Canadian dollar sinks on expanding deficit

The Loonie has lost ground against all its commonly-traded peers today, after data showed a surprise widening in Canada’s trade deficit in November.

The Canadian dollar weakened to a three-year low against its US counterpart today after Canada’s merchandise trade deficit increased to C$940 million from C$908 million in October. October’s figures had originally been reported as a $75 million surplus, while economists had forecast a deficit of only $900 million for November.

This was in contrast to the US, where the November trade balance narrowed to a four-year low. By mid-afternoon in New York, USD/CAD had risen 0.94% to 1.0755, while sterling gained 0.98% against the Loonie.

One of the driving factors behind the shrinking US trade gap was lower imports of oil, which fell to its lowest level in three years. Oil is Canada’s biggest export, while the US is its largest trading partner.

Also weighing on the Canadian dollar today was the Ivey PMI for December, which fell to 40.2 from a reading of 48.2 in the month prior, which suggests that not only is business activity in contractionary territory, but it appears to be slowing.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in an interview earlier this week that a weaker Canadian dollar helps the nation’s manufacturers.

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