BUSINESS

Canadian dollar declines, oil prices hold steady around the US$55 a barrel mark

12/29/2014 08:46 EST | Updated 02/28/2015 05:59 EST
The Canadian dollar closed lower Monday amid sliding prices for oil and gold.

The loonie declined 0.05 of a cent to 85.99 cents US.

February crude in New York lost $1.12 to US$53.61 a barrel.

The currency moved slightly lower last week, down 0.09 of a cent, reflecting oil prices that settled at around US$55 a barrel last week. Prices have plunged almost 50 per cent from summer highs amid a huge increase in global supply and lower demand from economic weak spots like China and Europe.

Metals were mixed with February gold down $13.40 to US$1,181.90 an ounce while March copper was a cent lower at $2.82 a pound.

Traders also took in economic developments from overseas.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that regulators will change accounting rules for bank deposits to free up more money for lending. That could help boost economic growth that slumped to a five-year low in the latest quarter.

The report came after government data on Saturday showed profits for China's biggest industrial companies fell 4.2 per cent in November from a year earlier, accelerating from the previous month's 2.1 per cent decline.

News that Greece will hold early general elections this month raised concerns over the country's financial future. An opposition party that is against the terms of the country's bailout program is leading in the polls and investors worry it will seek changes if it wins the election.

Russia's currency was also in focus, falling five per cent on Monday after a rally last week. Russian monetary officials have made stabilizing the currency a priority amid slumping oil revenues and unease about the country's economic outlook.

There are no major Canadian economic releases this week. However, data out of the U.S. this week includes the latest data on consumer confidence, house prices, manufacturing and vehicle sales.