CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms on Bank of Canada rethink; Fed meeting awaited

Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:34pm EST
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* Canadian dollar at C$1.0595 or 94.38 U.S. cents
    * Bond prices mixed across the maturity curve
    * Fed meeting next week in view on possible taper

    By Leah Schnurr
    TORONTO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened
against the greenback in choppy trading on Friday as investors
were encouraged that recent comments from the Bank of Canada
were not as dovish as some had anticipated.
    Market attention was also focused on next week's two-day
meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve and whether the central bank
will decide to start winding down its economic stimulus, which
has been a major driver of global markets this year.
    At home, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz on Thursday
said the central bank is likely to keep interest rates on hold
"for quite some time," dampening talk that it was edging closer
to cutting rates in order to combat low inflation.
    The perception that the Bank of Canada is becoming more
dovish has weighed on the loonie since late October when the
central bank dropped its long-held rate hike bias. Since then,
the Canadian currency has lost about 3 percent.
    Poloz on Thursday called that policy change a shift to
honesty rather than dovishness.
    "He probably wasn't as dovish as some people were expecting,
(and) again highlighted the neutrality of the Bank of Canada,"
said Scott Smith, senior market analyst at Cambridge Mercantile
Group in Calgary.
    "That's taking some of the pressure off the Canadian dollar,
although the Fed next week is still going to be the main focus."
    The Canadian dollar ended the North American
session at C$1.0595 to the greenback, or 94.38 U.S. cents,
stronger than Thursday's close at C$1.0640, or 93.98 U.S. cents.
    The loonie was also stronger against most other major
currencies, including the pound and the euro.
    Markets will remain fixated on what the Fed will decide at
its meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, its last policy meeting of
the year. Investors are trying to gauge whether the central bank
will start to scale back its bond purchases next week or hold
off until the new year.
    Recent stronger-than-expected economic data and a budget
deal in Washington have increased speculation tapering could get
under way next week. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion in
bonds a month. 
    A faster timetable for the Fed is seen as a negative for the
Canadian dollar as it is expected to reduce risk appetite and
benefit the U.S. currency.
    The loonie should see a range of the mid-C$1.05 level to
C$1.0630 heading into the Fed statement, while C$1.07 will be
the level to watch if the Fed does trim its bond purchases,
Smith said.
    Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the
maturity curve, with the two-year off 1 Canadian cent
to yield 1.104 percent and the benchmark 10-year up
2 Canadian cents to yield 2.664 percent.