April 1, 2020 / 1:36 PM / 4 months ago

CANADA FX DEBT-Loonie extends first-quarter decline as virus fears weigh

    * Canadian dollar falls 1.1% against the greenback
    * Loonie trades in a range of 1.4065 to 1.4272
    * Price of U.S. oil decreases 0.2%
    * Canadian bond yields fall across a flatter curve

    TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened
against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, adding to a sharp
first-quarter decline, as the economic threat of the spreading
coronavirus pandemic weighed on global financial markets.
    Canada runs a current account deficit and is a major
exporter of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to
be sensitive to the flow of global trade and capital.
    U.S. stock index futures sank as stark predictions of a rise
in the U.S. death toll from the virus and worsening economic
damage from the coronavirus pandemic led investors to ditch
equities for safe-haven assets.             
    U.S. crude oil futures        were down 0.2% at $20.43 a
barrel, trading near their lowest in 18 years, as a report
showing a big rise in U.S. inventories and a widening rift
within OPEC heightened oversupply concerns.             
    At 9:11 a.m. (1311 GMT), the Canadian dollar          was
trading 1.1% lower at 1.4226 to the greenback, or 70.29 U.S.
cents. The currency traded in a range of 1.4065 to 1.4272.
    In March, the loonie declined 4.7%, while it was down 7.6%
for the first quarter.
    Canada's death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped by
35% to 89 in less than a day, officials said on Tuesday, and the
major province of Quebec said it was running low on key medical
equipment.             
    In an effort to support the economy during the pandemic, the
Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates to 0.25% and plans to
engage in large-scale asset purchases, quantitative easing,
while Ottawa has announced C$95 billion in aid.
                        
    Canadian government bond yields fell across a flatter curve,
with the 10-year             down 8.6 basis points at 0.609%.
Last month, the 10-year yield hit a record low at 0.233%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
  
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