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business briefing

Loonie surges

The Canadian dollar cracked the 77-cent mark today, carrying on the dramatic run from the Fed-induced weakness of the U.S. currency yesterday.

The loonie is now up by about 9 cents from its January depths, at a five-month high, having been driven up over the past several weeks by more stable oil prices and the outlook for monetary policy in Canada and the United States.

Where the U.S. is concerned, that outlook hit home yesterday, slamming the greenback as Federal Reserve officials still pointed to further interest rate hikes but at a slower pace.

So the move in the loonie yesterday and today is pretty much driven by the fortunes of the U.S. dollar, said Charles St-Arnaud of the Nomura economics department, though commodity prices are also higher for the same reason.

“Janet Yellen sneaked into the dovish camp and let the U.S. dollar cheapen across the board,” said London Capital Group market analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

“The cheapening [U.S. dollar] clearly helped to push the loonie higher this morning,” she added.

“Combined with the stronger conviction that the current recovery in oil prices could be sustainable, the Canadian dollar has all the good reasons to rise and shine today.”

The loonie has touched a low of 76.2 cents today and a high of 77.2 cents, having closed out yesterday at just shy of 76.5 cents. It stood at just about 77 cents by late afternoon.

As for what happens next, Royal Bank of Canada strategist Adam Cole believes this is all “a bit of an overreaction” to the Fed, and fortunes will change.

Ms. Ozkardeskaya said a further move in the loonie toward the 80-cent mark “could well be justified” given the outlook for oil prices, though it’s now moving toward the “overbought territory” against the U.S. dollar.

Eligibility won't change

Next week’s federal budget will return Canada’s pension eligibility to age 65, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

Mr. Trudeau made the announcement in an interview at the Bloomberg offices in New York today, The Globe and Mail’s Laura Stone reports. He had promised the change during last year's election.

He said his predecessor, Stephen Harper, was wrong to move the Old Age Security eligibility to 67 from 65. Mr. Harper raised the age in the 2012 budget, making it effective for 2023.

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