* Ends at C$0.9991 to the US$, or $1.0009
* Canada core inflation data softer than expected
* Bonds edge higher across curve
(Updates to close, adds quotes)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar rebounded
to finish just above parity with the U.S. currency on Friday,
lifted by a weaker greenback and firmness in commodity and
The currency fought back from a low of C$1.0066 to the U.S.
dollar, or 99.34 U.S cents, as the price of oil climbed above
$85 a barrel following positive U.S. economic data, including
March home sales figures. [O/R] [ID:nN23141873]
Gold and base metals also got a lift, in part on the weaker
U.S. dollar. [FRX/]
North American equity markets ended on a firmer tone with
U.S. stocks higher, lifted by energy and healthcare issues,
while Toronto's resource-laden index drew support from higher
underlying commodity prices. [.N] [.TO]
The currency ended the session at C$0.9991 to the U.S.
dollar, or $1.0009, up from Thursday's finish at exactly C$1 to
the U.S. dollar. It was up 1.4 percent for the week.
Earlier, the Canadian dollar slid as inflation and retail
sales data came in weaker than expected, dimming the chances
the Bank of Canada would hike interest rates aggressively.
Currencies usually strengthen as interest rates rise as
higher rates attract capital flows.
"I think, generally, we have a weaker U.S. dollar and we
have a jump higher in oil prices, so that's all helping the
Canadian dollar. I think the market had to get over the initial
knee-jerk reaction to the softer than expected CPI data," said
Camilla Sutton, currency strategist at Scotia Capital.
A government report showed the annual core inflation rate,
closely watched by the central bank, eased in March to 1.7
percent from 2.1 percent in February. [ID:nN23101741]
The softer reading could reduce the chances of an
aggressive, near-term rate hike campaign by the central bank,
said Firas Askari, head of foreign exchange trading at BMO
"The fact that it's lower than the market expected means
that the bank may not have to raise as aggressively as the
market had anticipated," said Askari.
"Many of the factors that caused a push-up in CPI (in
February) were viewed as temporary and very much related to the
Vancouver Olympics," he added.
Also weighing on the currency was data that showed retail
sales rose less than expected in February.
Retail sales rose for a third consecutive month, climbing
0.5 percent from January on higher sales of cars and parts.
However, analysts had expected a gain of 0.8 percent in overall
Earlier this week, the currency rose as high as C$0.9931 to
the U.S. dollar, or $1.0069, its strongest level since June
2008, on speculation that the Bank of Canada may soon raise
The bank said earlier this week it was time to start
withdrawing some of the stimulus that helped pull Canada out of
It said it was no longer promising, so long as inflation is
in check, to keep its key rate at a record low 0.25 percent
until the end of this quarter. Its next rate announcement is
DATA BOOSTS BOND PRICES
Canadian bond yields jumped this week following the hawkish
language from the Bank of Canada on the assumption the bank
might raise rates sooner and steeper than previously expected.
But yields edged lower following Friday's domestic economic
"This softer number here might temper some of those
expectations," said Kam Bath, fixed income strategist at RBC
Capital Markets, referring to the inflation report.
Overnight index swaps, which trade based on expectations
for the Bank of Canada's key policy rate, edged lower after the
inflation data, showing the market saw tightening as slightly
less likely than before. <BOCWATCH>.
Still, the market was pricing about a 90 percent
probability that the central bank will raise interest rates by
0.25 percent in June.
The two-year Canadian government bond <CA2YT=RR> was up 7
Canadian cents at C$99.13 to yield 1.984 percent, while the
10-year bond <CA10YT=RR> rose 23 Canadian cents to C$100.38 to
yield 3.701 percent.
Canadian government bonds mostly outperformed U.S. issues,
with the two-year yield 91 basis points above its U.S.
counterpart, compared with around 99 basis points the previous
(Editing by Rob Wilson)