UPDATE 2-Bank of Canada holds rates, signals no rush to follow Fed

Wed Sep 4, 2013 1:26pm EDT
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* Bank of Canada holds key rate at 1 pct, as expected

* Says growth in exports, business investment delayed

* Says household sector evolving constructively

By Louise Egan and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The Bank of Canada held its key interest rate steady on Wednesday but signaled it has concerns about global economic uncertainty and the health of the country's export sector, suggesting it is in no rush to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve in altering monetary policy.

In a statement accompanying its widely expected rate decision, the central bank repeated its vague tightening bias, pointing to higher rates somewhere on the horizon. But it also highlighted the slack in Canada's economy and muted inflation, and cited signs of improvement in household debt and in the housing market, all of which suggested such a move is some way off.

By contrast, forecasts are for the Fed to start scaling back its bond purchases soon as a first step towards eventual rate hikes.

The Bank of Canada was the first Group of Seven central bank to tighten policy following the global financial crisis, hiking its main interest rate three times in 2010 to the current level of 1 percent. It has since kept to the sidelines. Economists surveyed by Reuters in late August expected the bank to resume raising rates in the fourth quarter of 2014.   Continued...