CANADA FX DEBT-C$ weakens to 1-week low as oil prices fall
* Canadian dollar at C$1.3291, or 75.24 U.S. cents * Currency touches its weakest since March 16 at C$1.3292 * Bond prices mixed across flatter maturity curve TORONTO, March 24 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened to a fresh one-week low against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as lower oil prices weighed, while Federal Reserve rate hike speculation added to pressure on the risk-sensitive commodity-linked currency. The currency has weakened 2.8 percent since touching last week its strongest in nearly five months at C$1.2924. Oil headed for its biggest weekly slide in two months, dented by record-high stockpiles in the United States and a stronger dollar. U.S. crude prices were down 3.22 percent to $38.51 a barrel. The greenback climbed for a fifth consecutive day against a basket of major currencies as investors moved to price in the possibility of two U.S. rate hikes this year. However, a drop in shipments of U.S. core capital goods could prompt economists to trim U.S. first-quarter GDP growth estimates. At 9:19 a.m. EDT (1319 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.3291 to the greenback, or 75.24 U.S. cents, weaker than Wednesday's close of C$1.3214, or 75.68 U.S. cents. The currency's strongest level of the session was C$1.3201, while it touched its weakest since March 16 at C$1.3292. A stimulus budget from Canada's new Liberal government, combined with a modest recovery in oil and non-commodity exports, makes it likely the Bank of Canada's next move will be an interest rate hike rather than a cut. However, the fiscal measures announced this week had little impact on the currency, with the C$29.4 billion shortfall close to what analysts had expected. Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the maturity curve, with the two-year price flat to yield 0.561 percent and the benchmark 10-year rising 10 Canadian cents to yield 1.236 percent. The curve flattened in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries, as the spread between the 2-year and 10-year yields narrowed by 1.2 basis points to 67.5 basis points, indicating outperformance for longer-dated maturities. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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