Canadian dollar pares weekly gain on 'dire' COVID-19 predictions

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 (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS)

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar edged lower against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, giving back some of this week’s advance, as a gloomy projection for domestic COVID-19 cases overshadowed higher oil prices and a bigger-than-expected increase in retail sales.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.2% lower at 1.3091 to the greenback, or 76.39 U.S. cents, having traded in a range of 1.3039 to 1.3096. For the week, the loonie was up 0.3%.

Canada’s chief public health officer predicted new daily coronavirus cases could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year from fewer than 5,000 now. With a second wave ripping across the country, several of Canada’s provinces have been forced to reimpose restrictions on movement and businesses.

“Dire COVID headlines in Canada overwhelmed good news on September retail sales and stronger commodities prices,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions.

The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, was buoyed by successful COVID-19 vaccine trials, while renewed lockdowns in several countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus capped gains. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled nearly 1% higher at $42.15 a barrel.

Canadian retail sales grew by 1.1% in September on higher sales at general merchandise stores, Statistics Canada said. That surpassed the 0.2% gain economists expected.

The data “crushed expectations” but lockdowns could temper growth prospects in the near term, Goshko said.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a flatter curve. The 10-year CA10YT=RR eased 1.6 basis points to hit its lowest level since Nov. 9 at 0.659%.

On Thursday, ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service affirmed Canada’s triple-A rating, saying the risk of a material, long-lasting deterioration to Canada’s economic or fiscal strength from the coronavirus crisis is low.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski