Canadian dollar nears seven-week low as oil prices fall

A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto, January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS)

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as oil prices fell and investors awaited a Federal Reserve interest rate decision, with the loonie nearing a multiweek low it hit the previous day.

The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, has been pressured in recent days by concern that China's coronavirus outbreak could hurt the global economy, weakening demand. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 fell 0.7% to $53.12 a barrel.

The Fed is not expected to change interest rates when it gives its decision at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT), but investors will want to hear whether the U.S. central bank’s chairman, Jerome Powell, retains his cautiously upbeat language.

At 10:03 a.m. (1503 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.3% lower at 1.3191 to the greenback, or 75.81 U.S. cents. The currency, which on Tuesday hit a near seven-week low at 1.3206, traded in a range of 1.3156 to 1.3195.

U.S. President Donald Trump will sign a new North American trade agreement on Wednesday in a ceremony at the White House. Canada sends about 75% of its exports to the United States.

Canada’s gross domestic product data for November is due on Friday, which could help guide expectations for a Bank of Canada interest rate cut.

Last week, the central bank left its benchmark interest rate steady at 1.75%, as expected, but said a future cut was possible should a recent slowdown in domestic growth persist.

Canadian government bond yields fell across a flatter yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year yield, which on Tuesday hit a near four-month low intraday at 1.283%, was down 3.5 basis points at 1.340%.

Reporting by Fergal Smith and Jonathan Oatis