* Touches low of C$1.0182 to US$, or 98.21 U.S. cents
* C$ could be under pressure for next few days
* Bonds higher across the curve
(Updates to close of North American session)
By John McCrank
TORONTO, April 27 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar <CAD=>
dropped more than a 1-1/2 cents against the greenback on
Tuesday on fears about sovereign debt levels in Europe after
Standard & Poor's slashed Greece's debt rating to junk status,
which spurred a flight to safety in the U.S. dollar.
Canadian bond prices rose across the curve on the
downgrade, as well as a cut to Portugal's rating, as equities
sold off and investors sought the stability of Canadian debt.
The Canadian currency ended the North American session at
C$1.0176 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.27 U.S. cents, down from
Monday's finish at C$1.0014 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.86 U.S.
cents. The currency touched a low of C$1.0182 to the U.S.
dollar, or 98.21 U.S. cents.
It was the biggest one-day drop for the Canadian dollar
since late January.
"The Canadian dollar has lost over a cent on the day and
the majority of that move came the instant the downgrades were
announced," said Eric Lascelles, chief economics and rates
strategist at TD Securities.
The S&P cut Greece's rating, citing concerns about the euro
zone country's ability to implement reforms to slash its
massive debt. [ID:nLDE63P1EG]
Portugal was downgraded on worries about its ability to
deal with high debt levels due to its weak economic outlook.
Lascelles said the moves led investors to favor the U.S.
dollar at the expense of almost every other currency due to the
greenback's traditional safe haven status.
The concerns in Europe also helped lead to a nearly 2
percent drop in the price of oil, which is major Canadian
export and often influences the strength of the country's
Camilla Sutton, a currency strategist at Scotia Capital,
said the euro-zone concerns may mean the Canadian dollar will
be under pressure in the short term, but that a recovery is
"In the next few days, certainly, risk will be elevated in
the system, which would imply we will see a weaker Canadian
dollar," she said. "Though I think in the long term, the trend
is still in place and the economic fundamentals, as well as the
sovereign position of Canada, are still there to see a strong
Lascelles said the Canadian dollar would likely take "a bit
of a breather," but should remain fairly close to parity.
BOND PRICES RALLY
Canadian bond prices were sharply higher on safe-haven
buying, as were most other bond markets.
"The bond markets of the world have united in enjoying
quite a strong bid," Lascelles said.
"The global risk aversion story is back on the front burner
with the Greece and Portugal downgrades and that's where the
concern is lying right now and investors are simply seeking
safety in the general sense."
Looking forward, the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to make an
interest rate decision on Wednesday.
While no one expects the Fed to move rates, investors will
be listening carefully for any indication of when the central
bank might start raising them from their record low levels.
There is no major Canadian economic data until the end of
the week, when gross domestic product data from February will
The two-year Canadian government bond <CA2YT=RR> was up 12
Canadian cents at C$99.26 to yield 1.913 percent, while the
10-year bond <CA10YT=RR> jumped 59 Canadian cents to C$101.15
to yield 3.601 percent.
Canadian government bonds underperformed U.S. issues, with
the 10-year yield 13.1 basis points below its U.S.
(Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Peter Galloway)