Big central banks hit pause, with rate cuts far off

LONDON (Reuters) – What comes after the pause? On Oct. 26, the European Central Bank snapped a 15-month streak of rate hikes by keeping borrowing costs on hold at a record high, echoing the recent actions of the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

The stage is now set for the world’s major rate setters to telegraph how long it will take them to declare their battle against inflation over and to start cutting rates, following the most aggressive monetary tightening cycle in decades.

So far, nine developed economies have raised rates by acombined 3,965 basis points (bps) in this cycle, starting September 2021. Japan is the holdout dove.

Here’s where central banks stand, from hawkish to dovish:


The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates on hold at 5.25%-5.50% at its upcoming meeting, but is viewed as unlikely to soften its hawkish bias.

On Oct. 23, Fed Chair Jay Powell said a strong economy and tight jobs market could warrant more rate rises. Traders see no significant chances of a cut until early summer 2024.


The Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its cash rate at a 15-year high of 5.5% in May, but is seen as unlikely to cut it in November. New Zealand’s inflation hit a two-year low of 5.6% in the third quarter, still way above the RBNZ’s 1% to 3% target.


The Bank of England is expected to keep interest rates at 5.25% on Nov. 2 as it balances a weak economy with high domestic inflation and the potential for the Middle East conflict to cause energy price spikes.

Interest rate futures show traders believe the BoEwill not cut rates, now at their highest since 2008, until at least June 2024.


The Bank of Canada held its key overnight rate at 5% on Oct. 25. Current market pricing suggests investors think further hikes are unlikely, but are not betting on cuts.

Inflation, which peaked at more than 8% last year, dipped to 3.8% in September, but the BoC also said price rises would not return to its 2% target until the end of 2025.


The European Central Bank kept its key rate at 4% on Thursday, noting that the latest data continued to point to inflation slowly coming down to its 2% target.

“The Governing Council’s past interest rate increases continue to be transmitted forcefully into financing conditions,” the ECB said, adding it would follow a “data-dependent” approach and future decisions would be based on incoming data.


The Norges Bank raised its key rate by 25 bps to 4.25% in late September and hinted at another hike in December.

After September’s rate decision Norway’s inflation data for that month came in lower than expected. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told parliament last week interest rates may have peaked.


Sweden raised its main interest to 4% in September and has an unenviable decision about what to do next. Economists polled by Reuters see Sweden’s economy shrinking by 0.7% in 2023. Swedish inflation, excluding volatile energy costs, came in at an uncomfortably high 6.9% in September.


The Reserve Bank of Australia held rates steady at 4.1% for a fourth meeting in October. After surprisingly robust inflation in the third quarter, markets price around a 60% chance of a quarter-point hike next month. Governor Michele Bullock has also warned of further tightening if the inflation outlook worsens.


The Swiss franc hit its highest against the euro since 2015 on Oct. 19, after the outbreak of conflict in Gaza extended a long run of Swiss currency strength.

The mighty franc has helped the SNB control inflation, which at 1.7% year-on-year in September was comfortably within target. It also threatens Swiss exports at a time when the economy is stagnating.

Futures markets are tipping the SNB to hold its policy rate at 1.75% in December before assessing what to do next.


The Bank of Japan concludes its next meeting on Oct. 31 after many months of standing firmly dovish in the face of surging global interest rates.

The BOJ has been intervening heavily in the nation’s bond market to keep yields below its 1% cap.

With pressure mounting on the BOJ to adjust this policy of suppressing domestic borrowing costs, bets are rising that it will have to tweak that 1% limit higher.

(Reporting by Naomi Rovnick, Harry Robertson, Alun John, Yoruk Bahceli, Samuel Indyk and Chiara Elisei;Graphics by Kripa Jayaram, Pasit Kongkunakornkul, Riddhima Talwani, Sumanta Sen and Vineet Sachdev; Compiled by Naomi Rovnick and Chiara Elisei; Editing by Amanda Cooper and Giles Elgood)