USD/CAD continues to head lower in the Friday session. Currently, the pair is trading at 1.3420. On the release front, there are no Canadian releases on the schedule. In the US, today’s highlight is ISM Manufacturing PMI, which is forecast to remain unchanged at 56.5 points. The markets will be listening closely as four FOMC members deliver remarks on Friday, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
It’s been a week to forget for the Canadian dollar this week, as USD/CAD has gained 2.2 percent. The pair has punched above the 1.34 line, as the Canadian dollar has slipped to its lowest level since January 4. Market sentiment continues to heat up regarding a Fed rate hike. Federal Reserve policymakers continue to sound hawkish about a rate move on March 15, when the Fed next meets for a policy meeting. Earlier in the week, FOMC members William Dudley and John Williams both hinted at an imminent hike by the Fed. Dudley said the case for a hike is compelling, while Williams noted that a rate increase will be up for "serious consideration" at the March policy meeting. The markets are taking these statements at face value, as the odds of a March move have increased dramatically. The likelihood of a rate move has soared to 80%, compared to 33% just a few days ago. Why the huge jump in odds? One reason is that policymakers are now saying they don’t plan to wait for Donald Trump to outline tax reform or other economic packages before making a monetary move. This is a significant departure from a few weeks ago, when the Fed sent out signals that it would stay on the sidelines until it had a clearer picture of the economic stance of the new administration.
There were no surprises from the Bank of Canada this week, which held rates at 0.50%, where they have been pegged since July 2015. However, the rate statement expressed concern, stating that the economy faces "significant uncertainties", including a lack of clarity over Donald Trump’s economic agenda. Trump has called for the NAFTA trade agreement to be scrapped, although he has since backtracked and said that he only wanted to "tweak" the provisions that affect Canada-US trade. Still, Trump’s protectionist leanings could hurt the Canadian economy, which sends 80% of its exports to its southern border. Even if NAFTA is left alone, the US could slap import duties on Canadian products, which would have negative ramifications for the Canadian economy.