Trump Trade Chief’s Remarks Rattle Mexican Peso, Canadian Dollar

  • Wilbur Ross signals plan to launch Nafta talks quickly
  • Negotiations with Canada and Mexico high on agenda, Ross says

Wilbur Ross: Nafta Logically First Thing to Deal With

The currencies of both Mexico and Canada tumbled after the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s commerce pick said renegotiating Nafta will be a priority.

Mexico’s peso sank to record low and Canada’s dollar posted the biggest slide since June after Wilbur Ross signaled new talks with those countries will begin quickly after Friday’s inauguration. Currencies will still be challenged as “Trump risks to trade don’t appear fully priced in,” Citigroup Inc. analysts including Dirk Willer and Kenneth Lam wrote in a note to clients.

“The idea that this is likely to happen sooner rather than later caught the market offside,” said Alvise Marino, a foreign-exchange strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York. “Everything he said tends to confirm fears that a Nafta repeal as early as next week is a distinct possibility,” he said.

The loonie has rallied this year, part of a broad-based surge against the U.S. dollar, which has wilted amid a revaluation of growth prospects under a new administration. Still, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz flagged Trump uncertainty as a factor in saying a rate cut is still a possibility. Meanwhile, the peso has led losses among major currencies amid concern trade with U.S. will fizzle as the nation accounts for 80 percent of the Latin American country’s exports.

The Mexican peso fell 2 percent to trade at 21.9544 per dollar on Wednesday, while the Canadian dollar dropped 1.7 percent to trade at 1.3269 per dollar.

Ross’s comments not only signal the trade agreement will be changed, they leave foreign-exchange markets struggling to price in the potential impact of such an action, said Andres Jaime, a currency and rates strategist at Barclays Plc in New York.

“The important question is: how much is already priced in?,” he said. “Nobody knows at this stage.”

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