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TORONTO: The Canadian dollar weakened against its US counterpart on Friday as investors, mindful of Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine, shed exposure to risk-sensitive assets ahead of a long weekend in Canada and the United States

The loonie was 0.4% lower at 1.2747 to the greenback, or 78.45 US cents, after trading in a range of 1.2675 to 1.2758. For the week, the currency dipped 0.1%.

“We expect investors may be loath to hold too much risk into the weekend,” strategists at Scotiabank, including Shaun Osborne, said in a note. “Risk aversion has clearly weighed against the CAD in the short run.”

Wall Street fell on escalating tensions in Ukraine and the safe-haven US dollar rose against a basket of major currencies.

Canada’s bond and equity markets will be closed on Monday for Family Day. Monday is also a holiday for US financial markets.

Canadian retail sales rose 2.4% in January from December, a flash estimate from Statistics Canada showed, supporting expectations for the Bank of Canada to begin hiking interest rates at the March 2 policy announcement.

The central bank said that Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri will retire effective June 17, 2022 and, at that time, the Governing Council will return to its usual six-person complement.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, was pressured by the prospect of increased Iranian oil exports, with US crude futures settling 0.5% lower at $91.07 a barrel.

Meanwhile, tow trucks hauled away vehicles blockading central Ottawa, while protesters barricaded themselves behind snow mounds to slow the advance of police making arrests to end a trucker-led movement that has challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

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