The coronavirus pandemic has forced several governments, including Canada’s, to take actions as businesses grind to a halt and several retailers close stores.

Stephen Poloz, chief of Canada’s central bank (Bank of Cananda), at a news conference in Ottawa on March 13, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Canada’s central bank cuts key interest rate
  • Lenders lower prime rates hours later
  • Canada has over 4,600 coronavirus cases; 53 dead

Canada’s top lenders lowered their prime rates by 50 basis points on Friday, hours after the central bank unexpectedly cut its key interest rate to help the county weather the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia , Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all cut their prime rates to 2.45%, effective March 30.

The Bank of Canada cut its overnight interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%, its lowest level since June 2010 and the third cut in March.

Separately, Canada’s financial regulator eased its capital and liquidity requirements for banks, changed credit loss provisioning and allowed more loans to be securitized.

The pandemic has forced several governments to take actions as businesses grind to a halt and several retailers close stores to curb the spread of the highly-contagious disease, leaving many people jobless.

To date, Canada has reported 4,689 coronavirus cases and 53 deaths.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has also cut interest rates twice in less than two weeks in March, emergency moves to help shore up the economy in the face of the damage caused by the virus.

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