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Canadian dollar rises for sixth straight week despite jobs decline

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By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar was little changed against the greenback on Friday as jobs data for both Canada and the United States fell short of estimates, with the loonie holding near its strongest level in 3-1/2 years and extending a weekly win streak.

Canada lost 207,100 jobs in April as fresh restrictions to contain a variant-driven third wave of COVID-19 weighed on employers, Statistics Canada data showed. Analysts had forecast a decline of 175,000.

In the United States, data for the same month showed employers hiring far fewer workers than expected, likely frustrated by labor shortages.

“You have this unhealthy environment where growth goals are struggling to be met but unfortunately inflation is picking up everywhere,” said Avi Hooper, a senior portfolio manager at Invesco.

Supportive of the loonie, one cause of inflation has been a surge in the prices of some of the commodities that Canada produces.

Copper surged to a record peak on Friday, fueled by speculators and industrial buyers as Western economies recover from the pandemic, while oil settled 0.3% higher at $64.90 a barrel.

“A higher oil price from current levels, we think, will be the catalyst for the next leg of Canadian dollar strength,” Hooper said.

The loonie was nearly unchanged at 1.2145 to the greenback, or 82.34 U.S. cents, having touched its strongest intraday level since September 2017 at 1.2125. For the week, it was up 1.2%, its sixth straight weekly advance.

The currency has been on a tear since the Bank of Canada last month signaled it could begin hiking interest rates in late 2022 and cut the pace of its bond purchases.

Canadian government bond yields fell across the curve. The 5-year touched its lowest since March 5 at 0.841% before bouncing to 0.878%, down 3.8 basis points on the day.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites

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Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Economy

Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high

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The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain

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Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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