USD/CAD Canadian Dollar Higher After Stronger 2Q GDP

The Canadian dollar appreciated versus the US dollar on Friday after the monthly gross domestic product (GDP) in May tripled forecasts. The rebound in oil production put Canadian growth at 0.6 percent beating a forecast of 0.2 percent. Annual growth is 4.6 percent, the fastest since the year 2000.

At the same time the Canadian GDP data was released the Bureau of Economic Analysis published the first estimate of US GDP. The American economy grew by 2.6 percent in the second quarter, slightly beating expectations. Consumer spending was strong, but wage growth was a disappointment. No inflationary pressure was again present as it has been on employment reports and consumer prices. The main takeaway form the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement earlier this week was a concern with low inflation that could push back the expected final interest rate hike this year.

The Bank of Canada (BoC) cut twice in 2015 ahead of an anticipated drop in oil prices to offer some support to the economy via a lower currency. With oil prices having achieved some stability following the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers agreeing to limit output and the economy on the mend, the central bank has now begun to remove that stimulus. The strong GDP puts an October rate hike firmly on the table that could drive the CAD higher as it closes the interest rate gap with the USD.

usdcad Canadian dollar graph, July 28, 2017

The USD/CAD lost 0.734 percent in the last 24 hours. The currency is trading at 1.2446 after a strong monthly GDP figure in Canada boosting the loony ahead of the dollar. The US GDP released at the same time met the forecast but the lack of wage growth is putting more pressure on the Fed to rethink its third interest rate hike of the year. The Federal Reserve has already raised interest rates twice in 2017 and is expected to begin shrinking the balance sheet it accumulated from its QE program in the fall.

Political uncertainty has sapped the momentum out of the USD. The rally at the beginning of the year is gone after the debacle that has been the attempts to pass healthcare reform. The Trump administration is now focusing on tax reform, but it remains to be seen if they have the political capital left after a very contentious period to repeal Obamacare. Pro-growth policies were also one of the factors behind the dollar rally earlier in the year, but as they got reprioritized that shift also hurt the greenback against majors. A back to basics approach with tax reform learning the lessons from the failure to pass healthcare policies could end up boosting the dollar before the end of the year.

The loonie continues to gain versus the dollar in a rally that started when the Bank of Canada policy makers made hawkish comments back in June and compounding rhetoric changed market expectations on Canadian monetary policy. The BoC hiked interest rates in July and given the pace of growth could do so again in October. Another 25 basis points would bring the Canadian interest rate to 1 percent, where it sat prior to the 2015 cuts and a significant drop in oil prices.

West Texas Intermediate graph

The price of energy gained 1.242 percent on Friday. West Texas Intermediate is trading at $49.48 as the price of crude continues to rise. Bigger than expected drawdowns for the past three weeks and comments from US producers hinting at less output has driven prices higher. The OPEC and other major producers had so far limited output but with the US, Brazil and Canada out of the agreement the global supply glut was not being drained fast enough.

Citing a cutback in capital expenditure US operations will take a step back. At the same time Saudi Arabia has said that it will cut its production further and warned members of the production cut agreement that compliance will be more stringent to make sure stability returns to oil prices.

Oil has gained 8.41 percent in the last five days as the US dollar retreat has also made crude more expensive. Large financial institutions have cut forecasts for this year to a range around $60 per barrel. The two month high that WTI is currently sitting in is a good start, but not enough to convince investors the levels are sustainable. The biggest risk to oil prices remains the continued support from OPEC and other major producers. Infighting inside the OPEC could escalate and tear the organization apart as Saudi Arabia and Iran could take their ideological disputes a step further.

Market events to watch this week:

Tuesday, August 1
12:30 am AUD Cash Rate
12:30 am AUD RBA Rate Statement
4:30 am GBP Manufacturing PMI
10:00 am USD ISM Manufacturing PMI
6:45 pm NZD Employment Change q/q
Wednesday, August 2
4:30 am GBP Construction PMI
8:15 am USD ADP Non-Farm Employment Change
10:30 am USD Crude Oil Inventories
9:30pm AUD Trade Balance
Thursday, August 3
4:30 am GBP Services PMI
7:00 am GBP BOE Inflation Report
7:00 am GBP MPC Official Bank Rate Votes
7:00 am GBP Monetary Policy Summary
7:00 am GBP Official Bank Rate
7:30 am GBP BOE Gov Carney Speaks
8:30 am USD Unemployment Claims
10:00 am USD ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI
9:30 pm AUD RBA Monetary Policy Statement
9:30 pm AUD Retail Sales m/m
Friday, August 4
8:30 am CAD Employment Change
8:30 am CAD Trade Balance
8:30 am USD Average Hourly Earnings m/m
8:30 am USD Non-Farm Employment Change

*All times EDT
For a complete list of scheduled events in the forex market visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza