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Bank of Canada interest rate cut: At least 1 bank won't lend for less

01/22/2015 01:29 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Canadians have been left wondering whether they'll enjoy lower rates on mortgages and other loans in the aftermath of a surprise interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada on Wednesday,

Canada's five biggest banks are deciding whether to cut their prime lending rate, which affects the interest on some mortgages, lines of credit and other financial products.

Already, TD Bank has decided not to cut its prime rate, at least not for now.

"Our decision not to change our prime rate at this time was carefully considered and is based on a number of factors, with the Bank of Canada's overnight rate only being one of them," said Alicia Johnston, a spokewoman for TD, in a statement sent to CBC News.

Royal Bank of Canada has not yet announced a decision on whether its rate will change.

"While we don't have any product announcements to make at this time, we are considering the impact of yesterday's Bank of Canada decision," said RBC spokesperson Ka Yan Ng.

Scotiabank is also still weighing its options.

"No decision has been made on a prime rate cut," Scotiabank's Sean Hamilton told CBC News.

As of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce had not responded to requests for comment from CBC News.

Overnight rate and prime rate: How they work

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada cut its target for the overnight lending rate from an already low one per cent to 0.75 per cent, in light of the risk posed to the Canadian economy by slumping oil prices.

The overnight rate is the interest percentage paid by banks and other institutions to lend money to each other, which they do on a daily basis.

The Bank of Canada sets a target for the overnight rate eight times per year as a means of influencing monetary policy.

A bank's prime lending rate is set at a given percentage above the overnight rate. TD Bank's prime lending rate, for example, has been set at three per cent since September 9, 2010, one day after the Bank of Canada raised its overnight lending rate by 0.25 per cent to one per cent. 

Until Wednesday, the Bank of Canada held that rate steady for 34 consecutive decisions. Currently, all five of Canada's biggest banks have set their prime lending rate at three per cent.

Historically, the large Canadian banks have adjusted their prime lending rates in tandem, tracking the Bank of Canada's overnight rate.

Since 2000, prime lending rates have moved in lockstep with the Bank of Canada's overnight rate, with one exception — in October 2008, the Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent. Canada's five biggest banks only trimmed their prime lending rates by 0.25 per cent.

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