The Canadian Dollar began last Monday around USD/CAD1.2430 but as the week progressed and the USD was persistently well-bid, so USD/CAD moved sequentially higher. On both Thursday and Friday, it briefly broke through the upper end of its 2018 trading range from the mid 1.22’s to the high 1.25’s but settled back by the New York close despite a near-10% weekly drop in crude oil prices which has taken WTI down from a recent high of $66.50 per barrel on January 25th to just under $60 today.
Over the weekend, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau finished a 3-day trip to Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles as he attempts to win support from US lawmakers and businesses to keep Trump from pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As reported by Bloomberg, Trudeau spoke on Friday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, where he hailed Canada-US ties. He recalled meeting Reagan when Trudeau’s own father, Pierre, was Canada’s prime minister. “I’d just received a master’s class in political charisma, and one I like to think kind of stuck,” he said. In Los Angeles he said he didn’t “think anyone can now entirely predict or understand” the impacts on the three countries if NAFTA were to end. “This accord should and can be modernized and updated, with effort, hard work and willingness to compromise on all sides, this is eminently achievable. If trade between Canada and the US is a bad idea, then there are no good ideas.”
Last week’s major economic news in Canada was Friday’s employment report where consensus looked for a 10k rise after a 78k gain in December. Instead, Stats Canada reported employment fell by 88,000 in January. Part-time employment declined (-137,000), while full-time employment was up (+49,000). At the same time, the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9%. On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 289,000 or 1.6%. Gains were driven by increases in full-time work (+414,000 or +2.8%), while there were fewer people working part time (-125,000 or -3.5%). USD/CAD surged to the mid 1.26’s when the numbers were announced as computer-driven algorithms responded to the headlines but within a few minutes, nearly all the gains had evaporated when it was realized that all the job losses were in part-time and seasonal employment. The 1.25 area now seems a comfortable place for USD/CAD, with one Canadian Dollar worth 80 US cents.