CANADA FX DEBT-C$ strengthens as oil prices climb, greenback dips
* Canadian dollar at C$1.3100, or 76.34 U.S. cents * Loonie touches its strongest since Monday at C$1.3083 * Bond prices move higher TORONTO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as prices of oil, one of Canada's major exports, climbed and the greenback retreated against a basket of major currencies. Gains for the loonie came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he does not see any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement in the short-term. Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States and could suffer badly if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on promises to renegotiate NAFTA. U.S. crude prices were up 1.98 percent at $54.65 a barrel after U.S. data showed a surprise decline in inventories, suggesting that a global glut may be ending after moves by OPEC to cut production. The U.S. dollar was pressured by the lack of progress towards a near-term rise in interest rates or tax reforms and public spending that investors hope will reflate the U.S. economy. At 9:28 a.m. ET (1428 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.3100 to the greenback, or 76.34 U.S. cents, stronger than Wednesday's close of C$1.3144, or 76.08 U.S. cents. The currency's weakest level of the session was C$1.3169, while it touched its strongest since Monday at C$1.3083. Canadian average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose 1.0% in December, while the number of non-farm payroll employees increased by 39,200 for the same month, data from Statistics Canada showed. Canadian government bonds prices moved higher in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries, with the 10-year rising 29 Canadian cents to yield 1.681 percent. Canada's inflation report for January is due on Friday, with economists expecting the annual rate to edge up to 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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