USD/CAD has posted gains in Wednesday session, erasing much of the losses seen on Tuesday. Currently, USD/CAD is trading at 1.2927, up 0.40% on the day. On the release front, today’s key event is ADP nonfarm payrolls, which is expected to drop sharply to 199 thousand. In Canada, the trade deficit is expected to narrow to C$2.5 billion. As well, the Bank of Canada will set the benchmark rate, which is expected to remain pegged at 1.25%.
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise rate four times in 2018, but the Bank of Canada will likely be unable to compete with that kind of pace. The BoC is concerned with economic growth, which slowed in the fourth quarter, as well as uncertainty over NAFTA, which could fall apart if the Trump administration makes good on its threat to withdraw if its demands for more favorable treatment for US goods is not met. The Bank is not expected to raise rates before May, and if the Fed outpaces the BoC on the rate front, the Canadian dollar could lose ground to a more attractive US currency.
The Canadian government is seeing red after President Trump has threatened to impose stiff tariffs on Canadian steel imports. Canada is the top exporter of steel to the US, accounting for some 16% of US steel imports. The “tariff tussle” could prove to be a major irritant in US-Canada relations, and has weakened the Canadian dollar, as USD/CAD broke above the 1.30 line on Monday, for the first time since late June. Trump is facing strong opposition to the move from Republican lawmakers, and has held out a carrot to Mexico and Canada – if a new NAFTA deal is reached, both countries would be exempted from the tariffs. Canada’s steel industry is a crucial backbone of the economy, and if the US does slap on the tariffs, it could ignite a trade war with Canada and other US trading partners.