CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms modestly after trade data
* Canadian dollar at C$1.1022 or 90.73 U.S. cents * Bond prices mostly higher across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, April 3 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened modestly against the greenback on Thursday, buoyed by data showing the country reported a small trade surplus in February for the first time in five months. Still, the better-than-expected data was not enough to help the loonie strengthen substantially, leaving the currency to consolidate after recent gains. The trade surplus stood at C$290 million ($264 million) as exports rose to their highest level since before the 2008 recession. Still, January's trade balance was revised lower. While the strength in exports and imports was encouraging, the figures did not yet show significant improvement, said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income and currency strategy at Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto. "We're still expecting more from exports for the quarter as a whole," said Chandler. The export sector's poor performance has been a focal point for the Bank of Canada. Last month, central bank head Stephen Poloz said he has seen no evidence yet that recent declines in the Canadian dollar were having any effect on the trade sector. The Canadian dollar was at C$1.1022 to the greenback, or 90.73 U.S. cents, firmer than Wednesday's close of C$1.1035, or 90.62 U.S. cents. Overseas, the European Central Bank kept interest rates steady despite a fall in inflation. The euro was lower against the Canadian dollar as investors took in a press conference from ECB President Mario Draghi. With Thursday's domestic data out of the way, investors were turning their attention to Friday's labor market reports on both sides of the border. In Canada, hiring is expected to have picked back up in March after the economy shed jobs in February. Canadian government bond prices were mostly higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year up half a Canadian cent to yield 1.094 percent and the benchmark 10-year up 4 Canadian cents to yield 2.547 percent. (Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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