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Canadian Dollar Faces Conflicting Cues from BOC, Key US Data

Fundamental Forecast for Canadian Dollar: Neutral

  • Canadian Dollar May Extend Advance on a Hawkish BOC Tone Shift
  • Upbeat US Data May Fuel Fed Rate Hike Bets, Undermining Loonie
  • Help Identify Critical Turning Points for USD/CAD with DailyFX SSI

Last week marked an important turning point for the Canadian Dollar, with prices reversing sharply higher after hitting the weakest level in almost four months near 1.10 against the currency’s US counterpart. The surge gathered momentum after US-based Burger King Worldwide Inc said it will buy Canada’s Tim Hortons Inc for US$11 billion, implying on-coming M&A capital flows favoring the Loonie in the pipeline. The deal’s supportive implications appeared to run deeper however. The news-wires narrative framed the transaction as a poster-child for a broader “inversion” trend, wherein US firms re-domicile abroad to take advantage of favorable tax policies.

While the latest price action demonstrates that M&A considerations are to be respected, their ability to fuel continued Canadian Dollar gains without support from baseline fundamentals seems inherently limited. With that in mind, the outcome of next week’s Bank of Canada (BOC) monetary policy announcement stands out as critical, with the outcome likely to prove formative for the Loonie’s direction in the near term. The last policy announcement in mid-July leaned on the dovish side of the spectrum, with the bank trimming its outlook for growth and establishing a longer timeline for the economy to reach full capacity. A building mound of evidence suggests Governor Steven Poloz and company may opt for a different approach this time around.

As if by design, Canadian economic news-flow began to dramatically improve relative to consensus forecasts on the very same day as the BOC issued July’s policy statement, with a Citigroup gauge showing realized data outcomes are outperforming expectations by the widest margin in 14 months. External developments have likewise proved supportive. July’s announcement stressed that Canada’s recovery “hinges critically on stronger exports”. This underscored the vital significance of a pickup in US demand, which accounts for close to 80 percent of cross-border sales. On this front, the landscape looks far rosier today than it did six weeks ago, with a run of supportive US releases suggesting the world’s largest economy is truly on the mend after a dismal first quarter. The Canadian Dollar may find a potent upside catalyst if these considerations bleed into the tone of the statement accompanying the BOC rate decision.

Looking beyond home-grown factors to macro-level considerations, the key theme still in play is the length of the expected time gap between the end of the Federal Reserve’s “QE3” stimulus effort in October and the first subsequent interest rate hike. Next week’s calendar offers plenty of inflection points to drive speculation. Manufacturing and service-sector ISM readings, the Fed’s Beige Book survey of regional economic conditions and the obsessively monitored Employment report headline scheduled event risk. Persisting strength in US data outcomes is likely to drive speculation that the FOMC will not wait very long before beginning to actively withdraw stimulus. If this triggers a one-sided surge in the US Dollar against its leading counterparts, the Loonie is unlikely to go unscathed.