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TORONTO: The Canadian dollar strengthened against its US counterpart on Monday as oil prices rose and attention turned to a Bank of Canada interest rate decision this week, with the currency recovering from its lowest level in more than two months.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, rose on hopes the Omicron coronavirus variant would have a less damaging economic impact if its symptoms proved mostly mild and as the prospect of an imminent rise in Iranian oil exports receded.

US crude oil futures were up 3.1% at $68.29 a barrel, while global equity markets managed a tentative rebound. “A somewhat more constructive risk mood is helping lift the CAD,” strategists at Scotiabank, including Shaun Osborne, said in a note. The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2791 to the greenback, or 78.18 US cents, after trading in a range of 1.2783 to 1.2842. On Friday, the currency touched its weakest intraday level since Sept. 20 at 1.2854.

The Bank of Canada is due to make an interest rate announcement on Wednesday. In October, the central bank signaled it could begin raising interest rates from the current level of 0.25% in April. “This week’s policy decision is not expected to result in any change in policy,” the Scotiabank strategists said. “But strong jobs, high inflation, and strong Q3 GDP should drive a positive message from the bank on the economic outlook, even if the Omicron variant clouds near-term risks.” Data on Friday showed that Canada’s economy gained 154,000 jobs in November, beating estimates.

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