Canadian dollar tumbles to 2-week low on jobs letdown

Fri Jan 6, 2012 4:59pm EST
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar slumped to its lowest level in more than two weeks against the U.S. dollar on Friday after soft domestic employment data and anxiety over Europe's debt crisis outweighed the positive implications of an impressive U.S. jobs report.

Most of the details in the Canadian employment survey disappointed. The economy added 17,500 jobs in December, but the jobless rate rose and the new positions were all part-time, further evidence the post-recession hiring surge has ended even as U.S. jobs growth finally picks up the pace.

Canada outperformed the United States both during and after the global financial crisis, recovering all of the jobs it lost in the recession. But the reports on Friday suggest that relative strength could be waning.

"Canada is somewhat out of step with the rest of the world and that still seems to be the case after today's report ... maybe we're a victim of our own success," said Sheryl King, head of Canadian economics at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

The Canadian dollar ended the North American session at C$1.0270 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.37 U.S. cents, down from Thursday's North American finish at C$1.0191 against the U.S. dollar, or 98.13 U.S. cents. The currency ended the first week of 2012 down 1 percent.

Weak U.S. and Canadian equity markets and a plunging euro didn't help sentiment for Canada's cyclical currency, as investors continued to worry about funding for European governments and banks. .N .TO

"It's just more generally risk-off sentiment. I think the Canadian jobs data on the margin had a role to play because the Canadian dollar is the worst performer on the day relative to the U.S.," said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.

"It's added a little sense of unease into the market."   Continued...

<p>A hologram security feature is seen on the new Canadian 100 dollar bill made of polymer in Toronto November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>