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The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as oil prices rose and ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that could address the recent jump in bond yields that has spooked markets.

The loonie was 0.2 per cent higher at 1.2625 to the greenback, or 79.21 U.S. cents, having traded in a range of 1.2619 to 1.2674.

Since the start of the week, the loonie has gained 0.9 per cent, helped by data showing stronger-than-expected growth in the domestic economy and higher prices for oil, one of Canada’s major exports.

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U.S. crude prices were up 1.9 per cent to $62.45 a barrel as OPEC and its allies met to discuss whether to ease production cuts and after a record jump in U.S. crude oil stocks following Texan refinery outages.

Canadian dollar forecasts for the coming months have been raised by strategists, reflecting recent gains for the currency but also expectations commodity prices will benefit from the reopening of the global economy, a Reuters poll showed.

The U.S. dollar rose against a basket of major currencies as a more orderly rise in U.S. Treasury yields lent support before a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that may determine the trend for global bond markets and currencies.

Canadian government bond yields were higher across the curve, with the 10-year up 1.8 basis points at 1.434 per cent. Last Friday, it touched a 13-month high at 1.501 per cent.

Canadian labor productivity fell 2.0 per cent in the fourth quarter, as hours worked rose faster than business output, Statistics Canada said.

Canada’s international merchandise trade data for January is due on Friday, expected to show a narrower deficit.

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