* C$ ends lower at 93.43 U.S. cents
* Annual inflation rate rose to 1.0 percent in November
* Bonds win flight-to-safety bid
(Adds details, quote)
TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Canada's dollar fell to its
lowest closing level in about six weeks on Thursday as the U.S.
currency was bolstered by the U.S. Federal Reserve's upbeat
economic view as well as by some safe-haven flows.
Canadian inflation data reinforced expectations that the
Bank of Canada will hold rates steady until the middle of next
year, which pulled the currency as low as C$1.0748 to the U.S.
dollar before it bounced back a bit.
The Canadian dollar finished at C$1.0703 to the U.S.
dollar, or 93.43 U.S. cents, its lowest level since Nov. 6.
That is down from C$1.0605 to the U.S. dollar, or 94.30 U.S.
cents, at Wednesday's close.
The greenback extended gains from the previous session on a
reassuring assessment about the U.S. economy by the Federal
Reserve. As well, unsettling news about Citigroup and Greece's
fiscal health added to the U.S. dollar's safe-haven appeal.
"We're getting a confluence of events that are helping the
U.S. dollar," said John Curran, senior vice president at
CanadianForex, a commercial foreign exchange dealing firm.
Citigroup's stock and bond offering attracted weak demand
and was priced much lower than expected, prompting the U.S.
Treasury to delay a plan to sell its Citigroup stake sometime
within the next 12 months. [ID:nN17163115]
Standard & Poor's cut Greece's rating by one notch to
BBB-plus from A-minus late in European hours on Wednesday.
Canada's annual inflation rate rose to 1.0 percent in
November from 0.1 percent in October, primarily because of
higher gasoline prices, Statistics Canada said. The core annual
inflation rate, closely watched by the Bank of Canada, dropped
to 1.5 percent from 1.8 percent in October. [ID:nN17155952]
While higher than analysts had expected, both November
figures came within the central bank's 1 to 3 percent target
"It mitigates the fear that inflation was tracking above
the Bank of Canada's expectations to this point," said Derek
Holt, economist at Scotia Capital.
"This inflation report would lower any bets that the Bank
of Canada is going to hike (interest rates) prematurely," he
added. "It would make Canadian dollar assets a little less
attractive, but ever so slightly."
The central bank is promising to keep its key interest rate
at 0.25 percent until June 2010 as long as inflation is kept in
check, a stance that Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney
repeated in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
But he said that if necessary the bank could raise rates
before the end of June or after.
Speaking of the mid-2010 timetable for keeping rates
steady, Carney said: "We have the flexibility to adjust it,
either by shortening it or lengthening it, if that's what's
necessary to achieve our mandate." [ID:nN17178622]
Canadian bond prices were higher across the curve,
following U.S. Treasuries and supported by the prospect of
interest rates staying low for a long period and by safe-haven
Fresh economic concerns arose after an unexpected rise in
weekly U.S. jobless claims, and helped steer investors away
from riskier assets such as stocks and into the relative safety
of government debt. Major North American stock indexes were off
more than 1 percent on Thursday.
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> gained 9 Canadian
cents to C$99.94 to yield 1.284 percent, while the 30-year bond
<CA30YT=RR> was up 45 Canadian cents at C$117.15 to yield 3.968
Canadian bonds underperformed U.S. Treasuries, with the
10-year yield spread narrowing to 11.2 basis points below its
U.S. counterpart from 19.6 basis points the previous session.
The Bank of Canada released its quarterly auction schedule
for government bonds, with the first auction, of five-year
bonds, to be held on Jan. 13. [ID:nTOR007024]
(Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)