After aggressive rate hikes, big central banks take time out

LONDON (Reuters) – After almost two years of aggressive monetary tightening, the world’s biggest central banks are taking time out before weighing up their next move.

The Bank of England on Thursday left interest rates at 15-year high, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve also kept rates unchanged.

Focus in financial markets has shifted to when central banks will start easing policy as economic growth slows and inflation eases.

In total, nine developed economies have raised rates by acombined 3,965 basis points (bps) in a cycle that started in September 2021. Japan is the holdout dove.

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


The Federal Reserve kept rates on hold at 5.25%-5.50% on Wednesday as policymakers struggled to determine whether financial conditions may be tight enough already to control inflation, or whether an economy that continues to outperform expectations may need still more restraint.

Markets rallied on hopes that the Fed is done with monetary tightening.


New Zealand’s central bank was one of the first to kick off rate hikes in 2021 but the tightening that pushed the key cash rate to a 15-year high of 5.5% in May has likely come to an end as the economy softens.

Markets now imply only a 10% chance of another hike at the RBNZ’s next policy meeting in late November.


The Bank of England on Thursday held interest rates at their 15-year peak and stressed that inflation risks were skewed to the upside.

It also said the UK economy would not grow at all in 2024. Rate cut predictions barely moved after Thursday’s decision, still pricing a substantial chance of rate cuts from August 2024.


The Bank of Canada held its key overnight rate at 5% on Oct. 25. Market pricing suggests investors see the pause continuing for some time.

The central bank is prepared to raise rates further if inflation persists, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Oct. 30.


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

With inflation now falling fast and evidence of a slowdown growing, investors have brought forward rate cut bets. Money markets price in a 25 bps rate cut by April.


The Norges Bank left its key rate on hold at 4.25% on Thursday and reiterated that it was likely to raise rates in December.

Inflation in Norway fell faster than expected in September. But the Norges Bank on Thursday said staying on pause would require more assurance that underlying price pressures are abating.


Sweden raised its main interest rate to 4% in September and faces an unenviable choice about what comes next. Economists polled by Reuters see Sweden’s economy shrinking by 0.7% in 2023. Swedish inflation, excluding volatile energy costs, was an uncomfortably high 6.9% in September.


Chances of an imminent rate hike from the Reserve Bank of Australia grew on Wednesday after data showed house prices rebounding to near record highs and the International Monetary Fund recommended tightening monetary and fiscal policy screws to curb inflation.

Markets are pricing a near-70% chance that the RBA will raise rates by a quarter point to 4.35% on Nov. 7.


Futures markets tip the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to hold its policy rate at 1.75% in December before assessing what to do next.

The Swiss franc hit its highest against the euro since 2015 on Oct. 20, before falling back somewhat, 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 came in at 1.7% in October. It also threatens Swiss exports at a time when the economy is stagnating.


The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Tuesday kept ultra-low interest rates steady but tweaked its controversial 1% cap on the 10-year bond yield to allow long-term borrowing costs to rise more.

The BOJ also raised price forecasts to project inflation will well exceed its 2% target this year and next.

The yield cap change underwhelmed investors who expected a stronger move. It took unusually pointed warnings about currency intervention from Japan’s top currency diplomat Masato Kanda on Wednesday to halt a slide in the yen that took it the brink of a 33-year low.

(Reporting by Naomi Rovnick, Harry Robertson, Alun John, Yoruk Bahceli, Samuel Indyk and Dhara Ranasinghe Graphics by Kripa Jayaram, Pasit Kongkunakornkul, Riddhima Talwani, Sumanta Sen and Vineet Sachdev; Editing by Dhara Ranasinghe and Susan Fenton)