* Canadian dollar at C$1.0901 or 91.73 U.S. cents
* Canadian economy loses 45,900 jobs in Dec
* Bond prices higher across the maturity curve
By Andrea Hopkins
TORONTO, Jan 10 The Canadian dollar hit a
four-year low against the greenback on Friday after data showed
the country unexpectedly shed jobs last month, adding to
concerns about the economy's sluggish performance and capping a
dismal week for the currency.
The grim jobs report sent the loonie through the
psychologically important C$1.09 level that analysts had thought
could provide support.
While the Canadian dollar had been widely expected to weaken
in 2014 as U.S. economic growth outpaces that in Canada, the
currency lost as much ground this week as analysts had expected
it to lose in the next 12 months.
"We haven't made any fundamental changes to our year-end
outlook, which is C$1.10, so what you have to wonder is how much
it is going to overshoot in the near term and how much weakness
is real," said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income and
currency strategy at Royal Bank of Canada.
"Currency markets love to overshoot."
The currency fell in every session this week as the U.S.
dollar gained more than 2 cents on the Canadian dollar, to 91.73
U.S. cents at Friday's close from 94.06 U.S. cents one week
Canada's economy lost 45,900 jobs in December and the
unemployment rate rose in a surprising setback. At the same
time, labor market data south of the border also disappointed as
U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years.
"For the Canadian dollar, very weak employment data - just
like the trade data did on Tuesday - it just highlights some of
the biggest concerns for the Canadian dollar, which is the
economy not recovering to the extent that many had hoped," said
Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in
Analysts said the data will likely prompt the Bank of Canada
to maintain a dovish stance. The central bank's policy shift
late last year has dragged the loonie down as investors
anticipate rates will stay low for longer.
"For the Bank of Canada, when you look at wages,
decelerating down to 2 percent pretty much reaffirms the bias
that the Bank has about the low inflation backdrop, so that
dovish tone from the Bank of Canada should persist," said Mazen
Issa, macro strategist at TD Securities in Toronto.
The Canadian dollar ended the North American
session at C$1.0901 to the greenback, or 91.73 U.S. cents,
weaker than Thursday's close of C$1.0852, or 92.15 U.S. cents.
The loonie hit a session low of C$1.0946, its weakest level
since October 2009.
After the Canadian dollar suffered its worst year in 2013
since the financial crisis, investors have returned to 2014
expecting the currency to fall further out of favor.
RBC's Chandler said that while much of the weakness is
Canada's own doing, traders have overlooked some factors that
could justify a stronger loonie.
"The market has shrugged off commodity prices that have held
up reasonably well through all this, and the notion that a good
U.S. economy is good for Canada as well has gotten lost in the
shuffle. For now we've seen weaker statistics dominate,"
The next level to watch for the U.S. dollar-Canadian dollar
pairing will be C$1.10, Sutton said.
"All in all, I think it's a story where U.S. dollar-Canadian
dollar is likely to move higher over the next six months."
Canadian government bond prices were higher across the
maturity curve, with the two-year up 16.5 Canadian
cents to yield 1.018 percent and the benchmark 10-year
up C$1.00 to yield 2.559 percent.