The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Monday as signs of a slowdown in coronavirus-related deaths bolstered equity markets and a measure of Canadian financial system stress eased for the seventh straight day.
Stocks globally rose as the death toll from the virus slowed across major European nations including France and Italy.
“The mood music in the market is a little more constructive for risk assets today,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank. “The CAD sell off through late March has stabilized.”
The loonie plunged 4.7% in March, its biggest drop since January 2015. The currency tends to be sensitive to the global flow of trade and capital because Canada runs a current account deficit and is a major producer of commodities, including oil.
Canadian firms in the accommodation, food services and recreation sectors have already seen demand collapse during the coronavirus outbreak while other sectors are still bracing for a looming economic hit, a special Bank of Canada survey showed.
To support Canada’s economy and the financial system, the central bank has slashed interest rates to 0.25%, embraced quantitative easing for the first time, buying government bonds in large quantities, and introduced a gamut of liquidity measures.
Those liquidity measures could be helping, with the one-month rate for bankers’ acceptances, a key funding market, falling 12 basis points on Monday to 1.02%.
At 3:18 p.m. (1918 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.6% higher at 1.4116 to the greenback, or 70.84 U.S. cents. The currency traded in a range of 1.4081 to 1.4261.
The gain for the loonie came despite a drop in the price of oil. U.S. crude oil futures settled nearly 8% lower at $26.08 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia delayed a meeting to discuss output cuts that could help to reduce global oversupply.
Canadian government bond yields rose across the curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year was up 4.8 basis points at 0.761%.
Canada said it was pressing Washington over a complaint that U.S. officials had blocked the export of three million face masks bought by the province of Ontario to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.