CANADA FX DEBT-Canada dollar little changed as focus moves to Fed
* Canadian dollar at C$1.0587, or 94.46 U.S. cents * Bond prices mixed across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was little changed against the greenback on Monday as investors tried to gauge where U.S. monetary policy is heading ahead of this week's Federal Reserve policy meeting. The Fed will release a statement at the end of its two-day meeting from Dec. 17-18 with some in the market speculating the it could announce the start of a wind-down of asset purchases. The U.S. central bank is currently buying $85 billion a month in bonds, which has been a major driver of global markets this year. "It's been a very indifferent trading session, a real lack of commitment to take the market in either direction," said Gareth Sylvester, director at Klarity FX in San Francisco. A recent Reuters poll of primary dealers showed the Fed is expected to begin reducing its bond-buying program no later than March, although a few firms thought the Fed could announce a cutback as soon as this month. "There is the potential for them to do something, but I think the likelihood is they might just err on the side of caution in terms of action. But the communique might be a bit firmer, a bit more hawkish, really giving the market a very clear signal that, in January or March, we'll see a Fed tapering," Sylvester said. The Canadian dollar ended the North American session at C$1.0587 to the greenback, or 94.46 U.S. cents, modestly firmer than Monday's close of C$1.0595, or 94.38 U.S. cents. A faster timetable for the Fed is seen as a negative for the Canadian dollar because it is expected to reduce the appetite for risk and benefit the U.S. currency. In addition to uncertainty about the Fed's plans, the loonie has been hurt by a less hawkish Bank of Canada and softer oil prices recently, all of which sent the currency to a 3-1/2-year low at the beginning of the month. "Our base case is that they lay the foundation for tapering in January," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. "The one big piece that's likely to hold them back from tapering is the disinflationary environment that the U.S. economy is in." Even so, with the recent budget deal in Washington and better-than-expected jobs data, the market seems to be increasingly turning toward the potential for the Fed to start winding down this week, said Sutton. At home, data showed foreign investment in Canadian securities was roughly halved in October, with money market holdings slumping. The loonie saw little reaction to the report. Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the maturity curve, with the two-year down 1-1/2 Canadian cents to yield 1.114 percent and the benchmark 10-year off 8 Canadian cents to yield 2.674 percent.
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