June 18, 2008 / 2:11 AM / 9 years ago

Canada dollar dips as investors await inflation data

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar slipped 0.3 percent against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, but remained in a tight range ahead of key data later in the week and an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve next week.

Domestic bond prices followed U.S. Treasuries higher.

At 9:24 a.m., the Canadian dollar was at C$1.0199 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.05 U.S. cents, down from C$1.0171 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.32 U.S. cents, at Tuesday's close.

In the overseas session, the currency traded in a tight range of C$1.0212 and C$1.0172, as traders were unsure which way to take it ahead of Thursday's domestic inflation report and next week's U.S. Fed decision on interest rates.

Inflation has been front and center in many investors' minds as central banks worldwide attempt to balance slowing global growth with spiking energy and food costs.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney held the bank's key lending rate steady at 3.00 percent last week, citing rising inflation, confounding expectations of Canada's primary security dealers, who had unanimously expected the central bank to ease rates.

"The CPI report is either going to justify his (Carney's) actions, or it might bring a lot of people to question what he was thinking, so it is quite an important number tomorrow," said Steve Butler, senior currency strategist at Scotia Capital.

Carney will give a speech later on Thursday in Calgary, where investors are hoping for an explanation of the bank's last decision.

"The last thing that any central banker wants is uncertainty and people second guessing him and I think we're in an age where the preference is to be much more transparent and shocking the market is not the way to go," said Butler.

"So I do think he probably has a little bit of explaining to do."

Another question holding the Canadian dollar in its tight range is whether the Fed will raise its key lending rate next week, after months of easing rates to stimulate economic growth.

"We had all kinds of crazy talk from Bernanke about inflation, inflation, inflation and the market got all fired up thinking we might see a hike from the Fed," said Butler.

"I think people now are starting to wonder if it's worth shutting down the economy because you're worried about inflation."

BOND PRICES RISE

Canadian bond prices, with no major domestic economic releases to key off, followed U.S. Treasuries higher.

"Equities are off a bit in the U.S., so that helped U.S. bonds somewhat," said Mark Chandler, fixed income specialist at RBC Capital Markets.

"We don't get any drivers, at least in Canada, until CPI and Carney tomorrow, but realistically, we're in blackout period for the Fed and it's really the FOMC statement that's the next big hurdle."

The Fed has slashed its key federal funds rate 325 basis points to 2.00 percent since last year.

Domestic data showed Canada's composite leading indicator climbed 0.2 percent in May after coming in flat or negative for the previous three months, buoyed by the housing sector and stock prices. The market had expected a 0.1 percent rise in the indicator, according to the median forecast in a Reuters survey.

The overnight Canadian Libor rate was at 2.9800 percent, down from 3.0033 percent on Tuesday.

Tuesday's CORRA rate was 2.9896 percent, up from 3.0079 percent on Monday. The Bank of Canada publishes the previous day's rate around 9 a.m. daily.

The two-year bond climbed 3 Canadian cents to C$100.92 to yield 3.258 percent. The 10-year bond gained 4 Canadian cents to C$101.26 to yield 3.832 percent.

The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond was 57.7 basis points, up from 56.2 at the previous close.

The 30-year bond rose 7 Canadian cents to C$113.70 for a yield of 4.179 percent. In the United States, the 30-year treasury yielded 4.763 percent.

The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 2.68 percent, down from 2.70 percent at the previous close.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Scott Anderson

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