The Canadian dollar traded within a whisker of parity on Monday, boosted by surging oil prices and expectations of higher Canadian interest rates.
At one point Monday, the loonie traded as high as 99.90 cents US, according to data from the Bank of Canada website.
It closed at 99.72 cents US, up more than half a cent from Friday's close.
"With some wind in its sails, [the march to parity] starts today," Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said in a note to clients Monday morning.
"I think parity is imminent," Scotia Capital economist Camilla Sutton told Reuters on Monday. "I would expect to see it today, tomorrow. We really do have all the factors lining up for us here."
Almost 2 years since last parity
The loonie hasn't traded at or above parity with the U.S. dollar since July 2008. It surged as high as $1.10 US in November 2007 as oil prices soared above $100 US a barrel. By March 2009, it had tumbled back to the 76-cent US mark before staging its latest comeback.
Crude futures gained $1.75 to close at $86.62 US a barrel Monday — the highest price for the commodity in almost a year and a half. Higher oil prices tend to increase the value of the Canadian dollar, since the country exports significant amounts of petroleum from the Alberta oilsands.
Crude has jumped from $69 US a barrel in early February on expectations a recovered U.S. economy will eventually spark higher oil consumption.
A report last Friday that showed the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in March served to drive that oil-positive sentiment even higher.