July 17, 2009 / 9:30 PM / 8 years ago

C$ ticks up, has first weekly gain in 5 weeks

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar climbed a bit against the greenback in muted trade on Friday, logging its first weekly gain in five weeks as optimism about economic recovery spurred investors to greater risk.

“The story is that the currency has had one of its best weeks in some time, hoisted by improved risk appetite and rising energy prices,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Strength on North American stock markets through the week set a positive tone for the currency, inspiring the market to move away from the safe-haven U.S. dollar. Rising stocks are typically seen as a sign investors are willing to take on greater risk.

“Risk appetite was whetted by the string of better than expected earnings reports from the U.S., especially in the banking sector,” Guatieri said.

Another factor helping the Canadian dollar on Friday was a 2.5 percent runup in the price oil to $63.56 a barrel, boosted in part by reassuring U.S. housing data.

The Canadian dollar barely budged after data showed the annual inflation rate turned negative in June for the first time since November 1994. The figures were right in line with forecasts in a Reuters survey of analysts.

“It was really quiet today because the inflation numbers came out right as expected, across the board. That for the most part set the tone for a fairly uneventful trading day,” said George Davis, chief technical strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

The Canadian dollar finished at C$1.1161 to the U.S. dollar, or 89.60 U.S. cents, up from C$1.1172 to the U.S. dollar, or 89.51 U.S. cents, at Thursday’s close.

The Canadian dollar was up 4.4 percent for the week, the first weekly gain in five weeks.

“We’ve seen a shift in sentiment. It’s become more positive again and I think the market in general has been more open to taking on additional levels of risk,” Davis said.

“That more positive sentiment has been the main factor that has kicked the Canadian dollar higher this week.”

Next week, traders will be eyeing Tuesday’s Bank of Canada interest rate announcement and the bank’s Monetary Policy Report on Thursday, when a forecast of a slightly less dismal economy could surface.

BONDS LOWER

Canadian bond prices were lower, following U.S. Treasury prices, which fell on Friday after the government said U.S. housing starts rose in June.

“We’re lower on the long end because of stronger than expected U.S. housing starts report,” Guatieri said.

“It’s a sign that the U.S. housing market is stabilizing, if not slowly recovering, and adds weight to the view that the U.S. economy will emerge from recession later this year.”

The two-year Canada bond was down 1 Canadian cent at C$100.07 to yield 1.211 percent, while the 10-year bond fell 53 Canadian cents to C$102.12 to yield 3.493 percent.

The 30-year bond was down 95 Canadian cents to C$116.40 to yield 4.016 percent. In the United States, the 30-year Treasury yielded 4.5460 percent.

Canadian bonds mostly outperformed U.S. Treasuries across the curve. The Canadian 30-year bond was 53 basis points below the U.S. 30-year yield, compared with about 48 basis points below on Thursday.

Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway

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