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Thursday June 21, 2007 - 21:49:04 GMT
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Forex Market News - Canada dollar sags on retail sales data, bonds dip

Canada dollar sags on retail sales data, bonds dip
Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:41 PM ET

By John McCrank

TORONTO, June 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar touched a three-week low against the greenback on Thursday on weaker-than-expected Canadian retail sales data, the second weak report in as many days.

Bond prices were largely weaker as the soft data did little to curb the view that the Bank of Canada will hike interest rates in the near future.

The Canadian unit closed at C$1.0747 to the U.S. dollar, or 93.05 U.S. cents, down from C$1.0670, or 93.72 U.S. cents, at Wednesday's close.

April retail sales, which followed a surprise drop in wholesale trade data on Wednesday, missed expectations with only a 0.4-percent gain from March. Analysts had expected, on average, a 1.1-percent rise.

"We had had such a string of great news and we have started to see a few holes in the system and obviously we know that there have been some concerns about a slowdown in the U.S. and we know that's going to spill into Canada," said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital.

The Canadian dollar rose to a 30-year high versus the U.S. currency earlier this month on a string of strong economic data, expectations for higher domestic interest rates, merger-related currency buying and high commodity prices.

The Canadian dollar fell as low as C$1.0760, or 92.94 U.S. cents, in Thursday's session, marking its lowest level since May 29, although some analysts are still predicting it could reach parity with the U.S. dollar.

Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Tiff Macklem said in a speech in Winnipeg on Thursday that while higher global commodity prices have made the country more prosperous, they have also caused the currency to appreciate, which can be a challenge for manufacturers who sell to foreign buyers.

Macklem made no reference to current economic policy or economic outlook in his speech.

"I think the central bank speak as of late has been a little bit worrisome to the market," said Butler.

"Not that I think the rate hike is in jeopardy next month, but I certainly think that (Bank of Canada Governor David) Dodge the other week opened up a can of worms when he mentioned the Canadian dollar and the fact that some of the recent gains have been, as he called it, unexplainable."

Last week, Dodge hinted in a speech that part of the recent gains in the Canadian dollar may have been a "Type 2" movement, caused by speculative buying rather than fundamentals.

The market is anticipating two rate hikes by the Bank of Canada in the next few months.


Bond prices failed to rally on the weak retail sales, and most instead eased, as the data were not expected to alter the current interest rate outlook in Canada.

"When you look at where bond yields are in Canada right now, they're priced on the expectation that we will see Bank of Canada rate hikes," said Eric Lascelles, strategist at TD Securities.

The two-year bond rose 2 Canadian cents at C$98.29 to yield 4.684 percent, while the 10-year bond slid 21 Canadian cents at C$95.07 to yield 4.678 percent.

The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond moved to -0.7 basis points from -4.9 at the previous close.

The 30-year bond retreated 82 Canadian cents to C$117.30 to yield 4.601 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury yielded 5.308 percent.

The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 4.36 percent, down from 4.39 percent at 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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