Watt cited moderate job growth, lacklustre non-energy export growth, ongoing trade policy uncertainty, subdued capital expenditures and signs households are being squeezed by past rate increases and high gasoline prices as reasons the central bank would keep its rate unchanged.
As for the interpretation of "gradual", Ambler said it means the BoC is on a path of moving toward the neutral rate, which it estimated to be between 2.5 and 3.5 percent, by hiking three to four times a year at most (0.75 to 1 percent per year).
Observers noted the tone of the BoC's statement was more hawkish than previous announcements, including its omission of the line "some monetary policy accommodation will still be needed to keep inflation on target" and the word "cautious" in reference to future policy announcements.
Policymakers meanwhile will continue to "assess the economy's sensitivity to interest rate movements". The Bank of Canada is carefully monitoring this vulnerability as rates rise and debt-service costs increase.
Watch: Why strong economies spell bad news for Canadian mortgage rates. Bets that it will hike rates again in July were at 64.7 percent after the data.
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National Bank of Canada similarly concluded that the statement "kicked wide open the door for a July rate hike". But Bank of Nova Scotia economist Derek Holt said the latest statement suggests the central bank has more confidence in its forecast of a strengthening economy and that it is "not making a mistake by tightening monetary policy". "Going forward, solid labour income growth supports the expectation that housing activity will pick up and consumption will continue to contribute importantly to growth in 2018".
That's amid NAFTA negotiations and disappointing housing market data.
For new homebuyers, however, variable rates are still available at a discount (prime - 1.00%) as part of the big banks' variable rate war that began earlier this month.
Here's the statement from the Bank of Canada on its rate decision for Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight rate three times since last June, each time by a quarter of a percentage point. But it has been on hold amid uncertainty about the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and concern about how indebted consumers will handle higher rates. At the same time, it said global economic activity remained "broadly on track" with expectations. Under its mandate, the central bank uses interest rates as a tool to keep inflation near 2 per cent, pushing rates higher when prices exceed that threshold. "Core measures of inflation remain near 2 per cent, consistent with an economy operating close to potential".