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Nov 22, 2017

Loonie strengthens to nine-day high as oil climbs

Canadian dollar loonie $10 bill

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The Canadian dollar strengthened to a nine-day high against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as oil prices climbed and minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting weighed on the greenback.

The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies after data showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in October, and the Fed's November meeting minutes showed policymakers may be starting to question a December interest rate increase.

The price of U.S. crude oil reached US$58 a barrel for the first time since July 2015 as the shutdown of one of the largest crude pipelines from Canada cut supply to the United States.

"Everyone is looking at that key psychological level in crude, which is US$60," said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets. "And I think if we get there, USD-CAD is probably [going to trade] down through $1.25."

Strong inflows of foreign money into Canadian stocks and bonds this year are adding to investor confidence that the rally since May in the country's currency is sustainable because it is not just supported by speculative flows.

At 4 p.m. ET, the Canadian dollar was trading at $1.2702 to the greenback, or 78.73 cents US, up 0.6 per cent. The currency touched its strongest since Nov. 13 at $1.2697, although activity was lighter than usual ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

The loonie has been pressured recently by concern that an uncertain outlook for the North American Free Trade Agreement will stall Bank of Canada interest rate hikes. The United States, Mexico and Canada failed to resolve any major differences in a fifth round of talks to rework the NAFTA trade deal, drawing a swift complaint from the Trump administration on Tuesday that the lack of progress could spell doom.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield curve on Wednesday, although they lagged the rally in U.S. Treasuries.

Canada's two-year rose 1.5 cents to yield 1.455 per cent and the 10-year climbed 10 cents to yield 1.907 per cent. The gap between Canada's two-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 3.8 basis points to a spread of -27.6 basis points.

Canadian retail sales data for September is due on Thursday.

 

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