(Adds strategist quotes and details on activity; updates prices) * Canadian dollar RISES 0.3 percent against the greenback * Loonie touches its strongest since March 21 at 1.3297 * Price of U.S. oil rises 2.4 percent * Canadian bond prices fall across a steeper yield curve By Fergal Smith TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a nearly two-week high against the greenback on Monday as oil prices rose and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said there are clear signs that Canada is adjusting to global trade uncertainties. Poloz said that the economic outlook continues to warrant an interest rate below the neutral range, which the central bank estimates at between 2.50 percent and 3.50 percent, but noted that recent data suggest that the period of slow growth will be temporary. Data on Friday showed that gross domestic product climbed by 0.3 percent in January from December, which was much stronger than economists expected. "It looks like Friday's GDP data is mostly what's driving the price action," said Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Canada and Monex Europe. "Any sort of hyperventilation about the Canadian economy really slowing to the point of where it was a contraction or the Bank of Canada would need to ease, any narratives like that are overplayed." Chances of an interest rate cut this year have fallen to about 30 percent from nearly 70 percent before Friday's GDP report. While data on Monday showed that Canada's manufacturing sector expanded in March at the slowest pace in two and a half years, upbeat Chinese and U.S. manufacturing data helped boost the price of price of oil, one of Canada's major exports. U.S. crude oil futures settled 2.4 percent higher at $61.59 a barrel. At 4:04 p.m. (2004 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.3 percent higher at 1.3313 to the greenback, or 75.11 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest intraday level since March 21 at 1.3297. The gain for the loonie follows a 2.2 percent advance in the first quarter, which was the best performance in the G10. It was a positive start to a month in which the currency has had a winning streak. The currency has gained in April in 11 of the last 13 years, a sequence strategists link to seasonal vitality in stocks and energy products. On Friday, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed that speculators have cut their bearish bets on the Canadian dollar. Canadian government bond prices were lower across a steeper yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year was down 74 Canadian cents to yield 1.703 percent. (Reporting by Fergal Smith Editing by Susan Thomas and Grant McCool)
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