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TORONTO: The Canadian dollar strengthened against its US counterpart on Friday as domestic data showing strong economic growth supported bets for a series of upsized interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada, but the currency was still headed for a monthly decline.

The loonie was trading 0.5% higher at 1.2735 to the greenback, or 78.52 US cents, recovering from its lowest intraday level in more than seven weeks on Thursday at 1.2879.

For the month, the currency was on track to weaken 1.9% as the war in Ukraine, COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the potential for aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve spooked investors worried about the global economic outlook.

Canadian gross domestic product rose by 1.1% in February, beating estimates, Statistics Canada data showed. March GDP was seen up 0.5% in a flash estimate, with the annualized Q1 GDP likely to be up 5.6%.

Money markets expect the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates by at least half a percentage point at each of the next three meetings to tackle inflation. The central bank hiked by that increment earlier this month, marking its biggest single increase in 22 years.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, rose for a fourth day on fears over Russian supply disruption.

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