CANADA FX DEBT-C$ boosted by soft U.S. data, firms to 4-mth high
* Canadian dollar at C$1.1953 or 83.66 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve TORONTO, May 13 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar on Wednesday hit its strongest level since mid-January against its U.S. counterpart, following disappointing U.S. economic data that pushed the greenback to nearly three-month lows against a basket of major currencies. The loonie extended earlier gains that were helped by higher crude prices. U.S. stockpiles fell for a second straight week, a sign the world's biggest oil market could be rebalancing. U.S. retail sales missed forecasts in April, holding steady as households scaled back big-ticket purchases such as cars. Meanwhile, April import prices in the United States fell for a 10th straight month, likely due to the strong U.S. dollar. Market participants were hoping for more upbeat signs of an improving second quarter following a soft first quarter. Both data sets could fuel expectations the Federal Reserve will hold off hiking interest rates anytime soon. * At 9:05 a.m. EDT (1305 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.1953 to the greenback, or 83.66 U.S. cents, stronger than the Bank of Canada's official close of C$1.2018, or 83.21 U.S. cents. * The currency hit C$1.1928 shortly after the data was released, breaking through the recent C$1.1940 barrier, and the loonie's strongest level since January 15, 2015. Its weakest level of the session was C$1.2028. * U.S. retail sales were flat in April versus expectations of a 0.2 percent growth. Figures for March were revised up, however, to show a 1.1 percent increase versus the previously report 0.9 percent. * U.S. import prices fell 0.3 percent in April, after slipping 0.2 percent in March. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 0.3 percent. Export prices fell 0.7 percent, compared with expectations of a 0.1 percent rise. * U.S. crude prices were up 0.95 percent to $61.33, while Brent crude added 0.69 percent to $67.32. * The Canadian dollar, which was underperforming many of its key currency counterparts, is expected to trade between C$1.1920 and C$1.2030 against the U.S. dollar during the North American session, RBC Capital Markets. * Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year price up 4 Canadian cents to yield 0.674 percent and the benchmark 10-year rising 38 Canadian cents to yield 1.759 percent. * The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread was 10.6 basis points, while the 10-year spread was -45.9 basis points. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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