CANADA FX DEBT-C$ gains despite oil drop as Fed's Yellen talks caution

Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:35pm EDT
 
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(Adds strategist comment, details on Fed; updates prices)
    * Canadian dollar settles at C$1.3065, or 76.54 U.S. cents
    * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve

    By Alastair Sharp
    TORONTO, March 29 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar
strengthened to a near one-week high against its U.S.
counterpart on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
said the U.S. central bank should proceed "cautiously" with rate
hikes. 
    The comments offset factors that would have otherwise
weighed on the Canadian currency, including a drop in oil prices
and soft domestic data, and also repudiated more hawkish
statements from other Fed officials in recent days. 
    "It's really now or never for them to raise one more time or
maybe two more times, and I just don't think that's going to
happen," said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign
exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets.
    The Fed raised rates in December for the first time in
nearly a decade but has since paused its tightening, downgraded
its economic expectations and cut its prediction to two hikes
this year from four eyed in December.
    The Canadian dollar settled at C$1.3065 to the
greenback, or 76.54 U.S. cents, much stronger than Monday's
close of C$1.3181, or 75.87 U.S. cents, touching its strongest
level since March 23.
    The currency rose despite a drop in oil prices of some 3
percent, reflecting growing concern a two-month rally was fading
as demand fails to keep up with swelling global supply. 
    The currency also brushed off the largest drop in Canadian
producer prices in more than a year in February. 
    A more cautious Fed and oil holding on to recent gains could
help the Canadian currency make further gains.
    "If the Fed stance remains as is and oil continues to push
above $40 then you're going to see the Canadian dollar probably
at C$1.25," BMO's Jespersen said, adding C$1.38 would likely
prove stiff resistance for any renewed Canadian dollar weakness.
    January gross domestic product data is due on Thursday, with
analysts expecting 0.3 percent growth for the month, which would
reinforce expectations that first-quarter growth will exceed the
Bank of Canada's forecast of 1 percent. 
    U.S. jobs data on Friday will also be closely watched for
its implications for the Fed.
    Canadian government bond prices were higher across the
maturity curve, with the two-year price up 10.5
Canadian cents to yield 0.513 percent. The benchmark 10-year
 rose 69 Canadian cents to yield 1.179 percent, its
lowest level in three weeks.

 (Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn
and Diane Craft)