October 27, 2008 / 1:59 PM / in 9 years

Loonie at lowest level in four years

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar closed at its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in more than four years on Monday as uncertainty about the global economy weighed on the commodity-linked currency.

<p>Canadian currency in the form of one dollar coins, otherwise known as loonies, are displayed in this posed photograph in Toronto, October 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

Bond prices finished mostly higher as investors opted for more secure government debt as equity prices tumbled and global recession fears deepened.

The Canadian dollar closed at C$1.2889 to the U.S. dollar, or 77.58 U.S. cents, down 1 percent from C$1.2729 to the U.S. dollar, or 78.56 U.S. cents, at Friday’s close.

Just after midday, the currency fell to C$1.2930 to the U.S. dollar, or 77.09 U.S. cents, its lowest level since September 2004.

The Canadian currency has fallen 17 percent in October as the global financial crisis has become more severe. Any small gains it has recorded have almost always been followed by drops.

The continued slide in the Canadian dollar has been pegged to a slew of factors that have included lower prices for the commodities that Canada exports, tumbling equity markets and the uncertain economic environment.

Adding to the drag was a selloff of many currencies versus the U.S. dollar as people were forced out of long positions, leaving the Canadian dollar to take the brunt of the selloff.

“A lot of people were probably overweight Canada or holding long Canadian dollar positions and I think we are still seeing an exodus from those positions,” said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital.

“It just seems like the market is bailing out of Canada ... it’s going to take a long time to work our way through all this before we can safely say it’s over.”

With no Canadian economic data due until later in the week, the currency’s direction until then will likely be dictated by overall market sentiment.

The Canadian industrial product price index and the raw materials price index for September are due out on Thursday, followed by Friday’s gross domestic product report for August.

BOND PRICES MIXED

Canadian bond prices rallied on the short end of the curve as investors shed stocks and other risky assets for debt ahead of an expected rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index closed more than 8 percent lower in a slide led by the heavyweight energy group.

“There’s not a lot of liquidity out there right now as we’re getting into the month end and everyone is just seeking safety,” said Sheldon Dong, fixed income analyst at TD Waterhouse Private Investment.

“So bonds are up just in reaction to the weak equity market on the TSX and still there’s a bit of a safety bid with all of the uncertainty out there.”

The two-year bond rose 6 Canadian cents to C$101.38 to yield 2.072 percent. The 10-year bond increased 16 Canadian cents to C$105.09 to yield 3.616 percent.

The yield spread between the two-year and the 10-year bond moved to 164 basis points from 160 at the previous close.

The 30-year bond dipped 5 Canadian cents to C$114.55 to yield 4.128 percent. In the United States, the 30-year Treasury yielded 4.070 percent.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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