Statscan says no evidence of leak despite C$ rise before inflation data

Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:29pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, March 27 (Reuters) - A sharp rally in the Canadian dollar minutes before Wednesday's release of key inflation data sparked market talk that the report had been leaked, an idea Canada's statistics agency played down.

It was not the first time traders have speculated about a leak of Canadian data. Statistics Canada, the federal government agency, investigated similar reports in 2009, but found no evidence that its staff or any media outlets had leaked data. But at the same time it beefed up security measures.

Wednesday's latest speculation centered on February inflation numbers, which came in much higher than expected and caused a brief surge in the Canadian dollar.

"Statistics Canada confirms that this morning's release of the consumer price index occurred as per standard procedures. No issues were detected," the government agency said in response to an email asking whether it was looking into the possibility of a leak.

But traders said the Canadian dollar began strengthening ahead of the 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) data release time, and then gained further on the actual number.

"USD/CAD was so bid all morning, trading up in the mid-90s. And then 15 minutes before the data came out, none of the other markets were moving and USD/CAD came off 20 points," said David Bradley, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotiabank.

"It certainly had traded like somebody knew what the number was before it was released," he said, adding that other traders he's spoken with have made similar observations.