Canadian Dollar to Rise as Ahead of GDP Report, Rate Decision
Fundamental Forecast for Canadian Dollar: Bullish
The Canadian Dollar’s exchange rate to its US namesake remains closely correlated with the S&P 500. The relationship makes sense. Broadly speaking, the benchmark stock index represents investors’ collective earnings outlook for the world’s top companies, making it a de-facto proxy for global economic growth. Meanwhile, Canadian economic growth (and thereby the path of its monetary policy as well as the currency) is firmly anchored to trends in US demand considering some 80 percent of the country’s wares are exported to its southern neighbor. The US being the world’s top economy, the trajectory of its growth and the globe at large are closely parallel, explaining the link between USDCAD and the S&P 500.
Since the beginning of the month, this has translated into losses for the Canadian currency as traders began to unwind bets on stocks going higher ahead of the expiration of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 monetary stimulus program. The logic here was two-fold. From a short-term perspective, QE2 flooded the markets with money to bring down interest rates and traders capitalized by borrowing US Dollars on the cheap to invest them into higher-return assets (including stocks, commodities, etc). Speculative bets are not mortgages, and investors rarely lock in interest rates for extended periods of time to maintain flexibility; this means that as QE2 ends and borrowing costs begin to rise, investors will be faced with the reality that maintaining their USD-funded trades will become increasingly expensive. Knowing this would likely be the case, markets began to unwind QE2-dependent positions, bringing shares and correlated currencies – CAD included – along for the ride. From a longer term respective, higher borrowing costs will weigh on economic growth as individuals and companies find it more expensive to consume or invest on credit, slowing the recovery and trimming the earnings outlook for S&P 500 companies to pressure the index as well as the Canadian unit lower.
The coming week promises to see trading dynamics change a bit, bringing the near-term outlook for Canadian interest rates back to the forefront as a slew of top-tier domestic economic data prepares to be released. First, Gross Domestic Product figures are set to show the economy grew at an annual pace of 4 percent in the first quarter, yielding its best performance in a year. The following day, the Bank of Canada will convene for its monthly monetary policy meeting. While traders are pricing in no chance of a rate increase, it is worth noting Canada now boasts the most robust rate hike outlook for the year ahead. This is the case despite BOC Governor Mark Carney’s protestations against early tightening amid concerns that such action would bid up the exchange rate and crush exports. This suggests traders are clearly unconvinced that rate hikes are not a near-term prospect and will be closely monitoring the language of the release, with the currency likely to find its way higher ahead of both releases as traders anticipate supportive outcomes.
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