Three times this month Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada's second-largest bank, has been first to lower its prime rate following decisions by the Bank of Canada (the central bank) to lower its overnight rate. Toronto-Dominion's biggest rivals followed suit the same day.
For example, on Oct.8, TD Bank was the first to announce a cut that day with a statement at 1 p.m., followed by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) 43 minutes later. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's largest bank, was next at 2:32 p.m., followed by Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal.
Two days later, the banks reduced their rates again following the federal government agreement to buy as much as C$25 billion of bank mortgages. TD was first, announcing a 15 basis-point cut at 12:31 p.m., followed by Scotiabank at 1:23 p.m.
The Canadian Banks broke with tradition on Oct. 8, lowering their prime rate by 0.25%, short of the Bank of Canada's 0.50% cut.
TD Bank led again on Oct. 21. following a 9 a.m. Bank of Canada announcement of a 25 basis-point cut. TD cut its prime rate 35 basis points at 4:15 p.m. Canada's five other largest banks followed over the next 48 minutes.
What does all this mean for the consumer? At the end of the day, none of these banks gain much advantage by cutting first because new rates don't go into effect until the next day.
Canada's six largest banks are now offering the same prime rate of 4 percent.
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