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Jim Rogers sees Canadian dollar as ‘one of the best currencies’ Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Rogers pumps loonie Jim Rogers believes the Canadian dollar is "one of the best currencies around." Having said that, the renowned investor also has faith in the euro, and we'll have to see how that plays out this year.

Mr. Rogers made the comments today on CNBC, which noted he also recommended the euro last November, only to see it drop. The well known investor said today that he's considering buying the currency after having sold recently as hedge funds unwind short positions.

He's also keen on the Swiss franc, and believes it will become the safest of havens, according to CNBC.

Mr. Rogers is pinning some hope on euro leaders such as Germany's Angela Merkel, who have so far failed to find a lasting solution to the debt crisis that has plagued the 17-member monetary union for two years now.

“We’re going to see a lot of distortions in the markets because a lot of governments are going to be finding a lot of money and printing a lot of money,” he added. “Can America continue to add staggering amounts of debt to the balance sheet and print staggering amounts of money? I don’t think so.”

Markets have a different view of the euro, expecting it will weaken in the first half of the year, said Sebastien Galy of Société Générale, citing a recent survey.

Other observers also see the loonie having a decent year.

"The relatively benign risk backdrop as we enter 2012 has helped to push the Canadian dollar back towards parity ... helped along by still-firm oil prices," said Mark Chandler and Ian Pollick of RBC Dominion Securities.

"Our forecasts for 2012 see these trends more likely to prevail during the second half of the year, though until we hit the first hurdles on the policy front ... we may seee some happy sailing."

Senior currency strategist Camilla Sutton noted that the loonie is up by 3 per cent since its weakest level in December.

"We are medium term [Canadian dollar] bulls expecting it to trade sustainably through parity in 2012," she said.

Manufacturing picks up The world's factories have kicked into higher gear, buoying investors who are desperate for better economic news.

Purchasing managers indexes from Asia, the United States and Canada also show industry picking up in December. In the United States, in particular, the reading caps a string of better numbers.

China's manufacturing PMI rose to 50.3, signalling industry is expanding. In Australia, the PMI was above 50, the level that separates contraction from expansion, for the first time in half a year. And in the United States, the Institute for Supply Management's key index rose to 53.9 from November's 52.7.

"The acceleration in manufacturing activity in December is but one of many indicators pointing to a strong end-of-year performance for the U.S. economy in 2011," said senior economist James Marple of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"Nonetheless, headwinds to growth are unlikely to ease in 2012. The increase in political tension with Iran is yet another near-term worry, posing upside risk to oil prices at a time when the global economy can ill afford it."

In Canada, Royal Bank of Canada's Canadian manufacturing PMI climbed to 54 from 53.3.

"The RBC PMI found that Canadian manufacturing business conditions improved further in December," the bank said.

"Firms generally commented on greater client demand. Concurrently, both new orders and output increased strongly and at rates faster than registered in November. New export orders also rose in December, ending a two-month period of decline. Meanwhile, the rate of input price inflation eased further during the latest survey period and was at the slowest pace in the 15-month series history."

CP, Ackman trade shots New York shareholder activist Bill Ackman and the board of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. are trading shots over who should lead the historic company to a new future, The Globe and Mail's Brent Jang and Jacquie McNish report.

Responding to a public rebuke from CP chairman John Cleghorn over Mr. Ackman’s pressure to hire Hunter Harrison as the railway’s new chief executive officer, the activist called for the resignation of the current CEO, Fred Green.

“We believe it is the senior-most leadership of the company that must be changed, namely Fred Green, in order for this potential to be unlocked,” Mr. Ackman said in a letter sent to Mr. Cleghorn, obtained by The Globe and Mail.

His letter also took aim at Mr. Cleghorn for denying media reports that some CP directors had expressed interest in Mr. Harrison as a potential CEO candidate.

Athabasca sells stake China is moving more forcefully into Canada's oil sands.

Cretaceous Oilsands Holdings Ltd., a unit of PetroChina International Investment Ltd., is taking full control of a project in which it already held the bulk, buying the remaining 40 per cent from Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. .

The $680-million deal for the piece of the MacKay River project, which is scheduled to begin production in 2014, was announced today. It represents the first time China will have complete control of an oil sands, The Globe and Mail's Carrie Tait reports.

Athabasca said in a statement it decided to go ahead with the deal because it believes the money can be better used elsewhere.

“Since creating the joint venture with Cretaceous in February, 2010 and until our exercise of the put option, Athabasca has grown and diversified," said chief executive officer Sveinung Svarte.

"We added approximately 3 billion barrels of contingent resource (best estimate) through successful drilling and acquisitions, reaching approximately 10 billion barrels of contingent resources (best estimate).”

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In Economy Lab If any more evidence were necessary, the results of the last federal election and the addition of more House of Commons seats in the next one have made it clear that the Canadian centre of political gravity has shifted to the point where it will no longer be possible to govern without significant electoral support west of Ontario, Stephen Gordon writes.

In International Business With shale gas accounting for an ever larger share of U.S. natural gas production, international oil companies are queueing up to buy vast tracts of American land - and U.S. companies are lining up to sell it to them. The Financial Times reports on today's deal by France's Total.

In Globe Careers Paul Schoemaker's book, Brilliant Mistakes, is living proof that he has no fear when it comes to confronting one of the most basic tenets of big business - failure is a career killer, Peter Cohan of Forbes.com writes.

In Personal Finance Recent graduates often get bogged down by the big numbers, like loans and rent, and pay little attention to their pocket change.

From today's Report on Business

Follow on Twitter: @michaelbabad

 

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