CANADA FX DEBT-C$ posts modest gains as wholesale data beats
* Canadian dollar at C$1.3103 or 76.32 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve TORONTO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened marginally against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, helped in part by a rise in the value of Canadian wholesale trade in June and softening expectations of a Federal Reserve rate hike in September. Wholesale trade rebounded 1.3 percent, more than the 1 percent economists had forecast, following a 0.9 percent decline in May. The figures supported projections that June will be a more robust month for growth in Canada following a lackluster performance for much of the first half of this year. Crude prices were steady but remain a big driver for the Canadian dollar due to the country's heavy concentration of producers. U.S. prices have plunged to 6-1/2-year lows this week, just above $40 a barrel, on ongoing worries about a global supply glut coupled with potentially waning demand from major consumers like China. Investors also trimmed bets of a September rate hike, to a probability of around 40 percent from 50 percent previously, after Fed minutes indicated that policymakers were in no rush to raise interest rates. * At 9:47 a.m. EDT (1347 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.3103 to the greenback, or 76.32 U.S. cents, slightly firmer than the Bank of Canada's official close of C$1.3110, or 76.28 U.S. cents, on Wednesday. * The currency's strongest level of the session was C$1.3076, while its weakest level was C$1.3176. * Other noteworthy data included U.S. jobless claims, which showed the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, even as the trend showed the overall labor market still improving. * Market participants are keenly awaiting Canadian CPI inflation data for July and retail sales data for June, which are due at 08:30 a.m. EDT on Friday. * U.S. crude prices were up 0.17 percent to $40.87, while Brent crude lost 0.70 percent to $46.83. * The Canadian dollar is forecast to trade between C$1.3080 and C$1.3160 against the U.S. dollar during the North American session on Thursday, according to National Bank Financial. * Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year price flat to yield 0.363 percent and the benchmark 10-year rising 15 Canadian cents to yield 1.304 percent. * The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread widened to -30.0 basis points, while the 10-year spread narrowed to -79.6 basis points. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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