Investors have perhaps been persuaded that recent domestic data trends, especially on the trade and employment fronts, spelled better times ahead for the Canadian economy. We think it is important to keep expectations in check, however. Recent job trends have been heavily skewed by exceptionally strong job growth in December and January, which may unwind somewhat in the months ahead.
Trade data has improved, with the late 2016 headline numbers reporting trade surpluses for the first time since 2014, but underlying export volume growth remains weak (-1.1% in the December year). Firmer crude oil prices, reflecting OPEC's production discipline, have helped support the CAD. But scope for additional crude oil gains appears limited for now, we think, and broader trends in commodity prices are tracking a somewhat weaker in the short run at least, with the TR-CRB index easing to its lowest levels since November.
"The policy gap is already at levels that we consider very USD-supportive. We continue to expect USDCAD will reach the 1.40 level through the middle of the year before USD gains moderate again," Scotiabank commented in its latest research report.
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