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Jul 31, 2017

Loonie gains on Scaramucci news, oil rally

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TORONTO -– The Canadian dollar recovered somewhat against the U.S. dollar on Monday after the White House said the president's recently-named communications director was out of a job and U.S. crude oil prices pushed above US$50 a barrel.

The loonie has jumped more than 10 per cent since early May, including a four per cent gain this month as the Bank of Canada raised interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years and investors shy away from rising U.S. political uncertainty.

At 4 p.m. ET, the Canadian dollar was trading at $1.2468 to the greenback, or 80.21 cents US, down 0.3 per cent on the day but just off its strongest level in more than two years, hit late last week.

"Gains are definitely harder to come by here," said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets, citing resistance in the low $1.24 range. "But if we continue to see more headlines out of Washington and if crude continues to tick higher, I absolutely think we'll make fresh lows" in the Canadian dollar, he said.

The currency traded in a range of $1.2433 to $1.2530, after hitting $1.2414 on Thursday. The U.S. dollar fell 0.5 per cent against a basket of currencies following news that Anthony Scaramucci, named by President Donald Trump as communications director only 10 days ago, was leaving the post.              

Scaramucci's departure follows the failure of a major legislative effort — a health care overhaul — in Congress and both his spokesman and previous chief of staff leaving their jobs. "There is just no faith in the Trump White House and any of the policies he promised back on election day, and so there is just no faith in the (U.S.) dollar as well as a result," BMO's Jespersen said.

Higher prices for oil, a major Canadian export, also supported the Canadian dollar, with U.S. crude settling up nearly one per cent at US$50.17 a barrel.

Canadian government bond prices were mixed across a steeper yield curve, with the two-year price up 2.5 cents to yield 1.315 per cent and the 10-year falling 23 cents to yield 2.056 per cent. The 10-year yield touched its highest since November 2014 at 2.065 per cent.

Data from Statistics Canada showed Canadian producer prices fell more than expected in June.

Both Canadian and U.S. jobs data for July and domestic trade data for June are due on Friday.           

The Trump Administration