CANADA FX DEBT-C$ weakest in 12 years; oil, China, rate outlook weigh
(Adds strategist comment, details; updates prices) * Canadian dollar ends at C$1.3989, or 71.48 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across maturity curve By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar hit its weakest point against its U.S. counterpart since mid-2003 on Tuesday, as oil prices fell and investors fretted about the pace of growth in China and awaited word from the Bank of Canada on monetary policy divergence. The loonie, as Canada's currency is colloquially known, lost 16 percent of its value in 2015 as the Bank of Canada twice cut rates to offset the negative impact of low prices for oil, a major Canadian export. The U.S Federal Reserve, in contrast, raised rates last month for the first time in almost a decade and has signaled more hikes to come. The Canadian central bank's governor, Stephen Poloz, is to speak on the topic of "Life After Lift-off" on Thursday, with market players bracing for an updated outlook ahead of the Canadian central bank's interest rate announcement and monetary policy report on Jan. 20. "He sounded reasonably confident in mid-December and the bank has been loathe to change its tune drastically between forecast rounds, so it's not a guarantee, but the data has been almost uniformly weak," said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income and currency strategy at Royal Bank of Canada. He said a further risk for the loonie is that the Fed raises rates more rapidly than currently priced in by the market. Investor relief at intervention by China to steady its markets quickly evaporated, while oil traders brushed off rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran to push oil toward an 11-year low. The Canadian dollar settled at C$1.3989 to the greenback, or 71.48 U.S. cents, weaker than Monday's close of C$1.3941, or 71.73 U.S. cents. At one point it touched C$1.4020, its weakest level since August 2003. Canadian producer prices unexpectedly fell 0.2 percent in November from October, data from Statistics Canada showed. It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year up 4 Canadian cents to yield 0.452 percent and the benchmark 10-year rising 22.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.374 percent. Canada is scheduled to release trade data for November on Wednesday, its December employment report on Friday and a business outlook survey next Monday. (Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Paul Simao and Dan Grebler)
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