TORONTO – The Canadian dollar advanced Friday amid rising commodity prices, with traders inclined to take on more risk as G20 finance ministers and central bankers started a two-day meeting in Paris.
The loonie ran up 0.5 of a cent to 98.57 cents US, also supported by strong economic data in Canada and the United States.
Among the topics expected to be addressed at the G20 meeting are the recapitalization of banks that hold risky debt, a way to lower Greece’s debt burden and measures to stimulate the world economy.
“Expectations are high for some type of co-ordinated action,” said Mark Chandler, head of Canada FIC Strategy at RBC Dominion Securities Inc.
“Though we would tend to minimize expectations as many of these meetings/summits/get-togethers have thus far underwhelmed in terms of action.”
Financial markets have been somewhat calmer this week amid signs that European leaders are working on a comprehensive plan to ensure that the region’s banks can withstand a default by a heavily indebted country such as Greece.
The meeting takes place against a background of some ratings agency downgrades on Thursday.
Standard & Poor cut Spain’s long-term debt rating, citing the country’s weak growth prospects and risks facing its banks.
And Fitch downgraded its outlook for three European banks and said it was reviewing ratings for a host of others, citing ongoing exposure to sovereign-debt in Europe’s weaker economies and sluggish growth prospects.
The loonie was also supported by data showing that Canadian manufacturing sales were up sharply in August.
Statistics Canada says sales rose by 1.4 per cent to $47.6 billion, which was the highest level since October 2008.
Economists had expected a gain of 0.5 per cent.
The agency says the gains were concentrated in the transportation equipment, food, and petroleum and coal product industries.
Traders also took in U.S. retail sales data that beat expectations. Retail sales increased 1.1 per cent in September, the largest gain in seven months and led by rising auto sales. Economists had expected a gain of 0.8 per cent.
Oil prices moved higher with the November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange ahead $2.04 to US$86.27 a barrel.
Crude has wandered most of this week in the mid-US$80s after jumping from US$75 last week amid investor optimism Europe will soon unveil a plan to contain its debt crisis.
Copper prices also advanced with the December contract on the Nymex up nine cents at US$3.40 a pound.
Bullion prices were higher as the December gold contract in New York gained $4.50 to US$1,673 an ounce.