Canadian Dollar Falls to 11-Year Low as Oil Economy Falls Apart

  • Currency falls against most majors as OPEC ends output limits
  • Loonie has already weakened 15 percent in the past 12 months

The Canadian dollar dropped to the weakest level in more than 11 years on speculation the nation’s oil-dependent economy will suffer from a global crude glut.

The currency weakened against most of its major peers as crude oil prices fell below $40 after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries effectively abandoned its long-time strategy of limiting production to control prices after a meeting on Dec. 4. Data showed last week Canada’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose last month, and the merchandise trade deficit widened more than forecast.

The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known for the image of the aquatic bird on the C$1 coin, fell 1 percent to C$1.3499 per U.S. dollar at 5 p.m. in Toronto. One loonie buys 74.08 U.S. cents.

"The catalyst to push it to a new high in USD-CAD today has been the slide in crude oil," said George Davis, chief fixed-income technical analyst at Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Dominion Securities unit in Toronto. "The uptrend in dollar-Canada has been very solid, with the market preferring to buy dips."

The currency is down 15 percent from a year ago as crude oil -- until this year the country’s biggest export -- is down about 40 percent. While the Bank of Canada reiterated confidence this month that the currency’s depreciation helps non-commodity exporters, economists in a Bloomberg survey forecasts policy makers will have to keep cutting rates
to boost the economy.

The loonie will weaken to C$1.35 at the beginning of next year and trade at C$1.34 by year-end, according to the median forecast in the Bloomberg survey.

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