Canadian dollar pares weekly loss as Ottawa helps energy sector

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, with the currency clawing back some of this week’s decline as risk appetite rose and the federal government offered C$2.5 billion in support for the hard-hit oil and gas industry.

FILE PHOTO: A man holds the new Canadian 100 dollar bill made of polymer in Toronto November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

World stock markets .WORLD rose after U.S. President Donald Trump laid out plans to gradually reopen the coronavirus-hit American economy following similar moves elsewhere.

Canada sends about 75% of its exports to the United States.

The loonie followed “other major currencies stronger against the U.S. dollar in a risk-on move,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions.

“Sentiment was also no doubt helped by the announcement of further support from Ottawa for small and medium-sized businesses,” Goshko said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa was working with the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to expand credit support for at-risk medium-sized energy firms.

At 3:43 p.m. (1943 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.3% higher at 1.4035 to the greenback, or 71.25 U.S. cents. The currency, which on Thursday hit its weakest intraday level since April 6 at 1.4180, traded in a range of 1.4005 to 1.4118.

For the week, the loonie was down 1%.

Speculators have trimmed their bearish bets on the Canadian dollar, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 14, net short positions had fallen to 23,760 contracts from 24,433 in the prior week.

Once the coronavirus outbreak is over it could take the Canadian economy a couple of years to make up the lost ground caused by business and industry shutdowns, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said on Thursday.

The Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates by 150 basis points since March and begun buying Canadian government bonds. On Wednesday, the central bank said it would broaden its asset-purchase, or quantitative easing, program to include provincial and corporate debt.

Canada’s economy could be hit particularly hard because it is a major producer of oil, which has collapsed since January.

Oil prices were mixed on Friday, with weak Chinese economic figures and rapidly filling U.S. crude storage offsetting outlines for the U.S. economy to emerge from the shutdown.

Canadian government bond yields rose across the curve, with the 10-year CA10YT=RR up 2.1 basis points at 0.636%. Still, the 10-year yield was down more than 14 basis points for the week.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell