OTTAWA (AFP) – The Canadian dollar, or loonie as it is affectionately called here, is likely to soar above parity with the US greenback this year, experts at a Canadian bank said Wednesday.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada (CIBC) chief economist Avery Shenfeld said the Canadian dollar had already gained several cents in recent weeks as the market firms up expectations of an interest rate hike in July.

If as expected, the central bank “is out in front of the US Federal Reserve by a couple of quarters” in raising interest rates, the Canadian dollar could reach 1.02 dollars versus the US dollar by September, before dipping back to 0.97 dollars by year end,” Shenfeld said.

The Bank of Canada has maintained its key lending rate at a historic low of 0.25 percent since April 2009 to help bolster a fragile economic recovery, but is widely expected to review its position mid-year.

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