Loonie leads commodity currencies higher, dollar subdued | Reuters - Firstpost
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Loonie leads commodity currencies higher, dollar subdued | Reuters

Updated: Feb 18, 2016 05:45 IST

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SYDNEY The Canadian dollar held at two-week highs early on Thursday, having benefited hugely from a jump in oil prices, while an absence of fresh cues in minutes of the Federal Reserve's January meeting saw the greenback shuffle sideways.

Investors warmed to the Canadian currency after oil prices rose 7 percent as Iran voiced support for a Russia-Saudi-led move to freeze production. Yet, Iran gave no commitment it would curb its own output to deal with a market glut.

The loonie last traded at C$1.3670 per USD CAD=D4, having risen as far as C$1.3666 - a high last seen on Feb. 4.

Other commodity currencies took heart from the loonie's performance. The Australian dollar gained more than a full U.S. cent and was motoring toward 72 U.S. cents AUD=D4. Its New Zealand counterpart popped back above 66 cents NZD=D4, pulling well away from a two-week trough of $0.6545.

Traders said the Aussie could aim for this month's peak of $0.7242 should local employment data due at 7.30 p.m. ET surprise on the upside. Market consensus is for a rise of 15,000 jobs and a steady unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. ECONAU

The rebound in oil prices coupled with strong U.S. industrial production data helped markets recover from recent jitters. European and U.S. stocks ended higher, while most emerging market currencies also firmed.

Mexico's peso MXN=D2 outperformed after the central bank ambushed markets with an interest rate hike and intervened directly in the market to support the currency.

In contrast, Venezuela devalued its bolivar and announced a new system for setting the exchange rate.

The dollar and euro remained in consolidation mode against their Japanese peer, having found a floor at multi-month lows last week.

The greenback fetched 114.14 yen JPY=, while the euro bought 126.97 yen EURJPY=R, holding above their troughs of 110.985 and 125.795 respectively.

Making the rounds in the market early in Asia, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ruled out more spending stimulus for now.

Minutes of the Fed's Jan. 26-27 meeting underlined the central bank's unease over the global outlook.

"The cautious tone from the January FOMC meeting minutes highlight that the downside risks to the U.S. growth outlook had increased," said Elias Haddad, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank.

"We still expect the Fed to resume raising rates in June, which will continue to bode well for the USD."

The dollar firmed slightly against the euro, which eased to $1.1126 EUR=. Just a week ago, the common currency scaled a 3-1/2 month peak of $1.1377.

The dollar index .DXY was little changed at 96.861.

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