CANADA FX DEBT-C$ hits 12-year low as oil slides, business sentiment sours

Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:57pm EST
 
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(Adds analyst quotes, details on business sentiment; updates
prices)
    * Canadian dollar at C$1.4223, or 70.31 U.S. cents
    * Currency drops to a fresh 12-year low
    * Bond prices mixed across the maturity curve
    * Curve steepens in sympathy with U.S. Treasury curve

    By Fergal Smith
    TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar dropped to a
fresh 12-year low against its U.S. counterpart on Monday,
pressured by a plunge in crude oil prices and evidence that
Canadian business sentiment has deteriorated.
    The combination of negative factors added to pressure on the
Bank of Canada to take further action after having cut interest
rates twice in 2015. The market has fully discounted a 25 basis
point rate cut by mid-year. 
    "There are only two types of news for the Canadian dollar
right now - bad news and worse news - and it was mostly the
latter today," said Adam Button, currency analyst at ForexLive
in Montréal.
    A brutal selloff in oil markets quickened on Monday, with
prices plunging to new 12-year lows as further ructions in
China's stock market threatened to knock crude as low as $20 a
barrel. 
    "Given the decline in oil today, it is impressive that the
Canadian dollar hasn't fallen further," said Button.
    The negative effects of lower oil and commodity prices have
caused business sentiment in Canada to deteriorate over the last
three months, the Bank of Canada's quarterly Business Outlook
Survey found. 
    "The market is deeply skeptical that the Bank of Canada's
forecast for growing Canadian exports will come to fruition,"
said Button.
    The Canadian dollar ended at C$1.4223, or 70.31
U.S. cents, weaker than the Bank of Canada's official close of
C$1.4149, or 70.68 U.S. cents.
    The currency's strongest level of the session was C$1.4065,
while it hit its weakest level since May 2003 at C$1.4245.
    Adding to the headwind for the Canadian dollar, a report
from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp showed the
seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell to
172,965 units in December from an upwardly revised 212,028 units
in November. Forecasters had expected 200,000 starts.
    
    U.S. crude prices settled at $31.41 a barrel, down
5.3 percent, while Brent crude lost 6.8 percent to
$31.28. 
    Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the
maturity curve, with the two-year price up 4.5
Canadian cents to yield 0.393 percent and the benchmark 10-year
 falling 23 Canadian cents to yield 1.323 percent.
    The curve steepened as the spread between the 2- and 10-year
yields widened by 4.8 basis points to 93.0 basis points,
indicating underperformance for longer-dated maturities.
    The Canada-U.S. 10-year bond spread also widened,  1.8 basis
points to -85.1 basis points as U.S. Treasuries underperformed.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Nick Zieminski and G
Crosse)