The Canadian dollar climbed Tuesday against higher oil prices and a softening greenback following comments from president-elect Donald Trump that seem to suggest he favours a weaker U.S. dollar.
The loonie gained 0.61 of a U.S. cent to US76.58¢, a day before a scheduled interest rate announcement by the Bank of Canada.
It’s highly anticipated that bank governor Stephen Poloz will hold its benchmark rate steady at 0.5%.
Stephen Carlin, head of equities and managing director at CIBC Asset Management, says the rise in the Canadian dollar can be pegged to the weakening of the greenback, that started to fall after Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Monday that the dollar was “too strong.”
“Our companies can’t compete with them (China) now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us,” Trump, who will be inaugurated into the White House on Friday, told the newspaper.
Carlin said the comments made investors nervous about the incoming president’s policies.
“It’s not typical of a president-elect or a president to make a comment specific around this topic. This is a new regime. This is a new party in power so the markets are really trying to gauge what these comments mean,” he said.
Despite the loonie’s recent rise, Carlin cautioned that it’s not based on Canadian fundamentals, which indicates the increase could be temporary.
“This is strictly due to the influence of other currencies,” he said.
“It’s not the rest of the world looking at the Canadian dollar and saying, ‘Look at the (strong) fundamentals for the Canadian marketplace.”‘
Carlin added that investors should brace for more volatility as Trump continues to indicate where he actually stands on certain policies.
“The markets have rallied strongly on a variety of platforms: job growth, lower regulations and taxes. Those three things have influenced the market, so now, we’re beginning to see some commentary where Trump has made comments that go counter to that,” he said.
“It throws a question mark in front of investors’ eyes and that creates volatility.”
In equity markets, the S&P/TSX composite index in Toronto slipped 37.93 points to 15,441.36, weighed by losses in industrials and financials stocks.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 58.96 points at 19,826.77, while the S&P 500 index slipped 6.75 points to 2,267.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 35.39 points to 5,538.73. U.S. markets had been closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In commodities, the February crude contract gained US11¢ to US$52.48, as investors fled to the perceived safe haven of gold. The February bullion contract jumped US$16.70 at US$1,212.90 an ounce.
February natural gas was down a penny at US$3.41 per mmBTU and March copper contracts shed US7¢ at US$2.63 per pound.