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Tuesday February 19, 2008 - 22:27:41 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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Forex Market News - Canadian dollar ends near 4-week low, bonds drop

Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:53pm EST
 By Frank Pingue
 TORONTO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar closed at
its lowest level in nearly a month against the U.S. dollar on
Tuesday, as domestic data supported expectations of a Bank of
Canada rate cut and offset any benefit from higher oil prices.
 Domestic bond prices took their cue from the bigger U.S.
market and finished lower across the curve ahead of a domestic
retail sales report due later this week.
 The Canadian dollar closed at C$1.0171 to the U.S. dollar,
or 98.32 U.S. cents, down from C$1.0075 to the U.S. dollar, or
99.26 U.S. cents, at Friday's close.
 Data that showed Canada's wholesale trade fell more than
expected in December weighed on the currency, which later went
on to hit a session low of C$1.0174.
 The data followed another domestic report that showed core
inflation, which helps guide Bank of Canada interest rate
decisions, slowed to 1.4 percent in January, in line with
forecasts.
 "The market is starting to react to concerns that maybe the
activity data in Canada is weaker than currently anticipated,
which further emphasizes the importance of the retail numbers
on Friday," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at
RBC Capital Markets.
 "But, having said that, I am a little bit surprised about
the extent of the selloff in the Canadian dollar."
 The data has all but cemented a rate cut in March,
especially since there is not enough economic data left to sway
the central bank's decision before March 4. But the size of the
cut is still up for debate.
 A Reuters poll taken on Tuesday showed eight of Canada's 12
dealers forecast the central bank will cut its key rate by 50
basis points to 3.50 percent. Four of the dealers expect a 25
point cut.
 Strauss also suggested the domestic currency encountered
further selling pressure around the C$1.0120 level, which he
said attracted a slew of U.S. dollar buyers.
 That pressure outweighed any benefit the commodity-linked
Canadian dollar drew from soaring oil prices, which hit a
record high of $100.10 a barrel on Tuesday. The currency often
takes its cue from oil prices, given Canada's position as a key
energy producer and exporter.
 BONDS FALL
 Canadian bond prices followed U.S. treasuries lower despite
the negative domestic data on wholesale trade.
 "All things considered, the movements we saw in Canada
largely reflected a lot of the same movements you saw out of
treasuries in the U.S.," said Max Clarke, an economist at
IDEAglobal in New York.
 "The markets really didn't have too much to say about the
CPI data, given the fact that it was largely accommodative to
further rate cuts from the Bank of Canada."
 Clarke also suggested the market is looking ahead to the
Canadian December retail sales data, due Friday, as it will
offer some insight as to how resilient consumer demand is going
to be in 2008.
 The two-year bond fell 22 Canadian cents to C$101.94 to
yield 3.112 percent. The 10-year bond slid 90 Canadian cents to
C$100.55 to yield 3.928 percent.
 The yield spread between the two- and 10-year bond was 81.6
basis points, down from 82.4 points at the previous close.
 The 30-year bond lost C$1.45 Canadian cents to C$112.05 to
yield 4.274 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury
yielded 4.670 percent.
 The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 3.25 percent,
unchanged from the previous close.
(Editing by Rob Wilson)

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