CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms on Greece, U.S. optimism
* C$ at C$0.9910 vs US$, or $1.0090 * Greece, U.S. economy hopes boost sentiment * Bond prices higher across curve By Jon Cook TORONTO, March 21 (Reuters) - The resource-linked Canadian dollar firmed against the U.S. currency on Wednesday after Greece's lawmakers approved a second bailout deal and investors looked to further signs of U.S. economic strength to help ease concerns about China. Canada's dollar got an overnight bounce after Athens rubber stamped a second 130 billion euro ($172.15 billion) rescue, previously approved by the International Monetary Fund and Greece's euro zone partners, to keep the debt-choked country afloat through 2014. "We received 5.9 billion euros from the euro zone and 1.6 billion euros from the IMF," a finance ministry official told Reuters. The news helped the Canadian dollar rebound after worries about a slowdown in demand from top metals consumer China pushed the currency to a near two-week low on Wednesday. "We had a nasty run up yesterday that probably cleansed a few shorts out," said Steve Butler, a director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital. "Risk is back on this morning and Canada is looking good." At 8:35 a.m. (1235 GMT), the Canadian dollar was at C$0.9910 versus the U.S. dollar, or $1.0090, up slightly from Tuesday's North American session close at C$0.9918 versus the U.S. dollar, or $1.0083. Markets awaited U.S. February existing home sales figures due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) for signs excess inventory in the housing market is diminishing. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a rise to 4.62 million unit sales from 4.57 million in January. "A slightly better number will continue to keep the motivation that the U.S. economy has really turned the corner," said Butler. He added that continued signs of U.S. strength could force U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to start raising the central bank's key interest rate before the 2014 target he mentioned back in January. On Tuesday, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank said he could see an argument for initiating rate increases as soon as this year. The slow grind upward of the economy in the U.S. - Canada's largest trading partner - has helped the Canadian dollar outperform most global currencies in recent weeks. On Wednesday it continued that trend, gaining against other commodity-weighted currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars. An improvement in risk sentiment pushed Canadian bond prices higher across the curve. The two-year bond was up 2 Canadian cents to yield 1.283 percent. The 10-year bond rose 3 Canadian cents to yield 2.279 percent.
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