TORONTO — The Canadian dollar weakened on Wednesday to its lowest point this year against its U.S. counterpart as oil prices fell and the greenback gained ground against a basket of major currencies.

Gains for the U.S. dollar came as data showed U.S. private employers added 298,000 jobs in February, well above economists’ expectations.

Stronger-than-expected U.S. payroll numbers, due for release on Friday, could help cement expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week.

U.S. crude prices were down 1.45 per cent at $52.37 a barrel after an industry report pointed to a large rise in crude inventories in the United States, renewing oversupply concerns despite OPEC output curbs.

Oil is one of Canada’s major exports.

By midday, the Canadian dollar was trading at 74.17 U.S. cents, down 0.37 cents, its weakest level since Dec. 30.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across a steeper yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The two-year fell 5 cents to yield 0.827 per cent, and the 10-year declined 50 cents to yield 1.798 per cent.

The 10-year yield touched its highest intraday level since Feb. 15 at 1.800 per cent.

© Thomson Reuters 2017