The Canadian dollar was little changed against the greenback on Thursday, steadying after a dovish shift in tone by the Bank of Canada helped drive it to an earlier one-month low, although a drop in oil prices could hurt prospects for the currency.
At 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading nearly unchanged at 1.3127 to the greenback, or 76.18 U.S. cents. The currency hit its weakest intraday level since Dec. 23 at 1.3171.
“It has steadied, although the underpinnings seem shaky to me,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.
Lower commodity prices “should usually drag CAD lower,” Anderson said.
The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, extended this week’s decline on concern the spread of a virus from China could lower fuel demand if it stunts economic growth. U.S. crude oil futures settled 2% lower at $55.59 a barrel.
On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate on hold at 1.75% as expected but said a future cut was possible should a recent slowdown in domestic growth persist.
“If the underperformance in the Canadian economy continued into 2020, the Bank of Canada will likely need to cut rates,” said Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets.
The central bank diverged in 2019 from many of its global peers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, by not easing. But money markets now see a greater-than 50% chance of a rate cut by April, up from about 20% before Wednesday’s rate decision.
The loonie has fallen 1% since the start of the year after climbing 5% in 2019, when it was the top-performing G10 currency.
Canada’s retail sales report for November is due on Friday, which could be closely watched by investors after the October data showed the biggest monthly decline in nearly one year.
Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries on safe-haven demand. The two-year rose 5.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.519% and the 10-year was up 30 Canadian cents to yield 1.418%.
The 10-year yield hit its lowest intraday level since Nov. 20 at 1.402%.
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