* Wholesale trade data, oil-price fall push currency lower
* C$ at lowest vs euro, pound and franc since late 2011
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar fell to its weakest against the U.S. dollar in nearly two weeks and dropped to its lowest against major European currencies since late 2011 on Tuesday, hurt by weak domestic data and a fall in the price of U.S. crude oil.
The currency also took a hit as Canadian government bond yields fell from highs reached on Monday. Lower yields tend to reduce a currency’s appeal because they are less likely to attract international capital flows.
“At the margins all these developments haven’t been helpful for the Canadian dollar,” said Greg Moore, currency strategist at TD Securities.
Prices for Canadian government debt were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year bond up 6 Canadian cents to yield 1.192 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond rose 48 Canadian cents to yield 2.684 percent.
Yields on 10- and 30-year Canadian government bonds hit their highest levels in more than two years on Monday.
Investors were also bracing for Wednesday’s release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting, which could provide insight into the central bank’s thinking on when and how to reduce its massive monetary stimulus.
Central bankers from around the world gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming later in the week but in a break with tradition Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will not attend.
“It makes sense that we consolidate a little bit at least before we see some more evidence potentially from the minutes tomorrow or Jackson Hole later this week,” TD’s Moore said.
Data on Tuesday showing Canadian domestic wholesale trade fell by a larger-than-expected 2.8 percent in June from May was a blow to the Canadian dollar.
“That was a soft number,” said David Bradley, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotiabank. “That’s part of the reason behind the weakness” and follows other recent weak data suggesting that second-quarter gross domestic product will disappoint, he said.
Also hitting the currency, U.S. crude oil futures fell ahead of the front month contract’s expiration and after shipments were halted on a major pipeline route. Canada is a major exporter of crude oil to the United States.
The loonie tumbled 1.3 percent against the euro, 0.8 percent versus the British pound and 1.4 percent against the Swiss franc, hitting levels last seen in late 2011.
The Canadian dollar ended the day down less than half a percent at C$1.0389 versus the greenback, or 96.26 U.S. cents, just off the low it hit after the release of the wholesale trade data, which was its weakest level since Aug. 8. The currency closed on Monday at C$1.0342, or 96.69 U.S. cents.
Bradley noted resistance around the C$1.04 level.