C$ retreats as oil price slumps to nine-month low

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened on Tuesday against its U.S. counterpart, paring some of its recent gains as a drop in oil prices offset stronger-than-expected domestic wholesale trade data.

A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The loonie had surged as much as 2.5 percent since the release of stronger-than-expected jobs data earlier this month. Most of those gains came after the Bank of Canada signaled last week that higher interest rates lie ahead. On Wednesday, the currency touched its strongest point in 3-1/2 months at C$1.3165.

“I think the combination of market fatigue as well as oil” helped stall the Canadian dollar’s gains, said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

Prices of oil, one of Canada's major exports, fell on news of boosted supply by several key producers. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 2.2 percent lower at $43.23 a barrel, its lowest since September.

At 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.3264 to the greenback, or 75.39 U.S. cents, down 0.3 percent. It traded in a range of C$1.3205 to C$1.3285.

The loonie has benefited this month from short-covering after bearish bets on the currency reached a record high in May.

“To get people to keep buying it (the currency) you got to have an outright positive story that gets them long, and it’s a little hard to spin that with oil at $43 a barrel, Anderson said.

Canadian wholesale trade rose 1.0 percent in April from March, led by higher sales in the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector. Analysts had forecast a 0.5 percent increase.

The data adds to positive signs for the Canadian economy in the second quarter, said Nick Exarhos, economist at CIBC Capital Markets, in a research note.

Chances of a Bank of Canada interest rate hike as early as next month have climbed to one-in-three, from nearly zero earlier this month, while a rate hike has been fully priced in by December, data from the overnight index swaps market shows. BOCWATCH

Canadian government bond prices were higher across a flatter yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The two-year CA2YT=RR rose 5 Canadian cents to yield 0.916 percent and the 10-year CA10YT=RR climbed 34 Canadian cents to yield 1.504 percent.

The 2-year yield fell 1.1 basis points further below its U.S. equivalent to a spread of -43.2 basis points. On Monday it touched its smallest gap in nearly four months at -42.1 basis points.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman