May 29, 2009 / 6:38 PM / 8 years ago

Flaherty says rapid rise of dollar a concern

TORONTO (Reuters) - A rally in the Canadian dollar that took the currency to a seven-month high on Friday is being watched with concern, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.

<p>Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks to journalists in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 26, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

“We’re always concerned when there are fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, and it has been relatively rapid in the past few weeks, and I know that the governor of the Bank of Canada is monitoring that as it’s his job,” he told reporters in Toronto.

The Canadian dollar edged lower following Flaherty’s comments, weakening to as low as C$1.0937, or 91.43 U.S. cents, from around C$1.0910, or 91.66 U.S. cents just before. But it quickly recovered back to the earlier level.

The currency’s flight is expected to be a challenge for the country’s exporters, and some fear a move to parity with the U.S. dollar could delay or hinder Canada’s economic recovery

Analysts say the dollar’s rapid rise from four-year lows in early March is only partly explained by higher commodity prices and that an investor retreat from the greenback amid signs the worst of the global recession is over is also a factor.

<p>Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks to reporters after making an arts funding announcement in Toronto, May 29, 2009. Flaherty said that a rally in the Canadian dollar that took the currency to a seven-month high is being watched with concern. REUTERS/Peter Jones</p>

Flaherty announced this week that he expects a budget deficit of over C$50 billion in 2009-10, up from an earlier estimate of C$33.7 billion.

Analysts have speculated that at least half of the additional C$16 billion may be explained by the government’s planned auto bailout. Flaherty refused to comment on that when asked on Friday.

“We’ll see as the (General Motors) discussions conclude in New York,” Flaherty told reporters. “I hope an agreement is reached. An agreement has not been reached yet.”

He said the federal government and provincial government of Ontario remain committed to preserving Canada’s 20 percent share of North American auto production.

($1=$1.09 Canadian)

Writing by Louise Egan; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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