* C$ jumps to 98.98 U.S. cents, 13th rise in 14 days
* Bonds fall on stronger than expected data, rate views
* Canada January wholesale trade leap confirms recovery
(Updates to close)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar closed
just below 99 U.S. cents on Wednesday, its highest level in
almost 20 months, as it moved tantalizingly close to being on a
one-for-one footing with the U.S. dollar.
The currency got support from firm commodity prices and a
renewed pledge by the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep interest
rates low for an extended period, as well as a bigger than
expected jump in Canadian wholesale trade data. During the day
it rose as high as C$1.0071 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.30 U.S.
cents, its highest level since July 2008.
It closed at C$1.0103 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.98 U.S.
cents, up from Tuesday's close of C$1.0140 to the U.S. dollar,
or 98.62 U.S. cents.
"The Canadian dollar continues to show strength, quite an
astonishing push...There is undeniably a great deal of
momentum," said Eric Lascelles, chief economics and rates
"Parity is very much in the market's sights."
The Canadian dollar also benefited from a softer tone to
the U.S. dollar, Lascelles said. The greenback fell against
higher-yielding currencies as risk assets rallied, including
stock markets and oil, which rose above $82 a barrel. [FRX/]
The Canadian dollar has closed higher in 13 of the last 14
sessions, gaining every day but one during this month so far.
"The risk is that there's going to be a bit of a
correction, but there's no real incentive because the overall
trend is still higher," said Michael O'Neill, managing director
at Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange, a commercial foreign
exchange dealing firm.
Canadian bond prices deepened losses across the curve on
Wednesday as domestic data provided more evidence of Canada's
strengthening economic recovery, keeping interest rate hikes on
Adding to a host of strong economic reports recently,
Canadian wholesale trade jumped by a much greater than expected
3.0 percent in January from December. [ID:nN17149981]
"What continues to motivate the bond market remains excited
expectations for the Bank of Canada (rate increase) and strong
economic figures," Lascelles said.
"It's hard to argue when you do indeed see such legitimate
economic strength time and time again."
He said he expects the Bank of Canada to raise interest
rates in July, the first monetary policy setting date after the
central bank's conditional pledge on rates expires at the end
The rate pledge is conditional on inflation remaining in
check, which could make this Friday's consumer price index for
February critical. Investors will mainly be checking the report
to see if core inflation remains high or subsides, after
unexpectedly reaching the Bank of Canada's 2 percent target in
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> slipped 9 Canadian
cents to C$99.83 to yield 1.588 percent, while the 10-year bond
<CA10YT=RR> dropped 23 Canadian cents to C$102.17 to yield
Canadian bonds mostly underperformed against their U.S.
counterparts across the curve. The difference between 10-year
yields narrowed 4.6 basis points to 16.4 basis points.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)