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Canadian dollar posts six-week high on business optimism

Canadian dollar posts six-week high on business optimism

OTTAWA: The Canadian dollar strengthened to a nearly six-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, boosted by higher oil prices and a business survey from the Bank of Canada that supported expectations for further interest rate hikes.

Canadian companies remain optimistic about sales growth despite trade uncertainties, the central bank said in the first-quarter report.

The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates three times since July. Chances of another hike by July edged up to nearly 80 per cent from 72 per cent before the report, the overnight index swaps market indicated. “The business outlook survey was fairly friendly to the Canadian dollar,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets. “The other piece of the puzzle is oil prices … and the recovery in the WCS (Western Canadian Select) spot price continues.”

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, was supported by a rebound in the stock market as concerns of a trade war between the United States and China eased. U.S. crude oil futures settled 2.2 per cent higher at $63.42 a barrel. Canadian crude tends to trade at a discount to U.S. crude, due, in part, to supply constraints. But the gap has plunged by more than $13 since March, data from Shorcan Energy showed.

Business groups and local officials called for Canada’s government to guarantee that an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is completed, after operator Kinder Morgan Canada halted most work on the $7.4 billion project.