Loonie rises after five losing sessions traders look to GDP data Fed

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar was higher Tuesday as oil and gold prices registered solid gains and traders looked to see how the Canadian economy performed during November.[np_storybar title=”The real reason why interest rates in Canada and around the world are so low” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2015/01/26/the-natural-rate-of-interest/”%5DMichael Walker: It’s time to abandon the notion that world interest rates are going back up to historic levels. Interest rates are low because of demographics — an aging population of savers creates a borrower’s market. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]The loonie was up 0.45 of a cent to 80.68 cents US following five, straight sessions of declines that had left Canada’s dollar as the worst performing currency, down almost seven% year to date.Falling oil prices and a surprise interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada have weighed heavily on the currency. The loonie has also lost value amid speculation that the central bank may make another cut to its key overnight rate, after surprising the financial community last week when it cut the rate by a quarter-point to 0.75%.“The market is pricing in a 16% chance of an interest rate cut at the March meeting and a 68% probability of a cut within the next year,” observed Camilla Sutton, Chief FX Strategist, Managing Director, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets.We expect BoC policy to introduce additional volatility into the Canadian dollar“We expect BoC policy to introduce additional volatility into the Canadian dollar.”The plunge in oil prices has weakened the Canadian economy but this likely won’t be reflected in November gross domestic product figures coming out on Friday. Statistics Canada is expected to report that GDP rose by 0.1% during the month.Oil prices started to collapse at the end of that month after Saudi Arabia ruled out production cuts. Since then, oil has plunged about 40% but seems to have found some stability around the US$45 a barrel mark.TSX and Wall Street tumble on terrible batch of earningsReflecting that rapid drop in prices, TD Bank on Monday downgraded its economic forecast. The bank now expects the Canadian economy to grow by 2% this year compared with its expectation in December for 2.3%. TD said it also expects the Bank of Canada to cut its overnight rate by another quarter of a percentage point in March.Other economic events of note this week include the U.S. Federal Reserve’s scheduled announcement on interest rates on Wednesday.Traders will also take in data on U.S. fourth quarter economic growth on Friday. Economists generally expect that U.S. GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.1%, down from a five% pace in the third quarter.On the commodity markets, March oil gained 61 cents to US$45.76 a barrel.February gold gained $14.30 to US$1,293.70 an ounce and March copper dropped nine cents to a fresh 5 1/2 low of US$2.45 a pound amid a rising U.S. currency and demand concerns from China. read more

UN international experts urge countries to apply Nelson Mandela Rules in prisons

“Their implementation in prisons around the world would significantly improve the treatment of millions of detainees,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez in an open statement along with Med Kaggwa, the Special Rapporteur on prisons, conditions of detention and policing in Africa; the Rapporteur on the rights of persons deprived of liberty of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, James Cavallaro; and the Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks. The Rules are seen as the primary – and often the only – source of standards relating to the treatment of prisoners, and are part of a key framework to monitor and assess prisons. In the statement, the international human rights experts call the revisions an “historic step and one of the most significant human rights achievements in recent years.” Their applications would also aid prison staff to carry out “their important and difficult task in a professional and effective way, benefiting society at large,” according to the open statement. The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were adopted in 1957 and revised in 2015. The UN General Assembly “> unanimously adopted the revision on 17 December 2015, dubbing them the Nelson Mandela Rules in honour of the late President of South Africa, “who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle for global human rights, equality, democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace.” In the resolution, the Member States decided also to extend the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day, observed annually on 18 July, to be also utilized in order to promote humane conditions of imprisonment, to raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and to value the work of prison staff as a social service. “The revised Rules are premised on the recognition of prisoners’ inherent dignity and value as human beings,” said Mr. Méndez. The revised rules have more specific provisions on solitary confinement, defining it as the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact; restricting the scope for application of solitary confinement; and defining prolonged solitary confinement as solitary confinement in excess of 15 days. Also included – for the first time – is guidance on intrusive searches, including strip and body cavity searches, as well as recognition that independent healthcare professionals have a duty to refrain from participating in torture or other ill-treatment. read more