BUSINESS

Canadian dollar rises, gold prices partially claw back steep losses

04/16/2013 08:41 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed higher Tuesday after tumbling more than a U.S. cent in the wake of steep drops in commodity prices amid weaker than expected growth in China.

The loonie gained 0.47 of a cent to 97.99 cents US. Performance was helped along after Statistics Canada said manufacturing sales rose 2.6 per cent to just under $50 billion in February. It was the largest increase since July 2011.

Other data out during the morning from the International Monetary Fund said that Canada's economy will likely slow to about 1.5 per cent this year from 1.8 per cent last year, before picking up to 2.4 per cent in 2014.

The global lending organization has also cut its forecast for global growth to 3.3 per cent this year, down from its forecast in January of 3.5 per cent.

Losses were triggered on financial markets Monday after data showed that growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed to 7.7 per cent in the first quarter from 7.9 per cent in the final quarter of last year. Growth had been expected to accelerate slightly to eight per cent.

Oil and copper sold off as the data raised concerns about demand prospects.

Also, gold prices fell $140 to their lowest level in more than two years amid fears that European governments may sell the precious metal as part of their debt-fighting measures.

The June bullion contract on the Nymex closed up $26.30 to US$1,387.40 an ounce on Tuesday.

Prices were also pressured Monday by Goldman Sachs having lowered its average gold-price forecast for 2013 last week.

Also, some U.S. Federal Reserve officials have also been calling for an early end to the central bank’s bond-buying program. If that happens, it would likely cause U.S. interest rates to rise, resulting in an appreciation of the U.S. dollar. That gives traders another reason to sell gold, since they see the metal as an alternative to holding dollars.

Oil prices were flat amid concerns over the global economic recovery as the May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange added one cent to US$88.72 a barrel after tumbling about $6 over the last three sessions.

May copper in New York was up three cents at US$3.31 a pound after the Chinese data pushed prices down eight cents.

China has been the world's biggest purchaser of copper, which is viewed as an economic bellwether because it is used in so many applications.

Meanwhile, traders looked ahead to Wednesday when the Bank of Canada makes its next announcement on interest rates. The central bank likely won’t be raising rates any time soon, with most economists expecting it not to make a move until at least the third quarter of 2014.

However, traders will look to the bank’s accompanying statement to see if it is revising its economic forecast.