Canadian dollar gains as NAFTA fears abate; oil slips

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar on Monday, as an advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump said Canada has a “very special status” and is unlikely to be hard hit by any changes to the NAFTA trade accord.

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

Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday and has threatened to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement -- signed in 1994 by the United States, Canada and Mexico -- if it cannot be retooled to better serve U.S. interests.

“Canada finds itself, frankly, in a really very special status,” Stephen Schwarzman, who heads a business advisory council but holds no formal role in the Trump administration, told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.

The Canadian dollar CAD=D4 settled at C$1.3267 to the greenback, or 75.37 U.S. cents, stronger than Friday's close of C$1.3315, or 75.10 U.S. cents.

“We’re getting a more, dare I say, agreeable Trump administration that is leaning towards renegotiating NAFTA as opposed to just outright terminating it,” said Bipan Rai, a senior macro strategist at CIBC Capital Markets.

“We do still have the matter of the border tax adjustment, which will be important to keep an eye on going forward,” Rai added.

Trump told U.S. manufacturing executives on Monday that he would impose a hefty border tax on firms that import products into the United States after moving American factories overseas.

Canada sends more than 75 percent of its exports to the United States, and the Bank of Canada warned last week there would be “material consequences” if Trump enacts protectionist policies as it left the door open to an interest rate cut.

Prices of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, fell as signs of a strong recovery in U.S. drilling activity outweighed news that Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers were on track to meet output reduction goals set in December. [O/R]

The pace of Canadian wholesale trade cooled more than expected in November amid declines in the motor vehicle and parts sector, data from Statistics Canada showed.

The soft figures came after strong October growth, which was revised up to 1.3 percent from the previously reported 1.1 percent.

Canadian government bond prices rose across the yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR up 4 Canadian cents to yield 0.752 percent and the 10-year CA10YT=RR rising 59 Canadian cents to yield 1.681 percent.

Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler