CANADA FX DEBT-C$ weakens to 2-week low on trade data, oil output fears

Wed May 4, 2016 4:41pm EDT
 
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* Canadian dollar at C$1.2870, or 77.70 U.S. cents
    * Loonie touches weakest level since April 18
    * Bond prices higher across maturity curve

 (New throughout, updates prices and market activity, adds
details, comments)
    By Fergal Smith and Leah Schnurr
    TORONTO/OTTAWA, May 4 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar
weakened to a two-week low against the greenback on Wednesday
after disappointing domestic trade data and as a wildfire
threatened production in the country's oil sands region.
    Broad-based gains in the U.S. dollar also hurt the loonie,
which has rallied more than 13 percent since January. Analysts
expect the currency will not be able to hold on to all of those
gains. 
    Canada's trade deficit in March unexpectedly widened to a
record C$3.41 billion ($2.66 billion) as exports sank for a
second month on widespread weakness. 
    The economy remains on track to grow more than 3 percent in
the first quarter, but the data provides a "weak handoff" going
into the second quarter, said Paul Ferley, the assistant chief
economist at Royal Bank of Canada.
    "Certainly as we move through the second quarter the Bank
(of Canada) is going to be wanting to see indications of exports
rebounding," he added.    
    Fire continued to rage through the western city of Fort
McMurray, the heart of Canada's oil sands region. At least three
oil companies have curbed activity to allow workers and others
to get to safety. 
    The cuts in production could weigh on Canada's economy in
May. Growth had already been expected to cool in the second
quarter after a strong start to the year. 
 
    The Canadian dollar ended the North American
trading session at C$1.2870 to the greenback, or 77.70 U.S.
cents, weaker than Tuesday's close of C$1.2713, or 78.66 U.S.
cents.
    The currency touched its weakest since April 18 at C$1.2886.
Over the past two sessions, it has lost more than 2 percent.
    Investors are also reassessing when the Federal Reserve
could raise interest rates again after comments from two
policymakers suggested June was a possibility. 
 
    "The market's been looking for a reason to get behind the
U.S. dollar in the last few weeks," said Lennon Sweeting, North
American FX dealer at OFX.
    "With them making it clear that a June hike is still in
play, I think that's got the market bullish on the greenback."
    Canadian government bond prices were higher across the
maturity curve, with the two-year price up 12.5
Canadian cents to yield 0.580 percent and the benchmark 10-year
 rising 55 Canadian cents to yield 1.401 percent.
    The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread was -16.2 basis points,
while the 10-year spread was -37.4 basis points as Canadian
government bonds outperformed.