Canadian dollar recovers some ground as oil rallies

FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto, January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar edged higher against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as a rally in oil prices overshadowed domestic data showing a five-year low for inflation, with the loonie recovering from a near three-week low the day before.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, was bolstered by tentative discussions of additional supply cuts from OPEC producers and U.S. inventory builds that were less dire than some anticipated.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1, which crashed on Monday to levels well below zero, settled 19.1% higher at $13.78 a barrel.

“A little bit of positive trading in front crude contracts (has helped the loonie) ... “but over time, I still expect the Canadian dollar to drift lower,” said Mazen Issa, a senior FX strategist at TD Securities.

Issa expects historically low crude prices to curb production in Canada’s oil patch, hurting Canada’s economy, which is already reeling from measures to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.

At 3:13 p.m. (1913 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.2% higher at 1.4181 to the greenback, or 70.52 U.S. cents. The currency, which on Tuesday hit its weakest since April 2 at 1.4263, traded in a range of 1.4115 to 1.4238.

Canada’s annual inflation rate tumbled to 0.9% in March as the coronavirus crisis and an oil supply war slashed gasoline prices, Statistics Canada said. Analysts had forecast a rate of 1.2%.

The Bank of Canada expects inflation to fall to near zero in the second quarter. The central bank has slashed interest rates by 150 basis points since March and has engaged in quantitative easing for the first time, buying government bonds in large scale.

Canadian government bond yields were higher across the curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries, with the 10-year CA10YT=RR up 3.6 basis points at 0.618%.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Peter Cooney