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Dollar finds footing on U.S. economy as euro falters – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar began the week on a firm footing, inching toward a milestone peak against the euro on Monday, as a cautious market mood pushed investors to safety while U.S. economic strength and a rapid vaccine rollout also added to the greenback’s shine.

The euro was down 0.1% in the Asia session at $1.1783, not far above last week’s four-and-a-half-month trough of $1.1762 and well below its 200-day moving average of about $1.1866.

The common currency is headed for its worst month since mid-2019 as Europe’s faltering vaccination programme runs into a wave of new infections, a bearish signal as positioning data shows investors remain heavily long euros.

“The euro has continued to fall … even as long-term U.S. yields have lost some upward momentum,” analysts at MUFG Bank said in a note. “It suggests euro weakness was driven more by concerns over the weakening outlook for growth in the eurozone in light of rising COVID cases.”

Virus-driven caution also helped the dollar higher against the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar and sterling and it rose against oil-liked currencies as the re-floating of the ship blocking the Suez Canal pushed crude prices down by about 1.5%.

Concern in equity markets at the widening fallout from a wave of liquidations linked to investment fund Archegos Capital also put investors in a careful mindset.

Only the safe-haven Japanese yen made headway, scraping from a 10-month low it made on Friday to inch about 0.2% higher to 109.43 — though along with the Swiss franc it remains at the bottom of the G10 leaderboard this year.

Over the quarter, the dollar has posted a 0.7% loss on the pound, which has been supported by Britain’s speedy vaccination rollout, a 0.8% gain on the Australian dollar and a 2.9% gain against the kiwi, which has been hit by housing market reforms.

The yen, which is sensitive to gaps in returns on U.S. and Japanese government debt has fallen about 5.7%, its worst quarterly performance since late 2016, while the franc is down 5.8% for its worst performance since the third quarter of 2014.

This year’s 76-basis-point rise in benchmark 10-year Treasury yields – as the U.S. economy rebounds – has been a large driver, as the better returns offer carry for investors who can borrow the yen and franc very cheaply.

The Aussie was last down 0.3% at $0.7621 on Monday and the New Zealand dollar had dropped 0.3% to $0.6978, while sterling slipped 0.2% to $1.3767.

“The U.S. is also being helped on its own by some pretty good economic data, fantastic rollout of vaccines, good pace of vaccination and (positive) stock markets,” said Westpac currency analyst Imre Speizer.

“The domestic economy is doing better than expected and likely to be the case for the next few months, so that might hold the U.S. dollar up and that’s what’s caused the Aussie, kiwi and emerging-market currencies to pullback in March.”

U.S. jobless claims fell to a one-year low last week and President Joe Biden said he would double his vaccination goal, after surpassing 100 million shots 42 days ahead of schedule.

In contrast, European inoculations have been hit by supply problems and safety concerns.

Investors are looking ahead to Purchasing Managers Index figures due midweek and for some details of Biden’s infrastructure spending plan. However the main data will be U.S. hiring figures due on Good Friday.

“The distribution of forecasts range from 460,000 to 1 million (jobs), where the whisper number sits at the top end of the range,” said Pepperstone’s head of research, Chris Weston.

“One million jobs would set the reflation trades alight … and cause a solid sell-off in bond yields taking USD/JPY and USD/CHF higher,” he said. “The euro should push through last weeks lows of 1.1761 and towards 1.1690.”

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Economy

Canada to go big on budget spending as pandemic lingers, election looms

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By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s Liberal government will deliver on its promise to spend big when it presents its first budget in two years next week amid a fast-rising third wave of COVID-19 infections and ahead of an election expected in coming months.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to support Canadians, and in November promised up to C$100 billion ($79.8 billion) in stimulus over three years to “jump-start” an economic recovery in what is likely to be a crucial year for her party.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals depend on the support of at least one opposition group to pass laws, and senior party members have said an election is likely within months as it seeks a clear majority and a free hand to legislate.

Furthermore, by September, all Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be, Trudeau has said.

Freeland has said the pandemic created a “window” of opportunity for a national childcare plan, and that will be reflected in next Monday’s budget along with spending to accelerate Canada‘s shift toward a more sustainable economy.

“It will be a green and innovative recovery plan aimed at creating jobs,” said a government source who declined to comment on specific measures. The budget will aim to help those “who have suffered most” the effects of the pandemic, the source said.

Critics say the government would be better to hold off on blockbuster spending because the economy has shown it is poised to bounce back, and to prevent the country from racking up too much debt.

“Clearly a garden-variety stimulus package is the last thing we need. This is pile-on debt,” said Don Drummond, an economist at Ontario’s Queen’s University.

“The risk is that at some point interest rates are going to go up and we’re going to be in trouble,” he said, pointing to the mid-1990s when Canada‘s debt-to-GDP ratio skyrocketed, leading to rating agency downgrades and years of austerity.

The Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.25% to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and has said rates will not rise until labor market slack is absorbed, currently forecast for into 2023. That may change when it releases new projections on April 21.

EXPANDING ECONOMY

More than 3 million Canadians lost their jobs to the pandemic. As of March, before a third wave forced new lockdowns, only 296,000 remained unemployed because of COVID.

Despite still-high unemployment levels in hard-hit service sectors, the economy has expanded for nine straight months even as provinces have adjusted health restrictions to counter waves of infections.

“Once we see sustained reopening, we do think that the recovery will have quite a bit of momentum on its own,” said Josh Nye, a senior economist at RBC Economics.

“We think Canada‘s economy will be operating pretty close to full capacity by this time next year,” he said.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect Freeland to project a deficit in the range of C$133 billion to C$175 billion for fiscal 2021/22, up from the C$121.2 billion ($96.7 billion)

deficit forecast in November. https://tmsnrt.rs/3wSJPcm

The deficit for fiscal 2020/21 ended in March is forecast by the government to top a historic C$381.6 billion ($304.5 billion).

Canada announced on Monday a C$5.9 billion ($4.7 billion) aid package for the country’s largest airline carrier, Air Canada, and said talks were ongoing with No. 2 carrier WestJet Airlines Ltd and others.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Steve Scherer and Peter Cooney)

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Economy

CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Economy

Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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