CANADA FX DEBT-C$ hits 3-week low on economic growth fears
* C$ ends at C$0.9626 to U.S. dollar, or $1.0389
* Worried investors shift buying to greenback
* Bond prices fall after recent big gains
By Andrea Hopkins
TORONTO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar fell to a three-week low on Wednesday as worries about slowing global growth drove investors to safe havens ahead of the key U.S. jobs report on Friday.
Another round of soft U.S. economic data sent gold to its second record in two days as investors sought refuge from volatile stock markets and jitters about a widening euro zone debt crisis. [MKTS/GLOB]
Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income and currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said the currency was unlikely to regain its recent strength in the near term, in part because the Canadian dollar is seen as a riskier buy than the more liquid U.S. dollar in these volatile times.
"Even if we get quite a firm number (for U.S. payrolls) I think any sort of risk-on sentiment will be somewhat limited, so as a result Canada may have a hard time getting back to (levels) that we saw recently," Chandler said.
The Canadian dollar hit a 3-1/2 year high late last month.
The Canadian currency followed global stock market gyrations through the session, falling sharply early in the day on grim economic news from the United States before recovering some ground by the session close.
The S&P 500 .SPX fell to to a new low for the year, while Toronto stocks hit their weakest level in eight months. [.N] [.GSPTSE] But the indexes turned positive by the day's end.
The Canadian dollar CAD=D4 ended at $0.9626 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0389, just above a session low of C$0.9648. That was the Canadian dollar's lowest point since July 13 and below Tuesday's North American close of C$0.9602, or $1.0414.
Investors sought safe-havens like gold and the U.S. dollar early in the session as U.S. economic data once again came in below expectations. The U.S. services sector fell in July to its lowest level since February 2010, while new U.S. factory orders fell in June, pulled down by weak demand for transportation equipment. [ID:nN1E77208M]
The United States is Canada's largest trading partner.
The price of oil, a key Canadian export, fell more than 2 percent, pressured by rising U.S. oil inventories, mounting concern about slowing economic growth and data showing weak U.S. fuel demand that sent gasoline futures tumbling.[O/R]
"The underlying softness in equities is probably going to keep the Canadian dollar more generally on the defensive," said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at TD Securities.
"We don't have any data out in Canada for the next day or two, until the employment data on Friday, so ... we're just looking at chasing headlines and equity markets for direction."
Canadian government bond prices also were mostly weaker, taking a breather after big gains in the previous session.
The two-year Canadian government bond CA2YT=RR rose 1 Canadian cent to yield 1.250 percent, while the 10-year bond CA10YT=RR fell 30 Canadian cents to yield 2.665 percent. The 30-year bond CA30YT=RR was down 50 Canadian cents to yield 3.190 percent. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)
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