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Canadian dollar regains clout

Canada's dollar has made a resounding comeback after crashing to below 77 cents U.S. — down from a value of about $1.10 U.S. a year ago.

The renewed upward momentum was a reaction to a weakened U.S. greenback and higher oil prices as Canada's currency jumped 6 cents back to 83 cents U.S.

It started October valued at 94 cents and then fell to 77.10 cents on Monday — the lowest point in more than four years. Wednesday's gain of almost 4 cents was the largest for the Canadian dollar since it became a floating currency in 1970.

This is good news for Canadians traveling in the United States as well as snowbirds and those who enjoy cross-border shopping. As well, exported Canadian-made goods are less expensive on the world market.

Even with the higher value, it's still costing $1.20 Canadian, plus a few cents for bank exchange fees, to buy one U.S. dollar.

"In the new world of volatility," the dollar could fall back to 77 cents by year's end, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce report said.

There is "considerable price support" for the U.S. currency around $1.165 to $1.185 Canadian (85.8 to 84.4 cents U.S.), it added.

Harper names Cabinet

Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a vote of confidence to Jim Flaherty by keeping him in his role of finance minister.

In announcing his slate of seasoned veterans and federal rookies for the Cabinet after last month's election victory, Harper indicated that the economy is the government's top priority.

He also named Jim Prentice as environment minister and Tony Clement as industry minister.

"We will build a foundation of strength that will protect the earnings, savings and financial security of Canadians and ensure that Canada emerges from this time of global turmoil stronger than ever before," Harper said.

Three newly elected female Conservatives were given Cabinet duties: Nunavut's Leona Aglukkaq in health; Ontario's Lisa Raitt, natural resources; and Prince Edward Island's Gail Shea, fisheries.

News in brief

• Eastern Ontario had its first taste of wintry weather as a storm dumped several inches of snow along with high winds that cut power to thousands of customers. Driving conditions were poor east of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, north of Toronto, because of snow squalls.

• The state of the economy and job losses are prompting Canadian retailers to slash holiday shopping prices early. Retail analysts say consumers aren't in a spending mood. Sears Canada has discounted most of its stock for "budget relief" pricing, while electronic and clothing retailers have also aggressively cut prices.

• The Ontario government is banning the use of handheld cell phones and other "distracting" electronic devices while driving, with the penalty of a $500 (Canadian) fine. Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Nova Scotia have similar bans, while Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are planning to enact similar laws.

Facts and figures

Stock markets had another roller-coaster week, with the Toronto exchange advancing to 9,725 points and the TSX Venture index rising to 887 points.

Canada's currency rose to 83.61 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. dollar returned $1.1961 Canadian.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is unchanged at 2.25 percent, while the prime lending rate is 4 percent.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 3, 26, 33, 42 and 46; bonus 45. (Oct. 25) 4, 9, 25, 26, 41 and 46; bonus 40. Super 7: (Oct. 24) 13, 14, 25, 26, 27, 35 and 40; bonus 17.

Regional briefs

• An off-duty Mountie was arrested for drunken driving after Orion Hutchinson, 21, of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, was knocked from his motorcycle and killed. Police refused to release the name of the Mountie but confirmed he was one of four officers involved in a Taser incident in which Robert Dziekanski of Poland died at Vancouver's airport last year.

• Julie Couillard, the ex-girlfriend of former Conservative Cabinet minister Maxime Bernier, has been hired as a weekly commentator on CJAD, a Montreal English-language radio station. Bernier resigned from the Cabinet after it was learned he left sensitive government documents at Couillard's home, but he was re-elected as a member of Parliament in October.

• The at-sea death of Laura Gainey, 25, daughter of Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey, could have been prevented, the Transportation Safety Board said. Forecasts of adverse weather were not heeded and limited training of crew led to the incident, it said. She was swept off the deck of the Picton Castle tall ship in a storm after leaving Halifax for the Caribbean in December 2006.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Canadian dollar regains clout 11/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 6:15pm]
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