The Canadian dollar remained steady against the US Dollar on Thursday, touching a weekly high as investors await the Canadian employment report expected on Friday morning. Economists are expecting the Canadian economy to have added 15,000 jobs in January. A surprise on the upside with more than 15,000 jobs added could lead the Bank of Canada (BoC) to hold off on any rate cuts. However, if the job numbers come in below expectations and disappoint the market, the Canadian dollar could weaken against the US dollar. This would be seen as a further indication for the BoC that rate cuts are imminent, especially compared to the more stable situation in the US.
This perspective is especially relevant given that the chances of a rate cut in the US were significantly reduced this morning, following comments by Richmond Fed President Barkin. He indicated that US policymakers, given the strong economic data from the US economy, have the luxury of waiting for further signs of deflation before deciding to cut rates. The situation in Canada is different, given its more interest-sensitive economy and the high levels of debt among Canadian consumers. The BoC might be forced to act sooner rather than later. As a result, the employment numbers due out on Friday could be a significant driver for the USD/CAD exchange rate.
In line with this, economists at CIBC Capital Markets, earlier in the week suggested that there could be another round of Canadian dollar weakness in the spring, with the USD/CAD potentially reaching 1.38 before recovering in the summer of 2024 and into 2025.