CANADA FX DEBT-C$ strengthens after housing data; Fed in focus

* C$ at C$1.0531 vs US$, or 94.96 U.S. cents
    * Housing starts were better-than-expected 199,586 units in
    * Markets await Bernanke who will speak on Wednesday
    * Bond prices mixed

    By Solarina Ho
    TORONTO, July 9 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar firmed
against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday after domestic housing data
came in stronger than expected.
    The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts
was 199,586 units in June, a decrease from May, which was
revised higher to 204,616. Analysts polled by Reuters had
expected 187,000 starts in June. 
    At 8:58 a.m. (1258 GMT), the Canadian dollar, which
was mostly outperforming other major currencies, was trading at
C$1.0531 versus the greenback, or 94.96 U.S. cents. This was
stronger than shortly before the data was released and stronger
than Monday's finish at C$1.0560, or 94.70 U.S. cents.
    The moves were subdued overall however, as markets wait for
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to speak on
Wednesday. The focus will center on any indication he may give
on when the U.S. central bank will begin reining in its
stimulus. Current expectations are for sometime this fall.
    "Everything Bernanke says is critically important to the
market these days. We're seeing a lot of participants waiting
for his statement on Wednesday before putting on much trading
activity," said Blake Jespersen, managing director, foreign
exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets.
    "In Canadian dollar terms, we do expect some more weakness,
but it already has moved quite a bit now and we think it is
trying to find somewhat of a bottom around these levels."
    Jespersen said C$1.05 to C$1.0650 appears to be the range
for Canada's dollar over the next little while.
    Prices for Canadian government debt were mixed, with the
two-year bond adding one Canadian cent to yield 1.157
percent and the benchmark 10-year bond shedding 13
Canadian cents to yield 2.490 percent.