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Macquarie sees loonie touching 69 cents after oil drop

Tags: Loonie

The Canadian dollar will sink as low as 69 U.S. cents with little to drive the economy after oil’s collapse, according to Macquarie Group Ltd, joining a growing list of forecasters lowering their projections.

Macquarie forecast Monday the currency would reach a bottom near 69 U.S. cents. Royal Bank of Canada and Credit Suisse Group AG last week lowered their forecasts to 75 cents. HSBC Holdings Plc is calling for a 74 cent Canadian dollar. Morgan Stanley sees the loonie dropping to 71 U.S. cents by next year.

“There’s going to need to be even more Canadian dollar weakness than people expect because of the significant loss of competitiveness,” Evan Brown, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, said by phone from New York.

With consumer debt loads at a record high, manufacturing hobbled by the surge in the loonie to parity with its U.S. peer in the past decade and energy producers cutting investment and jobs, there are few growth drivers left in the economy, analysts say. Employment in manufacturing remains near the record low it reached during the 2009 recession, far from a peak in 2002, when the currency bottomed last time.

The loonie, as the currency is known, has dropped 26 percent to 79 U.S. cents, in the past two years.

“What we’re left with is now the re-balancing of the economy falls even more on non-energy exports as almost the single prop,” David Watt, Toronto-based chief economist at HSBC’s Canadian unit, said in a telephone interview. “It basically means the Canadian dollar is going to have to do more to carry the burden of adjustment.”

The cascade of forecast revisions comes after the Bank of Canada unexpectedly cut interest rates last month, calling it insurance against a slump in crude oil prices, the country’s largest export. The central bank had been counting on export- driven business investment to spur growth.

A declining currency makes a country’s exports cheaper abroad.

“The oil story was always a key factor behind that re- balancing,” said HSBC’s Watt. “Now one of the sectors that would have been carrying that burden of adjustment has abandoned ship.”

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