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Friday June 1, 2007 - 21:46:57 GMT
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Forex Market News - Canada dollar tops 94 U.S. cents on Harper remarks

Canada dollar tops 94 U.S. cents on Harper remarks
Fri Jun 1, 2007 5:10 PM ET

By Cameron French

TORONTO, June 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar charged higher on Friday, achieving yet another benchmark versus the U.S. dollar, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government wouldn't interfere in the currency's rise.

Bond prices mostly lower on strong U.S. data.

The currency finished at C$1.0613 to the U.S. dollar, or 94.22 U.S. cents, up from C$1.0696, or 93.49 U.S. cents, at Thursday's close.

Harper also said he won't change investment rules so that Alcan Inc. can fight off a US$28 billion hostile takeover bid by U.S. rival Alcoa .

Analysts said Harper's comments further emboldened traders who have driven the currency up more than 10 percent over the past 2 1/2 months to levels not seen in nearly 30 years.

"Harper was essentially declaring that Canada is still open for business," said Shaun Osborne, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in Toronto.

Foreign-led mergers have been a main reason for the currency's rise as buyers must finance the cash components of the deals with Canadian dollars.

The currency rose as high as C$1.0598, or 94.36 U.S. cents, topping 94 U.S. cents for the first time since July 1977.

The Canadian dollar's rapid rise has meant technical analysts have no recent chart levels by which to gauge likely resistance points for the currency, a development that actually opens the door for more rapid gains.

And while the one-way trade means the currency will have to consolidate its gains at some point, Osborne does not expect a major pullback any time soon.

"It does look very overbought, and we are likely going to see a bounce at some point," he said.

"But we're not going to get back to C$1.14 or C$1.15 any time soon, I don't think."

He noted the currency's gains have accelerated in recent sessions, following a hawkish interest-rate statement from the Bank of Canada on Tuesday and stronger-than-expected domestic growth data released on Thursday.

CIBC World Markets said on Friday it expects the Canadian dollar will hit parity with the U.S. greenback by the end of 2007 due to M&A flows, expected interest rate hikes, and strong commodity prices, which increase the wealth of Canada's resource-producing Western region.

In a note, CIBC economist Jeff Rubin said the stronger currency will be welcomed by the Bank of Canada, as it will cool rising inflation.

BONDS WEAKER

Bond prices mostly eased, following the lead of U.S. treasuries on strong U.S. labor and manufacturing data.

Bonds have also been pressured of late by expectations of interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada this summer.

Economists now forecast rate hikes in July and September, following the Bank of Canada's statement on Tuesday that tightening will be needed in the "near term" to cool inflation.

Bond price and interest rates typically move in opposite directions.

The two-year bond slid 5 Canadian cents to C$98.40 to yield 4.602 percent, while the 10-year bond retreated 19 Canadian cents to C$96.23 to yield 4.515 percent.

The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond was -8.7 basis points, compared with -8.6 basis points at the previous close.

The 30-year bond climbed 12 Canadian cents to C$121.10 to yield 4.382 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury yielded 5.064 percent.

The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 4.32 percent, unchanged from the previous close.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

 

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