* C$ falls to end at 98.39 U.S. cents despite strong data
* Bond prices fall on data despite global safe haven bid
* Canada core inflation jumps above 2 percent
* Retail sales rise by 0.7 pct in January
(Adds bond details, updates prices throughout)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, March 19 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar nearly
wiped out the week's gain against the U.S. currency in a
volatile session on Friday, rattled by a global move away from
riskier assets that took down the price of key commodities.
Earlier in the day, Canadian inflation and retail sales
data pushed the currency to its highest level since July 2008
-- C$1.0062 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.38 U.S. cents -- and it
looked primed for another step closer to parity with the U.S.
Canadian core inflation stayed unexpectedly high in
February and retailers posted solid sales gains in January, in
a pair of reports that showed the economy is heating up.
But the Canadian dollar's gains quickly reversed as the
price of oil and gold tumbled about 2 percent each on news of
an unexpected interest rate hike in India and persistent
worries about Greece's debt problems -- all of which sent
investors to the safety of the U.S. dollar. [FRX/] [O/R]
The Canadian dollar ended lower for a second straight
session at C$1.0164 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.39 U.S. cents,
down from Thursday's finish of C$1.0137 to the U.S. dollar, or
98.65 U.S. cents.
The Canadian dollar fell as low as C$1.0189 to the U.S.
dollar, or 98.15 U.S. cents, nearing its low for the week.
"Both (economic reports) blew away expectations and as a
result, there was a widespread view that the Canadian dollar
was headed towards parity. What has derailed that, certainly
for the moment, has been once again global macro issues," said
Jack Spitz, managing director of foreign exchange at National
"It's really been a widespread rally for the U.S. dollar."
Spitz said the technical and fundamental factors still
favor a return to test the Canadian dollar at a one-for-one
basis with the greenback.
"All in all parity is still on the horizon," he said.
For the week, the Canadian dollar was up 0.33 percent.
Interest-rate sensitive short-dated Canadian bond prices
fell on Friday, as the stronger-than-expected data affirmed
growing expectations of interest rate increases and despite a
global flight to safety stemming from tensions about Greece's
"It's nearing the expiry of the bank's conditional
commitment. I think domestic data is more the focus in Canada,"
said Kam Bath, fixed-income strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> dropped 13 Canadian
cents to C$99.78 to yield 1.618 percent, while the 10-year bond
<CA10YT=RR> shed 31 Canadian cents to C$102.05 to yield 3.487
Yields on overnight index swaps, which trade based on
expectations for the Bank of Canada's key policy rate, rose
after the report, showing the market saw tightening as more
likely than before the data. <BOCWATCH>.
Markets suggest there is high possibility the central bank
will hike rates by 25 basis points in July.
"The odds are growing for more aggressive policy tightening
in the second half of this year," said Sal Guatieri, senior
economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Canadian bonds mostly underperformed against their U.S.
counterparts. The difference between 10-year yields narrowed
2.3 basis points to 20.8 basis points.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Jeffrey