.00 2.25
TD 1.00 2.00
Year-end Avg 1.00 2.25
Chg vs Today +0.25 +1.50

(All figures rounded to the nearest 1/4 point increment.)

5-Year Government Bond Yield Forecast

Government bond yields are major drivers of fixed mortgage rates.

Bank 2010 2011
BMO 2.45 3.58
RBC 2.45 3.50
Scotia 2.70 3.50
TD 2.40 3.05
Year-end Avg 2.50 3.41
Chg vs Today +0.36 +1.27

(CIBC’s 5-year bond forecast was not available.)

Variable-Rate Mortgage Forecast

Big bank economists have chopped their rate-hike forecasts again.  TD made the biggest adjustment earlier today. It slashed its 2011 year-end overnight rate estimate by one whole percentage point.  This underlines how dramatically expectations can change in just a few short months.

On average, major economists now expect a 150 basis point increase in the overnight rate over the next 16 months.  Their outlooks, if accurate, imply a 4.25% prime rate by December 31, 2011. Prime rate is currently 2.75%.

Based on a 70 basis point average discount from prime, this suggests 5-year variable rates in the 3.55% range by year-end 2011.  That’s lower than today’s typical discounted 5-year fixed rate.

As for the next rate hike, the signals are mixed. Canadian bond dealers are all expecting a 1/4 point increase at the Bank of Canada’s September 8 rate meeting. The financial markets, however, are pricing in just a 30% probability of a hike.

After the next rate increase, most analysts now seem to expect the BoC to pause for a while.  “The coming policy pause could now easily last a year,” says BMO.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage Forecast

Banks foresee 5-year bond yields climbing 127 basis points in the same 16-month timeframe.  That would put the 5-year yield at 3.41% by the end of next year.

Assuming a typical 120 basis point spread above yields, this suggests deep-discounted 5-year fixed rates could rise to roughly 4.61% by year-end 2011.

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Things To Note: These forecasts are made by the banks and are subject to frequent change. This data is provided only for general interest.  Always discuss your needs and risk tolerance with a mortgage professional before acting on any information you read online. History has shown that it’s near impossible to accurately predict interest rates long-term so use these figures at your own risk. That said, while economist projections are often wrong, they are still one of the better sources of educated opinion on interest rates.

“Chg” = The expected change in rates from today. In other words, Chg is the average forecast minus today’s rates. All forecasts are based on the respective year-end.

Not all contributors have published updates since CMT’s last rate forecast review. For banks providing mean quarterly overnight rate forecasts, we have averaged their Q4 and Q1 forecasts to estimate year-end figures for 2010 and 2011. Results are rounded to the nearest 1/4 point, in keeping with the Bank of Canada’s rate setting increments.

Data Sources: BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank, TD

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends

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