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Dec 11, 2017

Loonie little changed as investors eye central banks

Loonie Canadian dollar

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The Canadian dollar was little changed against its U.S. counterpart on Monday as investors awaited this week's Federal Reserve interest rate decision and a speech by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

The Canadian currency lost 1.3 per cent last week after the central bank struck a more dovish tone than investors had expected as it left its benchmark interest rate steady at one per cent. Poloz will discuss on Thursday the issues that keep him awake at night.

"He will probably remain a little bit cautionary," said Lennon Sweeting, chief market strategist at XE. "I don't think the Bank of Canada is in a position right now to be sharpening up policy too much."

The central bank is worried about a number of uncertainties that could impact Canada's economy, including renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA negotiators convene in Washington next week for a limited round of talks unlikely to move the needle on major sticking points, but aimed at demonstrating some progress toward closing easier chapters.

"I think we might see more heightened volatility as the week moves on and NAFTA headlines may prove to play more part in that," Sweeting said.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates at its two-day policy meeting that ends on Wednesday, and is seen possibly tightening rates two or three times in 2018. 

At 4 p.m. ET, the Canadian dollar was little changed at $1.2856 to the greenback, or 77.78 cents US. The currency traded in a narrow range of $1.2832 to $1.2868. On Friday, it touched its weakest level in a week, at $1.2880.

Speculators have trimmed bullish bets on the Canadian dollar, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed on Friday.          

The price of oil rose after a North Sea pipeline was shut for repairs, while investors focused on commodities following an explosion in New York that the city's mayor called an attempted terrorist attack.  U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.1 per cent higher at US$57.99 a barrel.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across much of a flatter yield curve, with the two-year down 1.5 cents to yield 1.512 per cent and the 10-year falling one cent to yield 1.862 per cent. The gap between Canada's two-year yield and its U.S. equivalent widened by 1.5 basis points to a spread of -31.1 basis points.

 

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