TORONTO: The Canadian dollar weakened to a five-week low against its US counterpart on Friday as oil prices dropped and the greenback broadly climbed, with the loonie sliding despite the Bank of Canada opening the door to larger interest rate hikes.
The US dollar rallied against a basket of major currencies after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sent a clear message on Thursday that a half-percentage-point interest rate increase “will be on the table” when the US central bank meets on May 3-4.
The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, was burdened by the prospect of weaker global growth, higher interest rates and COVID-19 lockdowns in China hurting demand.
US crude prices fell nearly 2% to $101.75 a barrel, while the Canadian dollar was trading 0.8% lower at 1.2685 to the greenback, or 78.83 US cents, its biggest decline since December last year.
The currency touched its weakest level since March 17 at 1.2688 and was on track to decline 0.6% for the week.
The Bank of Canada could consider a larger rate increase than the half-point move it made last week, as the central bank grapples with reining in inflation, which is at a 31-year high, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday.
Money markets have fully priced in another half-point hike at the next policy decision on June 1 and see about a 10% chance of a three-quarter-point increase.
Canadian retail sales edged up 0.1% in February from January as higher sales at clothing stores and gasoline stations offset lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, Statistics Canada said. A preliminary estimate showed sales growing 1.4% in March.
Canadian government bond yields were higher across a flatter curve, tracking the move in US Treasuries. The 2-year rose 8.4 basis points to 2.718%, its highest since October 2008.