* Low of C$1.0355 to the US$, or 96.57 U.S. cents,
* Oil falls below $80 a barrel
* Bonds rally across the curve
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, May 5 (Reuters) - Canada's dollar slumped against
its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday to touch its lowest in more
than two months as fears that Greece's debt crisis may spread
to other euro-zone countries weighed on risk-related
The Canadian dollar dropped to a low of C$1.0355 to the
U.S. dollar, or 96.57 U.S. cents, its weakest since March 3, as
investors snapped up safe-haven assets such as the greenback,
gold and bonds.
Investors sold stocks and the euro as European leaders
warned on Wednesday the Greek debt crisis could spread and
unrest in Greece over austerity measures claimed its first
Also weighing against Canada's commodity-linked currency,
U.S. crude futures plunged more than 3 percent to settle below
$80 a barrel. [O/R]
"It's another risk-off trade with equities down,
commodities down and bonds rallying," said Eric Lascelles,
chief economics and rates strategist at TD Securities.
"That is traditionally an environment that is negative for
the Canadian dollar."
The Canadian dollar <CAD=D4> closed the North American
session at C$1.0297 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.12 U.S. cents,
down from Tuesday's finish at C$1.0250 to the U.S. dollar, or
97.56 U.S. cents.
A Reuters poll released on Wednesday forecasted that the
Canadian dollar will remain near parity with the greenback for
at least the next six months, but will weaken off a year from
The Canadian dollar is expected to be worth $1 in one
month, 99 U.S. cents in three months and $1 in six months from
this week, according to 49 strategists polled by Reuters.
"We still feel fairly good about the idea that the Canadian
dollar can take another run at parity and eventually crack its
way through," added Lascelles.
"Obviously it will depend on the whims of the European
fiscal crisis but the fundamentals in Canada can't be denied.
When the Bank of Canada gets moving, I think that will draw
some attention back to Canada.
Most of Canada's primary securities dealers say the Bank of
Canada will raise interest rates in June instead of July after
the the central bank last month dropped its conditional pledge
to hold rates steady. [ID:nN20111938]
"All speculative plays have come off and the Canadian
dollar has weakened because of that," said Fergal Smith,
managing market strategist at Action Economics.
"While the overall picture is consistent with the Bank of
Canada tightening, it may that it tightens less aggressively in
Higher interest rates, or the expectation of higher rates,
attract capital and tend to stoke demand for a country's
BONDS RALLY ON FLIGHT TO SAFETY
Canadian government bond prices shot higher across the
curve alongside U.S. Treasuries as deepening anxiety over the
Greek debt crisis sent investors to low-risk assets for a
second straight day. [US/]
"The flight to quality was again the major driver," said
Smith. "So Canada rallies in tandem with Treasuries and Bunds
and we again see some steeping in the curve as well.
"In Canada, the front of the curve has been bracing for
Bank of Canada rate hikes so the events in the euro zone has
helped dampen more aggressive rate hike expectations."
Bond prices typically fall when interest rates go up as
their low-yielding fixed payments seems less lucrative compared
to rising yields on other short-term investments.
The government of Canada's C$3 billion ($2.9 billion)
auction of two-year bonds on Wednesday met with healthy
appetite, supported by the country's strong fundamentals,
despite heightened fears of more sovereign debt problems in the
euro zone. [ID:nN05212583]
The 1.5 percent government of Canada bond due June 1, 2012,
produced an average yield of 1.858 percent, up from 1.30
percent at the previous two-year-bond auction. <CA/GOVT1>
The two-year Canadian government bond <CA2YT=RR> rose 5
Canadian cents to C$99.60 to yield 1.723 percent, while the
10-year bond <CA10YT=RR> gained 15 Canadian cents to C$99.68 to
yield 3.538 percent.
(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Frank McGurty)