By Cameron French
TORONTO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar ended little changed on Tuesday, rebounding from early-session losses despite tamer than expected November inflation.
Bond prices edged higher on the inflation data, which raised expectations of further Bank of Canada interest rate cuts.
The Canadian dollar finished at C$1.0055 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.45 U.S. cents, up slightly from C$1.0057 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.43 U.S. cents, at Monday's close.
The currency eased overnight and fell further immediately after the data, but then rebounded after bottoming out at C$1.0145, or 98.57 U.S. cents.
"It's still buy the Canadian dollar on dips," said David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
"So we had that move that we saw after the CPI number get completely washed out, and most of the overnight selling of the Canadian dollar washed out as well."
The Canadian dollar hit its modern-day high of US$1.1039 on Nov. 7, but has since fallen back below parity as the Bank of Canada has cut interest rates and left the door open for further easing. Meanwhile, metals prices have also eased, eroding interest in Canada's relatively large resource sector.
But with many still thinking the U.S. dollar could lose ground if the U.S. economy takes a bigger hit from the subprime mortgage crisis, the future direction of the Canadian dollar has been increasingly hard to predict, said Watt.
"It looked like we had a recent change from bullish Canadian dollar sentiment to bearish Canadian dollar sentiment, but now it looks like it's uncertain whether we had a break or not," he said.
BONDS CLIMB ON RATE CUT EXPECTATIONS
Bond prices rose after the inflation data, which analysts said left the door open for the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates in early 2008 without fear of overheating the economy.
The annual inflation rate accelerated in November to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent in October but the core inflation rate, closely watched by the Bank of Canada, slowed to 1.6 percent, its lowest level since April 2006, and just below analyst expectations.
A Reuters poll done earlier in the month showed that nearly all of Canada's 13 securities dealers expect the Bank of Canada to cut its key overnight rate when it makes its next rate announcement on Jan. 22.
The overnight rate is currently 4.25 percent.
Canada's composite leading indicator for November was unchanged for a second straight month, data showed on Tuesday.
The next key data, on gross domestic product and retail sales for October, will be released Friday.
The overnight Canadian Libor rate LIBOR01 was at 4.25 percent, unchanged from Monday.
Tuesday's CORRA rate <CORRA=> was 4.2622 percent, up slightly from 4.2603 percent on Monday.
The two-year bond rose 8 Canadian cents to C$100.79 to yield 3.823 percent. The 10-year bond gained 21 Canadian cents to C$99.81 to yield 4.024 percent.
The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond moved to 20.1 basis points from 18.4 at the previous close.
The 30-year bond rose 45 Canadian cents to C$114.88 to yield 4.123 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury yielded 4.542 percent.
The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 3.88 percent, down from 3.89 percent at the previous close. (Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Rob Wilson)