4 Factors Dragging the Loonie Down Lately

What’s up with the Loonie’s tumble these days and is it in for more losses? Take a look at these market factors that have been dragging the Canadian dollar lower lately.

1. Dovish BOC tone

The Canadian dollar’s troubles started when the Bank of Canada announced its monetary policy decision last week, even as the central bank decided to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.50% for the time being. As it turns out, policymakers “actively” discussed the idea of adding monetary easing “in order to speed up the return of the economy to full capacity.”

BOC Governor Poloz explained that their latest batch of forecasts suggests that trade activity could continue to lag, even admitting that there’s something going on with exports that policymakers don’t fully understand. Central bank officials downgraded their growth and inflation forecasts for the year, citing additional uncertainties from the effects of new mortgage restrictions, the impact of the government’s fiscal measures, and the outcome of the U.S. elections.

In a nutshell, this shift to a more dovish stance led market watchers to be more sensitive to downbeat Canadian reports that could convince BOC officials to give the go signal for a rate cut sooner or later.

2. Weak inflation data

Last Friday, Canada’s CPI reports underscored the central bank’s weaker inflation outlook. Headline CPI posted a meager 0.1% uptick versus the projected 0.2% gain while the core CPI came in line with estimates of a 0.2% increase. On a year-over-year basis, core CPI stood at 1.5% in September, down from the 1.7% gain seen in the previous month.

Details of the September CPI report revealed that price levels were actually higher for eight out of the 12 major components. Indices for shelter and transportation posted the largest year-over-year gains while prices of food products such as fresh vegetables, cereals, condiments, and dairy were all down, erasing their increase from August.

3. Even weaker consumer spending data

Canada also printed its retail sales figures along with its CPI data on Friday, and the former didn’t fare any better. In fact, headline retail sales slipped 0.1% in August instead of showing the estimated 0.5% rise while core retail sales stayed flat instead of printing the projected 0.4% gain.

To make things worse, the July figures suffered notable downgrades. Both core and headline figures were adjusted to show a larger 0.2% fall from the initially reported 0.1% dip. Components of the August retail sales report indicated that lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, as well as general merchandise stores, were to blame for a chunk of the decline.

4. Crude oil oversupply fears

A little over a week after the OPEC made some progress in discussing an output deal to limit production to 32.5 million to 33 million barrels per day, crude oil retreated from its recent rally when Iraq said that it’s not willing to play nice with the rest of the cartel. Keep in mind that Iraq is the second-largest oil producer next to Saudi Arabia so it’s willingness to cooperate is crucial to stabilizing the market.

As it is, Iraq is pumping out around 4.8 million barrels per day and is exporting 3.87 million barrels per day. “We are not going back in any way, not by OPEC not by anybody else,” said the head of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Company Falah al-Amri. Expectations are running high for an actual agreement in the November 30 OPEC meeting so the commodity and the oil-related Loonie could be in for more pain if the deal fails to push through.

On the other side of the equation, demand has been notably weaker from Japan, as its crude imports fell 4.6% in September to 3.27 million barrels per day. Meanwhile, U.S. oil rig counts continue to rise as the pickup in prices has made it profitable for drillers to resume operations, adding to oversupply concerns.