March 10, 2020 / 7:26 PM / in 3 months

Loonie slides to four-year low as market scrambles for U.S. dollars

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar fell to a four-year low against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as the greenback broadly rebounded, while a rally in oil was not enough to convince investors to turn more bullish on Canada’s commodity-linked currency.

FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto, January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

At 2:44 p.m. (1844 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.4% lower at 1.3748 to the greenback, or 72.74 U.S. cents. The currency hit its weakest intraday level since Feb. 24, 2016 at 1.3796.

“Today has been all about the (U.S.) dollar,” said Bipan Rai, North America head of FX Strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.

“The move is due to dollar shortage outside of the U.S. As supply chains get disrupted, there is a shortage of dollars,” Rai said.

The gap between Libor and overnight index swaps, a measure of bank funding pressures, was at near 40 basis points for a 3-month term, up from 15 basis points in February.

The greenback rallied 1.6% against a basket of major currencies, recovering from a 17-month low on Monday, while oil prices jumped a day after the biggest rout in nearly 30 years as investors eyed the possibility of economic stimulus.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 were up more than 10% at $34.47 a barrel but that did not impress currency traders after a 25% plunge the day before.

If Saudi Arabia and Russia do not reach a production agreement then the Canadian dollar could be heading toward 1.40, Rai said.

Money market see it as likely the Bank of Canada will cut interest rates by 50 basis points next month, which would match the size of last week’s move, its biggest easing in more than a decade.BOCWATCH

Canadian banks have increased oil and gas lending at about double the rate of total business loan growth over the past three quarters, raising the prospect of higher loan losses after Monday’s oil price crash.

Canadian government bond yields rose but by much less than the increase in U.S. Treasury yields. The 10-year yield was up 2.4 basis points at 0.558%, while the gap between it and its U.S. equivalent moved by 18.5 basis points to a spread of about 15 basis points in favor of the U.S. bond.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy

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