Canadian dollar weakens as oil falls, greenback climbs

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as prices of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, fell and the greenback climbed against a basket of major currencies.

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

The U.S. dollar .DXY posted broad gains as foreign exchange markets swung back to bets on improving growth and tighter monetary policy. The pickup in investor sentiment has been bolstered by historically low U.S. stock market volatility and last weekend's French presidential election result.

U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled 55 cents lower at $45.88 a barrel, pressured by a rising greenback and increasing U.S. crude output that has shaken investors' faith in the ability of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to rebalance the market.

“Absent any meaningful Canadian dollar data this week we are likely to see the Canadian dollar take its direction from oil prices and broader commodity prices in general, as well as the U.S. dollar,” said Scott Smith, chief market strategist at Viewpoint Investment Partners.

“One of the continued risks for the Canadian dollar is that we see the U.S. dollar recover from its recent bout of softness.”

At 4 p.m. EDT, the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.3728 to the greenback, or 72.84 U.S. cents, down 0.3 percent, according to Reuters data.

The currency traded in a range of C$1.3671 to C$1.3753.

The loonie hit a 14-year low on Friday at C$1.3793. It has been pressured recently by lower commodity prices, concerns about a possible North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation and investor wariness about how troubles at alternative lender Home Capital Group Inc HCG.TO could affect Canada's real estate market.

Home Capital said on Tuesday an unnamed third party intends to buy up to C$1.50 billion in mortgages, as Canada’s biggest non-bank lender attempts to halt customer withdrawals.

Data on Tuesday showed the value of domestic building permits tumbled 5.8 percent in March from February.

British Columbians head to the polls after a tight race between the ruling right-of-center Liberal Party and the opposition left-leaning New Democratic Party. A loss for the Liberals could derail big oil and gas projects in the province.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The two-year CA2YT=RR fell 2.5 Canadian cents to yield 0.722 percent and the 10-year CA10YT=RR declined 29 Canadian cents to yield 1.621 percent.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli