TORONTO – The Canadian dollar traded below 69 cents US early Friday for the first time since 2003 as crude oil futures dropped below US$30 a barrel and overseas stock markets fell sharply.
The loonie traded as low as 68.74 cents US about five hours before the Toronto Stock Exchange open at 9:30 a.m.. The dollar was higher at 8:30 a.m., at 69.05 cents US — about 0.62 of a U.S. cent below the Thursday closing price.
Canada’s dollar — which hasn’t been below 69 cents since April 2003 — was also down Friday against the euro, British pound and Japanese yen.
On the commodity markets, February crude oil futures traded at US$29.35 a barrel at about 8:30 a.m. The falling price of crude — from more than US$100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 — has been a major reason for the loonie’s fall.
With about one hour to go before regular trading on North American stock exchanges at 9:30 a.m., index futures were solidly negative: Dow Jones futures were down 303.0 points at 15,978.0, S&P 500 futures declined 35.25 points to 1,879.25 and the Nasdaq futures lost 86 points to 4,171.50.
Asian and European markets were also in the red. Shanghai’s benchmark index closed down 3.55 per cent and smaller declines were shown in Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, and Paris.
On Thursday, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX index gained 165.62 points to close at 12,336.03, though it has still lost more than 900 points, or 7.1 per cent, since the Christmas break.