CANADA FX DEBT-C$ strengthens to 1-week high as greenback tumbles
* Canadian dollar at C$1.2940, or 77.28 U.S. cents * Loonie touched its strongest since May 26 at C$1.2916 * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Fergal Smith TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a one-week high against its broadly weaker U.S. counterpart on Friday after a slowdown in U.S. jobs growth lowered chances of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, offsetting disappointing domestic data. Canada's trade deficit in April narrowed to C$2.94 billion ($2.24 billion) from a record C$3.18 billion in March as exports grew at a slightly faster rate than imports. However, the volume increase in Canadian exports "was slightly underwhelming," said Nick Exarhos, economist at CIBC Capital Markets. Exarhos had been looking for a 0.3 percent gain in gross domestic product for the month, but expects that forecast to be trimmed. Still, the Bank of Canada has already signaled that the economy may contract in the second quarter, impacted by wildfires in Alberta that cut oil production. "They (the Bank of Canada) will be keen on seeing what the bounce is in the third quarter and what the effects of fiscal stimulus is going to be," Exarhos said. A weaker currency would be welcomed by the central bank, Exarhos added, while he expects one or two rate hikes by the Fed to "act as a catalyst in weakening the Canadian dollar" despite weaker than expected U.S. employment data on Friday. The U.S. economy created the fewest number of jobs in more than five years in May, pointing to labor market weakness that could make it difficult for the Fed to raise interest rates. At 9:49 a.m. EDT (1349 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.2940 to the greenback, or 77.28 U.S. cents, much stronger than Thursday's close of C$1.3105, or 76.31 U.S. cents. The currency's weakest level of the session was C$1.3105, while it touched its strongest since May 26 at C$1.2916. Lower crude oil prices restrained gains for the commodity-linked Canadian dollar. U.S. crude prices were down 0.53 percent to $48.91 a barrel. Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year price up 7 Canadian cents to yield 0.525 percent and the benchmark 10-year rising 57 Canadian cents to yield 1.188 percent. The 10-year yield hit its lowest since April 7 at 1.175 percent. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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