Canada dollar hits parity, retreats; bonds slip
By Lynne Olver
TORONTO, Sept 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar scrambled
above parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time in 31
years on Thursday, fired by sky-high commodity prices as well
as a broadbased drop in the greenback, but it did not maintain
that level for long.
Canadian bond prices fell with U.S. treasuries as U.S.
weekly jobless claims and high oil prices stoked inflation
After days of anticipation, the Canadian currency briefly
broke through the dollar-for-dollar level in the morning,
rising as high as C$0.9996 to the U.S. dollar, or US$1.0004,
It took another stab at parity the afternoon, rising to
C$0.9992 to the U.S. dollar, or US$1.0008, and again eased
The Canadian currency closed at C$1.0013 to the U.S.
dollar, or 99.87 U.S. cents, up from C$1.0152 to the U.S. unit,
or 98.50 U.S. cents, at Wednesday's close.
The historic equal footing -- last hit in November 1976 --
follows a 62 percent rise in the Canadian currency from early
2002, when it languished at 61.75 U.S. cents.
The move has shifted debate in currency and economic
circles from when parity would be reached, to how much higher
the currency might push.
"I don't think there's any reason to say this is it,"
Scotia Capital currency strategist Steve Butler said.
"The fundamentals are so strong right now for Canada, and
the U.S. dollar's obviously suffering quite extensively."
The U.S. unit's fall against major currencies -- including
a record low against the euro on Thursday -- amid surging oil
and metal prices, spurred movement in the North American
The U.S. Federal Reserve's 50 basis point rate cut on
Tuesday has hurt sentiment toward the U.S. dollar around the
world, while oil continued its recent record-setting streak,
closing at $83.32 a barrel in New York and helping energy
exporting countries such as Canada.
But lower oil prices could prove to be the Canadian
dollar's downfall, especially when fears abate over possible
supply disruptions from hurricanes, said Gabriel de Kock,
currency economist at Citigroup in New York.
"Yes, Canada has a lot of oil but it is not yet Saudi
Arabia," de Kock said. Based on prices for oil futures
contracts, he concludes that the Canadian dollar is
"overshooting" where fundamentals suggest it should trade,
which he said was in the area of 91 to 95 U.S. cents..
Gold prices, which also tend to help the Canadian dollar
because of domestic gold production, hit a 28-year high.
Canadian bond prices fell alongside U.S. treasuries again,
after a surprise drop in U.S. weekly jobless claims added to
fears that the U.S. half-point rate cut earlier this week plus
high oil prices could lead to inflation down the road.
Long-dated bonds fell for the third straight session.
The two-year bond fell 13 Canadian cents to C$99.06 to
yield 4.330 percent, while the 10-year bond fell 65 Canadian
cents to C$96.20 to yield 4.487 percent.
The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond
moved to 15.7 basis points from 15.4 at the previous close.
The 30-year bond dropped C$1.23 to C$107.63 to
yield 4.529 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury
yielded 4.969 percent.
The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 4.10 percent, up
from 4.09 percent at the previous close.