Canadian dollar slips below 79 cents in trading

The Canadian dollar continued its downward trajectory Thursday, falling to 78 cents at midday before recovering to 79.22 cents US at the close of trading.

Strengthening U.S. dollar and falling oil prices put pressure on loonie

Strengthening U.S. dollar and falling oil prices put pressure on loonie 2:15

The Canadian dollar continued its downward trajectory Thursday, falling to 78 cents at midday before recovering to 79.22 cents US at the close of trading.

It closed yesterday below 80 cents for the first time since 2009.

The loonie was at 78.94 cents US at midday, but bounced up in the afternoon. That's still down from its close of 79.87 cents US on Wednesday.

Declining oil prices continued to put pressure on the Canadian dollar, with West Texas Intermediate crude dipping close to $40 before recovering to close at $44.45. Brent oil contracts were at $49.01 US a barrel.

But the real trigger was the Fed's open market committee announcement Wednesday, which seemed to indicate the U.S. central bank was on track to raise interest rates in the spring, in line with its previous schedule.

The Bank of Canada has had one rate cut and many analysts are predicting another, which makes the Canadian dollar even less attractive by comparison with the U.S. dollar.

"As oil prices move lower, this only exacerbates the impact on the Canadian dollar due to the Bank of Canada's increased likelihood to cut rates with falling oil," said Rahim Madhavji,  an analyst at KnightsbridgeFX.com in Toronto.

Stocks down sharply

Toronto stocks plunged more than 200 points in morning trading, but came back by mid-afternoon to move the TSX up 33.08 points to close at 14,635.96.

In a note to investors, BMO chief economist Doug Porter pointed out that the dollar has fallen 19.5 per cent in the past two years as it stood just below parity with the greenback in January 2013.

"That is the largest two-year decline in the Canadian dollar ever, which last I checked is a long period of time. It's even larger than the deep drop in the late '70s when Canadian inflation was running especially hot, and there were very real fiscal concerns, as well as an impending referendum in Quebec," he said.

Porter points out that other currencies are also falling against the strengthening U.S. dollar.

Many analysts have predicted the Canadian dollar will fall as low as 75 cents by the end of this year.

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