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Canadian dollar weakens as CPI data bolsters bets of Bank of Canada April rate cut

Published 2024-02-20, 05:47 p/m
Updated 2024-02-20, 05:47 p/m
© Reuters. – The Canadian Dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart today, and against most major currencies as Canadian inflation data for January came in cooler than expected, raising the odds of a Bank of Canada rate cut in April.

Canadian CPI inflation declined to 2.9% on an annual basis in January, well below expectations for a 3.3% reading, compared to 3.4% in December. 

On a month over month basis, CPI printed flat at 0.0% compared to expectations for a 0.4% increase compared to 0.3% in December. 

Core inflation meanwhile came in at 2.4% in January from 2.6%  in December.

Money markets now see a roughly coin flip of a chance of a BoC rate cut in April, prior to a roughly 25% chance prior to the release of today’s CPI data. Odds for an at least  25 basis point cut in June stand at 80%. 

Canadian inflation data stands in stark contrast to U.S. CPI, which saw headline and core consumer prices rise by more than expected on both an annual and monthly basis and pushed out the timeline of rate cut expectations from the Federal Reserve. 

Karl Schamotta, Chief Market Strategist at Corpay notes that "The Canadian inflation picture is diverging relatively dramatically from what we're seeing in the rest of the world. Inflation pressures are decelerating far more quickly than anticipated.” 

“This is very likely to pull Bank of Canada rate expectations forward and substantially narrow that gap between expected rate trajectories in Canada and the U.S.”

In terms of the implications for the USDCAD pair, analysts at Monex Canada note that this may drive a “break back above 1.35, as markets are forced to price in the likelihood that the BoC begins easing in April in line with our base case”. 

They also note that a speech from the BoC’s Toni Gravelle on Wednesday is likely to provide a further catalyst for the USDCAD, writing that “If Gravelles comments help further markets align with our view for BoC rate cuts, this should leave USDCAD well on its way towards 1.36 by the second half of the week.”

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