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Bets against the Canadian dollar surge again

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Short positions rise
Bets against the Canadian dollar are surging again.

According to the latest report from the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the net short position for the loonie, as Canada's dollar coin is known, stood at $6.3-billion, up by almost $1.6-billion from a week earlier.

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The CFTC reports the data every Friday, though the numbers are based on a Tuesday reading, which means the latest report includes the day Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz knocked the loonie down by suggesting the door remains open to a cut in interest rates.

The numbers do not, however, encompass whatever action followed last Wednesday, when Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen added fuel to that fire with the suggestion that interest rates could rise sooner than expected.

The combined effect of that sent the loonie tumbling.

"The Canadian dollar is trading at its lowest level since July 2009 and much of it is due to an implied weak Bank of Canada policy on interest rate expectations," said Rahim Madhavji of Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange.

"The U.S. dollar seems to be benefiting from strong economic data and Fed expectations of higher interest rates."

Many observers believe the Canadian dollar will continue to plumb new depths going forward.

"We expect CAD to trade weaker over the next several months, as a dovish governor Poloz is juxtaposed against an increasingly hawkish Fed and Canadian domestic data continue to paint an uneven outlook," said chief currency strategist Camilla Sutton of Bank of Nova Scotia, referring to the loonie by its symbol.

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Ukraine in energy industry probe
Ukraine's former energy minister allegedly left behind a fortune when he fled.

Ukrainian authorities, in the midst of an investigation into the energy industry, searched Eduard Stavytsky's home and found millions in gold, cash and what are believed to be diamonds.

According to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, authorities also found many high-end watches.

His weekend statement on Facebook came after comments a day after he announced that the investigation is also looking at Ukrainian-owned energy giant Naftogaz, whose chairman was detained.

Authorities, according to Mr. Avakov, are probing corruption in the industry to the tune of some $4-billion.

Mr. Avakov said the raid on the former energy minister's home netted $4.8-million in cash, 42 kgs of gold, boxes of what appeared to be diamonds and documents showing property ownership and shares in real estate companies.

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The interior minister said, according to news service translations, that "it blew my mind" when he was told of what was found.

China's manufacturing sector slows
More evidence is emerging that manufacturing growth in the world's second largest economy is slowing, The Globe and Mail's Eric Reguly reports.

The flash Markit/HSBC purchasing managers' index released today, a gauge of Chinese manufacturing, fell to an eight-month low of 48.1 in March for 48.5 in February. Most economists had expected a stronger March figure. Any number below 50 indicates contraction. The PMI figure has been below that number since January.

The shrinking PMI suggests that the Chinese government will stimulate the economy to keep its 7.5-per-cent economic growth target intact.

"Weakness is broadly-based with domestic demand softening further," Qu Hongbin, chief China economist at HSBC, said in a statement. "We expect Beijing to launch a series of policy measures to stabilize growth. Likely options include lowering entry barriers for private investment, targeted spending on subways, air-cleaning and public housing, and guiding lending rates lower."

What to watch for this week
Besides a final reading on how the U.S. economy fared in the fourth quarter of last year, investors will get a look at the earnings of two Canadian companies in the spotlight.

First, as The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports, Lululemon Athletica Inc. unveils its fourth-quarter results Thursday, with a new chief executive officer at the helm, and following some public relations setbacks.

A day later, BlackBerry Ltd., also with a relatively new CEO, reports its results.

And as The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad notes, analysts project the smartphone maker will post a loss of about 57 cents a share and revenue of $1.1-billion for the fourth quarter.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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