Economy & Markets

Loonie surges against U.S. dollar

By Linda Nguyen |
Source: The Canadian Press

The Canadian dollar continued its ascent Thursday, adding more than a U.S. penny so far this year against a diminishing greenback.

The loonie climbed US0.38¢ to US75.52¢, following a gain of US0.70¢ on Wednesday as the American dollar fell against other major currencies including the euro, yen and British pound.

Rising oil prices has also helped the Canadian dollar. The February crude contract climbed US50¢ to US$53.76 per barrel.

Although the loonie may be riding high into 2017, money manager John Stephenson warned that investors shouldn't expect the currency to climb much more than its current level.

The chief executive at Stephenson & Co. Capital Management anticipates the greenback will resume its rally, if in fact the U.S. Federal Reserve fulfills its expectation of hiking interest rates at least three more times this year.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 69.83 points at 15,586.58, advancing for a third day, pushed higher by gold and materials stocks.

Investors are watching the commodity-heavy index as it moves towards its all-time closing record of 15,657.63, which was set on Sept. 3, 2014.

But Stephenson said even if we eclipse this previous record, he doesn't think there are enough fundamentals to push the TSX that much higher. The index had a stellar trading year in 2016, gaining 17.5%.

"There has to be something that continues to drive it. There is certainly a euphoria or animal spirits in the market, and getting beyond a barrier gives people who are investors a sense that maybe anything is possible," he said.

"But the more it has become divorced from the fundamentals ... the more likely it is that you're just sowing the seeds for an eventual downturn. "

In New York, stock markets were mixed, as the Dow Jones industrial average retracted 42.87 points to 19,899.29 and the S&P 500 declined 1.75 points to 2,269. The Nasdaq composite gained 10.93 points to 5,487.94, closing at a new high. The last record was set on Dec. 27.

In economic news, payroll processing company ADP said private U.S. companies didn't add as many jobs as analysts had expected last month. ADP said there was a modest gain of 153,00 jobs last month, mostly in areas such as retail and health care.

In commodities, the February gold contract was up US$16 at US$1,181.30 an ounce, February natural gas gained US1¢ at US$3.27 per mmBTU, and March copper contracts were down US2¢ at US$2.54 a pound.