* Ends at 98.65 U.S. cents, fall expected to be temporary
* Canada CPI for February may be key to C$ run at parity
* Bonds firm after securities data
* Foreigners boost bond purchases in January
(Adds details, quotes)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar retreated
from its multimonth high on Thursday, tugged lower by falling
oil prices, though parity with the U.S. currency was still
within the market's sights.
Earlier on Thursday, the currency rose as high as C$1.0090
to the U.S. dollar, or 99.11 U.S. cents, even though the
factors that usually lift the currency were soft, including oil
prices and global equity markets, which were pressured by
persistent concerns about Greece's fiscal outlook. [MKTS/GLOB]
But those factors soon took their toll, pushing the
currency to a session low of C$1.0144 to the U.S. dollar, or
98.58 U.S. cents, as oil prices fell to around $82 a barrel
after a two-day rally.
The Canadian dollar also faced pressure as the greenback
strengthened against the euro, and OPEC made no strong steps to
tighten supplies beyond its official output cap. [O/R] [FRX/]
The currency finished at C$1.0137 to the U.S. dollar, or
98.65 U.S. cents, down from Wednesday's finish at C$1.0103 to
the U.S. dollar, or 98.98 U.S. cents.
"We've been seeing these little pullbacks but any time we
see them they don't seem to last very long. Today's probably
the most major one in the last two weeks but we're pretty much
where we started the day yesterday," said Brendan McGrath at
currency services firm Custom House.
"This just goes to show the pressure is still on the U.S.
The currency's move lower, the second down day this month,
comes after it rose as high as C$1.0071 to the U.S. dollar, or
99.30 U.S. cents, on Wednesday, its highest level since July
2008, and moved tantalizingly close to being on a one-for-one
footing with the U.S. dollar.
Friday's consumer price index for February could be a
critical turning point in the market's expectations for
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 January.
If the report surprises and shows inflation higher than
expected, that could prompt speculation of an early rate hike
and be the spark that takes the currency to parity with the
greenback, analysts say.
A strong inflation report could force the Bank of Canada's
hand to raise interest rates sooner than its pledge,
conditional on inflation, to keep the overnight rate on hold
until the end of June.
Canadian bond prices firmed across the curve on Thursday
after domestic data showed foreign portfolio investment rose
more than expected in January to C$11.83 billion from C$11.14
billion in December, due mainly to strong interest in federal
government bonds. [ID:nN18180480]
"It just confirms that investors see Canada as an
attractive place to invest, which means demand for bonds may
remain strong for some time," said Sal Guatieri, senior
economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Canada Housing Trust sold C$6 billion of five-year notes,
according to a term sheet seen by Reuters. [ID:nN18224388]
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> gained 7 Canadian
cents to C$99.89 to yield 1.560 percent, while the 10-year bond
<CA10YT=RR> rose 19 Canadian cents to C$102.31 to yield 3.454
Canadian bonds outperformed their U.S. counterparts across
the curve. The difference between 10-year yields widened 4.9
basis points to 21.6 basis points.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob