CANADA FX DEBT-C$ flat vs weaker US$ as oil and equity drops weigh
* Canadian dollar settles at C$1.3359, or 74.86 U.S. cents * Loonie touches its strongest since Feb. 28 before reversal * Bond prices higher across the yield curve By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, March 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar ended little changed against a broadly weaker U.S. counterpart on Tuesday and fell against other major currencies as lower oil prices and sharp stock market falls weighed. The loonie, as Canada's currency is colloquially known, had hit its strongest level in three weeks in morning trade after the release of stronger-than-expected domestic retail sales. "It feels like it's weak even though it's flat," said David Bradley, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotiabank. "If you look at it from the crosses, euro-Canada or sterling-Canada, they've rallied significantly today." Prices for oil, one of Canada's major exports, fell as fresh glut fears pushed U.S. crude to its lowest since November. The Canadian dollar settled at C$1.3359 to the greenback, or 74.86 U.S. cents, barely weaker than Monday's close of C$1.3354, or 74.88 U.S. cents and just off its weakest intraday level. It had touched its strongest since Feb. 28 at C$1.3265, after Canadian retail sales rebounded in January with the largest gain in nearly seven years. The 2.2 percent increase topped economists' expectations for a gain of 1.1 percent, while volumes were also robust, up 1.3 percent. Recent signs of long-awaited strengthening of domestic economic growth probably came too late to help Finance Minister Bill Morneau trim yawning annual deficits when the federal budget is released on Wednesday. The U.S. dollar sunk to a six-week low against a basket of major currencies after centrist Emmanuel Macron's performance in a television debate raised expectations he would win France's presidential election over the far-right's Marine Le Pen, boosting the euro. The Bank of Canada remains concerned about tepid business investment, a key official said, adding it is too early to assume the worst of underperformance is over despite stronger-than-expected economic growth recently. North American stock markets fell sharply as investors acted on concerns about how quickly the Trump administration can implement pro-growth policies. Canadian government bond prices rose across the yield curve, with the two-year up half a Canadian cent to yield 0.79 percent and the 10-year rising 21.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.702 percent. Canada's inflation report for February is due on Friday. (Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sandra Maler)
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