The Canadian dollar strengthened to a three-month high against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as oil prices surged and the greenback was pressured by the prospect of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.
The U.S. dollar sank against a basket of currencies, posting its biggest two-day drop in a year a day after the Federal Reserve signalled it was ready to cut interest rates as early as next month.
The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, jumped after Iran shot down a U.S. military drone, raising fears of a military confrontation between Tehran and Washington. U.S. crude oil futures settled 5.4% higher at $56.65 a barrel.
In addition to higher oil prices and the prospect of Fed rate cuts, the loonie has benefited from data on Wednesday showing that the annual rate of Canadian inflation climbed to a seven-month high in May.
“We have got three forces at play ... all working in the same direction, pushing the Canadian dollar to very high levels,” said Hosen Marjaee, a senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.
At 3:51 p.m., the Canadian dollar was trading 0.7 per cent higher at 1.3190 to the greenback, or 75.82 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest intraday level since March 1 at 1.3151.
Gains for the loonie came as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it was now up to Canada and the United States to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) after Mexico’s Senate approved the trade deal on Wednesday.
Canada sends about 75 per cent of its exports to the United States, so its economy could benefit if all three countries ratify the new North American trade pact.
Canadian government bond prices were lower across a steeper yield curve, with the two-year down 2.5 cents to yield 1.404 per cent and the 10-year falling 29 cents to yield 1.454 per cent.
The gap between Canada’s two-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 4 basis points to a spread of 33.6 basis points in favour of the U.S. bond, its smallest gap since February last year.
Canada lost 16,000 jobs in May, the first decline in three months, as hiring fell in the construction sector, according to a report from ADP, a human resources company.
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