Loonie rises to 11-day high on hopes virus impact will fade

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened on Friday against its U.S. counterpart, adding to this week’s gains as investors speculated that the coronavirus outbreak would not cause long-lasting damage to the global economy.

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

At 3:10 p.m. (2010 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.1% higher at 1.3249 to the greenback, or 75.48 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest intraday level since Feb. 3 at 1.3236.

For the week, the loonie was up 0.4%.

“The broader markets are still believing that China has got this (the spread of the coronavirus) under control,” said Erik Bregar, head of FX strategy at the Exchange Bank of Canada. “It has created a mild risk-on environment and that benefits the Canadian dollar.”

Canada is a major exporter of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to be sensitive to prospects for global economic growth.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 1.2% higher at $52.05 a barrel as investors bet the economic impact of the virus would be short-lived and hoped for further Chinese central bank stimulus to tackle any slowdown.

Canadian home sales fell 2.9% in January from the previous month but were up 11.5%, not seasonally adjusted, compared to January 2019, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

Canada’s Liberal government said it was deeply concerned about protests by aboriginal activists that are blocking some key railway lines but rejected a call to send in the police.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries after a mixed U.S. retail sales report for January. The 10-year yield fell 3.1 basis points to 1.363%.

Canadian markets will be closed on Monday for the Family Day holiday.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by David Gregorio; Editing by Marguerita Choy