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Euro set for biggest monthly drop since mid-2019 on economy fears – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON (Reuters) – The euro languished below $1.18 on Monday as the prospect of tougher coronavirus curbs in France and Germany weighed on the short-term outlook for the European economy.

The euro slipped 0.2% in London trading at $1.1774, nearing last week’s four-and-a-half-month trough of $1.1762. On a monthly basis, it is down 2.3%, its biggest drop since July 2019.

Compounding the single’s currency woes have been the widening interest rate differentials between German and U.S. yields. The spread for 10-year debt widened to 200 basis points from 150 bps at the start of the year, boosting the dollar.

“In a nutshell, the U.S. economy is much stronger and miles ahead in the immunization game compared to Europe’s and Japan’s, and this ultimately translates into the Fed normalizing policy years before the ECB or the BoJ,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, a strategist at brokerage XM.

The euro’s woes have worsened as Europe’s faltering vaccination programme runs into a wave of new infections, even as positioning data showed investors remain heavily long euros, a bearish sign for investors. and

“Much focus will remain on the virus situation in Europe and whether lockdowns can slow rising case numbers and also whether the slow pace of vaccinations can finally reach exit speed,” ING economists said in a daily note.

The dollar held firm against other currencies as a slight risk-off sentiment rippled through global markets, with U.S. stock futures in negative territory in quiet quarter-end rebalancing flows.

YEN SHORTS GROW

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar steadied at 92.810, just below a November 2020 high of 92.92 hit last week.

Weekly positioning data showed the broad trend of growing dollar bullishness remained in play. Hedge funds cut their overall short dollar bets to their lowest levels since June 2020 while ramping up their bearish bets on the yen.

Short yen positions have grown in recent weeks with hedge funds building their net short bets to 33% of open interest, according to ING data.

Steadying stock markets offered some support for the yen, but falling bond yields and expectations of a global economic rebound have rekindled short bets. The yen is among the worst- performing currencies so far this quarter, down 6% loss the dollar.

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

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

Graphic: Yen positions https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjvqllkapx/Yen%20positions.JPG

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; editing by Nick Macfie, Larry King)

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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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