October 6, 2009 / 3:44 AM / in 8 years

Loonie jumps to highest level in a year

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar rose to its highest level in a year against the U.S. currency on Tuesday morning thanks to soaring commodity and equity prices and after Australia’s central bank raised its key cash rate.

The Canadian currency touched a high of C$1.0564 to the U.S. dollar, or 94.66 U.S. cents, its highest level since October 1, 2008, on a string of factors set off by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision, making it the first of the Group of 20 central banks to raise interest rates as the global financial crisis eases.

“We’ve had a perfect storm this morning for the Canadian dollar,” said Camilla Sutton, currency strategist at Scotia Capital.

“If Australia is now viewing their market and the Asian market as growth returning to trend, that’s positive for commodities. That, by default, would be positive for Canada.”

The rate hike set off speculation on which central bank may raise rates next. Scotia Capital economists said the possibility of Canada following sooner than expected is “precisely nil” in their view.

The Bank of Canada earlier this year chopped its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent and pledged to keep it there until at least the middle of 2010, assuming inflation remains tame.

The Canadian dollar’s move higher was supported by soaring commodity prices, with oil, a major Canadian export, rising above $71 a barrel, while gold hit a record high above $1,040 an ounce. The currency’s moves are often influenced by prices for the two commodities.

As well, higher stock markets, typically a gauge of investors’ willingness to take on risk, also supported the currency.

At 10:57 a.m. EDT, the currency was at C$1.0571 to the U.S. dollar, or 94.60 U.S. cents, up from C$1.0701 to the U.S. dollar, or 93.45 U.S. cents, at Monday’s close.

A strong reading from Canada’s September Ivey Purchasing Managers Index also helped boost investor sentiment, added Sutton.

The next key technical level the market will be watching for is C$1.0300 to the U.S. dollar, a mark not seen since last September, she said. The currency hit C$1.0298 in September of last year.


Canadian bond prices were lower across the curve as money flowed to higher-yielding equities. The market also following the big U.S. Treasury market where debt prices eased as the market braced for a $39 billion bond auction later in the day.

The two-year bond was down 13 Canadian cents at C$99.55 to yield 1.244 percent, while the 10-year bond sank 43 Canadian cents to C$103.77 to yield 3.290 percent.

The 30-year bond was down 65 Canadian cents at C$119.60 to yield 3.842 percent. South of the border, the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yielded 4.0534 percent.

Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson

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