Canadian dollar flat amid solid American employment, manufacturing data

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed flat Friday amid solid U.S. economic data.

The loonie had started the session lower but closed unchanged at 100.27 cents US as the U.S. Labour Department’s non-farm payrolls report said the economy created 157,000 jobs in January. It also significantly revised upward the number of jobs created in the previous two months. The Labour Department said that a total of 127,000 more jobs were created than initially thought.

The jobless rate rose 0.1 of a point to 7.9 per cent.

Also, a key reading on the U.S. manufacturing sector showed greater than expected expansion during January.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index came in at 53.1 in January, up from 50.2 in December to the highest level since April. Economists had expected a read of 50.5.

The positive data helped reassure investors who were surprised at data released Wednesday showing the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth quarter at an annualized rate of 0.1 per cent.

The currency closed above parity Thursday for the first time in a week after Statistics Canada reported gross domestic product grew by 0.3 per cent, better than the 0.2 per cent reading that had been expected. Year over year, GDP was ahead by 1.3 per cent.

The dollar had been closing below parity since last Wednesday, hitting a six-month low late last week, after the Bank of Canada said it would likely move to hike interest rates further down the road than previously thought because of weaker economic conditions.

Commodity prices improved following the release of the economic reports with the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange shedding early losses to gain 28 cents to US$97.77 a barrel.

April bullion was up $8.60 to US$1,670.60 an ounce while March copper was up five cents at US$3.78 a pound.