TD, CIBC, BMO and other skyscrapers in Toronto in spring

Several Canadian banks and financial institutions have dropped their prime lending rate by 50 basis points to 3.45%.

The moves by the Royal Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Desjardins Group, Laurentian Bank, B2B Bank and HSBC match the Bank of Canada’s decision Wednesday to drop its key lending rate by 50 basis points, which was itself a matching of what the U.S. Federal Reserve had cut a day earlier over the novel coronavirus.

The Bank of Canada said it cut its target for the overnight rate because Covid-19, as the virus is named, was “a material negative shock” to Canada’s already softening economic outlook.

The cut in the bank’s key rate is the first since the summer of 2015 and brings the rate to a level not seen since early 2018. The bank had not dropped its rate by 50 basis points since the financial crisis.

The rate cut will make mortgages and other borrowing cheaper, but has also raised concerns it will further inflame already overheated housing markets. says a homeowner with a five-year, $450,000 mortgage at a 2.6% variable rate amortized over 25 years would save about $115 a month if the mortgage were to drop 50 basis points to 2.1%.

Home sales and prices in Toronto surged in February.