The Canadian dollar sank to a seven-week low against the U.S. dollar on Monday, weighed down by lower oil prices, as investors dumped commodity-linked currencies amid fears about the spread of the latest coronavirus, which broke out in China a few weeks ago.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars, also tied to commodity prices like the Canadian currency, were under pressure as well.
Investors are worried about the impact of the virus on travel, tourism and the broader global economy.
U.S. crude oil prices fell on Monday to their lowest level in more than three months on concerns that the virus could hamper economic growth and reduce demand for fuel. U.S. crude oil futures were last down 2.2 per cent $52.99 per barrel.
Oil prices have lost 13 per cent of their value since news of the virus grabbed headlines last week.
The death toll from the virus rose to 81 on Monday, with more than 2,800 infected.
A small number of cases linked to people who traveled from Wuhan, China, have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including Thailand, France, Japan and the United States, but no deaths have been reported outside China. Cambodia confirmed its first case on Monday.
Canada reported its second case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Monday. The wife of Canada’s first confirmed patient with the coronavirus tested positive for it at an Ontario laboratory, with 19 other suspected cases under investigation, public health officials said.
“All this fear is contributing to a broad ‘risk-off’ move in global markets,” said Erik Bregar, head of FX strategy at Exchange Bank of Canada in Toronto.
In afternoon trading, the U.S. dollar rose 0.3 per cent against the Canadian currency to C$1.3180. The greenback earlier climbed to a seven-week peak of C$1.32.
The Canadian dollar has been on a downward trend since the Bank of Canada took an unexpected dovish turn last week when it left its benchmark interest rate steady at 1.75 per cent, as expected, but said a future cut was possible should a recent slowdown in domestic growth persist.
In the debt market, Canadian government debt yields were lower across the maturity curve, with the two-year yield down at 1.443 per cent, versus 1.486 per cent late on Friday. Canadian two-year yields fell to 1.435 per cent, their lowest in more than three months.
Benchmark Canadian 10-year yields fell to 1.309 per cent from Friday’s 1.362 per cent. Earlier in the session, 10-year yields declined to a 3½-month low of 1.299 per cent.
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