Canadian dollar slides vs firmer greenback after factory data disappoints

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Friday after domestic data showed a surprise drop in factory sales, while the greenback climbed broadly on prospects of a U.S. tax overhaul.

FILE PHOTO - The new Canadian five and 10 dollar bills, made of polymer, are displayed with the previously released 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes following an unveiling ceremony at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Manufacturing sales fell 0.4 percent in October, pulled down by weak sales of autos and other transportation equipment. Analysts had forecast a 0.8 percent increase.

The U.S. dollar .DXY rose 0.5 percent against a basket of major currencies on optimism a tax bill would be passed by year-end.

The loonie got a boost on Thursday after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a speech the central bank was increasingly confident the economy will need less stimulus over time, although the currency gave up some gains after dovish remarks by Poloz in a subsequent interview.

“Just looking at the way the Bank of Canada communicates, it’s not as clear, for instance, as the Fed,” said Eric Viloria, currency strategist at Wells Fargo. “That does contribute a bit more in the price swings in the Canadian dollar.”

The Bank of Canada is leaving the door open to further interest rate hikes in early 2018, making it clear that a number of uncertainties that could derail the economy, such as NAFTA renegotiation, are a reason for caution but not inaction.

At 4 p.m. ET (2100 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.2878 to the greenback, or 77.65 U.S. cents, down 0.6 percent.

The currency’s strongest level of the session was C$1.2740, while it touched its weakest since Tuesday at C$1.2890.

For the week, the loonie dipped 0.2 percent.

The currency lost ground despite higher prices of oil, one of Canada’s major exports.

U.S. crude prices CLc1 settled 0.5 percent higher at $57.30 a barrel, supported by a pipeline outage in the North Sea.

Speculators have trimmed bullish bets on the Canadian dollar for eight of the last nine weeks, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed. As of Dec. 12, net long positions had slipped to 41,960 contracts from 42,466 a week earlier.

Canadian government bond prices were mixed across a flatter yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR down 1.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.555 percent and the benchmark 10-year CA10YT=RR rising 17 Canadian cents to yield 1.834 percent.

The gap between Canada’s 10-year yield and its U.S. equivalent widened by 2.4 basis points to a spread of -51.5 basis points.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by James Dalgleish