Canadian dollar notches 1-week high as jobs rise

TORONTO: The Canadian dollar strengthened to a more than one-week high against its US counterpart on Friday, adding to gains after Canada was exempted the day before from US metals tariffs, as domestic data showed that employment rose in March.

The Canadian economy added 15,400 jobs in February after a big loss in January, but full-time positions shrank and wage growth decelerated, prompting analysts to predict the Bank of Canada will be in no rush to raise interest rates.

“There is some relief that the marked decline (in jobs) we saw in January is not being maintained,” said Royal Bank of Canada Assistant Chief Economist Paul Ferley. “It will keep the Bank of Canada cautious.”

Chances of a rate hike by the central bank at the next meeting in April were little changed at one-in-three, while money markets continued to see two hikes by year end, data from the overnight index swaps market showed.

The Bank of Canada, which has hiked three times since July, left its benchmark rate unchanged at 1.25 percent on Wednesday as it worried about an uncertain trade outlook.

On Thursday, Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Tim Lane said it was too soon to call the “all clear” on tariffs.

US President Donald Trump has said that Canada and Mexico would be exempt as long as talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) progressed.

At 9:38 a.m. EST (1438 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.3 per cent higher at C$1.2851 to the greenback, or 77.81 US cents. The currency touched its strongest since March 1 at C$1.2820.

In separate domestic data, capacity utilisation rose to 86.0 per cent in the fourth quarter, above predictions for a rate of 85.2 per cent and the highest since the second quarter of 2007.

US job growth surged in February, recording its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years, but a slowdown in wage gains pointed to a gradual increase in inflation this year.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, rose amid optimism over a planned meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

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