Canadian dollar down, greenback rises in wake of strong U.S. employment data

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TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed lower Friday as the greenback appreciated in the wake of data showing stronger than expected U.S. jobs data.

The loonie was down 0.16 of a cent to 91.07 cents US as the U.S. Labor Department reported that the American economy cranked out 288,000 jobs in April.

Economists had expected growth of around 200,000. Also, the jobless rate fell from 6.7 per cent to 6.3 per cent, the lowest level since September 2008.

The news wasn’t all good: the labour force participation rate fell to just 62.8 per cent in April from 63.2 per cent in March.

Canadian jobs data for April will be released next Friday.

The U.S. jobs data was released in the wake of other recent economic reports that have pointed to faster economic growth after a dismal start to the year, slowed by a brutal winter.

Consumers are ramping up spending, businesses are ordering more goods and manufacturers are expanding. The strengthening numbers show that severe weather in January and February were largely to blame for the economy’s scant growth at the start of the year.

The economy barely expanded from January through March, eking out an annual growth rate of just 0.1 per cent, down from a 2.6 per cent rate in the final three months of 2013.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has called a June 12 election instead of waiting to see her minority Liberal government defeated in a confidence vote on its budget. Earlier Friday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party would vote against the budget handed down Thursday by the minority Liberal government. The Liberals’ budget said the province would rack up a deficit of $12.5 billion this year, up from $11.3 billion last year.

Horwath said the Liberals haven’t kept the promises they made to the NDP in last year’s budget, so she can’t trust them to keep the 70 new promises made in this year’s spending plan.

On the commodity markets, June bullion climbed $19.50 to US$1,302.90 an ounce.

June crude in New York gained 34 cents to US$99.76 a barrel, while July copper was up five cents to US$3.07 a pound.

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