CANADA FX DEBT-C$ eases, equities key to day's direction
* C$ dips to C$0.9742 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0265
* Bond prices flat
* Equity, commodity markets eyed for trading cue
* C$0.9770-C$0.9800 range remains key
* Flaherty to stay as Canada finance minister
TORONTO, May 18 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was mildly softer against the U.S. currency on Wednesday, while bond prices were nearly flat, after several choppy sessions tracking the equity and commodity markets.
Similar to recent days, the Canadian dollar held in a tight range ahead of the open on North American equity markets. In early dealings, the Canadian dollar traded between C$0.9707-C$0.9748, holding near the previous session's close when it recovered with Toronto's main equity index.
"The asset markets in general, despite yesterday's recovery, still feel jittery," said Shane Enright, executive director of foreign exchange sales at CIBC World Markets.
"It's still very fragile, and the currencies remain very sensitive to the pulse of that tone in risk. I think we'll take our cues once the equity markets open and once the commodities really get going now."
At 8:32 a.m. (1232 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was at C$0.9742 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0265, down from Tuesday's North American session end at C$0.9726 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0282.
Canada's two-year bond CA2YT=RR was unchanged to yield 1.636 percent, while the 10-year bond CA10YT=RR was off 1 Canadian cent to yield 3.166 percent.
The major technical area for the currency remains between C$0.9770-C$0.9800, which represents the 100-day moving average, a level it twice hasn't been able to overcome.
Enright said if the currency closed weaker than that range, it could ultimately set up for a run back towards parity with the U.S. dollar.
However, the market is showing little inclination to break it, and the Canadian dollar would have to rise through C$0.9650 to take away that threat of a new range.
The catalyst for both currency and bonds could come at the end of the week when Statistics Canada releases inflation data for April and retail sales for March.
The data are among the few last figures before the Bank of Canada's next interest rate decision on May 31. Few market players expect a rate hike at the end of the month, and increasingly, expectations of a rate hike are getting pushed later into the year.
Neither the currency nor bond prices were influenced by news that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will stay in his job after the federal government shuffle later on Wednesday. [ID:nN18232558]
Prices were also little changed after data showed Canada's composite leading indicator climbed 0.8 percent in April from March. Other data showed Canadian wholesale trade inched up 0.1 percent in March from February as declines in several sectors offset partial gains in the auto sector. [ID:nSCLIGE7CB] [ID:nSCLIGE7CC] (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)
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