TORONTO - The Canadian dollar was higher Thursday morning as strong Chinese trade data improved risk sentiment on financial markets
The commodity-sensitive currency gained 0.2 of a cent to 101.45 cents US as prices for oil and metals ran ahead after data showed that China's exports and imports grew substantially last month.
China's export growth more than quadrupled in December from the previous month to 14.1 per cent while imports, which failed to grow at all in November, rose six per cent in a sign of increasing domestic demand.
China's trade surplus unexpectedly surged to $31.6 billion in the month, leaving the 2012 total at $232 billion, the widest since 2008.
Commodities advanced in the wake of the trade data. China's strong demand for commodities in the past has pushed prices for oil and metals higher and also supported energy and mining stocks.
The February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 93 cents to US$94.03 a barrel.
The March copper contract advanced four cents to US$3.71 a pound. China is the world's biggest consumer of the metal.
Gold prices also climbed with the February contract up $8.30 to US$1,663.80 an ounce.
Meanwhile, the Bank of England left its base interest rate and its monetary stimulus program unchanged, as widely anticipated by analysts. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee left the key rate at 0.5 per cent, where it has been since March 2009.
The Bank of England’s stimulus program, called quantitative easing, was also not increased from its current 375 billion pounds (US$604 billion).
The European Central Bank announced it was leaving its key rate unchanged at 0.75 per cent.