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Canadian Dollar Under Pressure, Housing Starts Next

The Canadian dollar has posted small losses in the Wednesday session. Currently, the pair is trading at 1.2590, up 0.17% on the day. Canada will release Housing Starts, while the US publishes unemployment claims. On Friday, Canada releases key employment data – Employment Change and the unemployment rate.

The US dollar has posted broad gains this week, boosted by strong volatility in the stock markets. On Monday, the Dow Jones posted its biggest one-day loss, and US markets have pointed downwards for much of the week. The catalyst for the stock market slide is concern that inflation could rise in the US, which in turn would trigger additional rate hikes from the Fed. This would make the US dollar more attractive against other currencies. With investor risk appetite sharply lower, the Canadian dollar is under strong pressure. Earlier in the day, USD/CAD touched a high of 1.2598, its highest level since late December.

Canadian indicators disappointed on Tuesday. Canada’s trade deficit widened from C$2.5 billion to C$3.2 billion, well above the estimate of C$2.3 billion. The export sector has been steady, but uncertainty over NAFTA is a dark cloud over the economy, and exports could suffer if the trilateral free trade pact is not renewed. The US has threatened to leave the pact if the Canada and Mexico do not agree to major concessions, such as increasing the percentage of US content in auto parts produced under NAFTA. Elsewhere, Canadian Ivey PMI continues to point to expansion, but slowed to 55.2, down from 60.4 in the previous release. This was well off the forecast of 60.7 points.

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