* Ends at C$1 per U.S. dollar
* Greece, less hawkish Bank of Canada report weighs
* Short-term bond prices firm after Bank of Canada report
(Updates to close, adds quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, April 22 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar ended
slightly weaker on Thursday to trade exactly at par with the
greenback as a less hawkish-than-expected policy report by the
central bank reduced some demand for the currency.
The Bank of Canada laid the groundwork to raise interest
rates from their record lows, and said it was time to start
withdrawing some of the unprecedented monetary stimulus that
helped pull Canada out of recession. [ID:nN22251878]
But the quarterly Monetary Policy Report was seen as less
aggressive than language used by the central bank on Tuesday
that left most investors convinced it will start hiking rates
in June. [ID:nN22104409]
"It wasn't quite as stridently as hawkish as the press
statement on Tuesday," said David Watt, senior currency
strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
"As a result of that, people weren't necessarily today
looking for reasons to go long, risky securities," Watt said.
Currencies usually strengthen as interest rates rise
because higher rates tend to attract capital flows.
The Canadian dollar <CAD=D4> finished at exactly C$1 to the
U.S. dollar, slightly lower than Wednesday's finish at C$0.9992
to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0008.
The currency touched a high of C$0.9961 to the U.S. dollar,
or $1.0039, in the overnight session on the lingering effects
of Tuesday's central bank statement.
The Bank of Canada is the first in the Group of Seven rich
countries to hint at an interest rate hike, possibly as early
as June 1. [ID:nN20257669] [ID:nN20103790]
Overhanging the market, however, were increased concerns
about Greece's fiscal health. Greece's 2009 budget deficit was
much bigger than previously thought, data showed on Thursday,
while Moody's Investors Service downgraded its rating of Greek
government debt. [ID:nLDE63L12] [MKTS/GLOB]
The Canadian dollar briefly firmed following the Monetary
Policy report, but had difficulty pushing higher.
However, a late day rally in U.S. stocks on a strong
corporate earnings helped lure investors back to assets
perceived to be riskier, including the Canadian currency.
Market watchers will now shift their focus to Friday's
March inflation report for potential hints on when Canada's
central bank might hike rates, currently at 0.25 percent, as
well as retail sales data. [ID:nN16132456]
"We've had a couple of upside surprises especially to core
inflation so the market will certainly be more reactive to the
core numbers," said Watt.
"If we get core lingering around 2 percent or another
upside surprise the market will probably move to greater
confidence of a June move. If it is somewhat below there will
be somewhat of a debate over July."
Most of Canada's primary securities dealers now say the
Bank of Canada will raise interest rates in June instead of
July after the bank on Tuesday dropped its conditional pledge
to hold rates steady. [CA/POLL]
Canadian bond prices were mixed, but had been higher for
most of the day on broader Greece concerns and the central
"The Canadian bond market rebounded today, led by the front
of the curve and the belly of the curve. They've been the two
areas of the curve that have been beaten up lately," said
Fergal Smith, managing market strategist at Action Economics.
"Part of it was flight to quality this morning surrounding
Greece. In addition, the Bank of Canada's MPR was less hawkish
than the market had feared."
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> was up 5 Canadian
cents at C$99.06 to yield 2.019 percent, while the 10-year bond
<CA10YT=RR> sagged 6 Canadian cents to trade at C$100.18 and
yield 3.727 percent.
Canadian government bonds mostly outperformed U.S. issues,
with the two-year yield 99 basis points above its U.S.
counterpart, compared with around 104 basis points the previous
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgso