By Solarina Ho TORONTO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar firmed against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, as the greenback was weakened by indications from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it would maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy for as long as necessary. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech late Tuesday that despite an improved U.S. economy, officials want proof of sustained job growth before the central bank scales back its bond-buying stimulus. Bernanke said interest rates were likely to remain near zero for a considerable time after the asset purchases end. "I think the timeline is, any rate hike before 2016 seems to be very unlikely in his mind. And you can feel that tapering is something they want to do," said Charles St-Arnaud, economist and currency strategist with Nomura Securities in New York. "Going forward, once we get tapering by the Fed, than we should see the Canadian dollar depreciate." The Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.0447 versus the U.S. dollar, or 95.72 U.S. cents at 9:34 a.m. (1434 GMT), stronger than Tuesday's North American close at C$1.0471, or 95.50 U.S. cents. A gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in October as households bought a range of goods, suggesting upside momentum in the economy early in the fourth quarter, while inflation data showed an unexpected fall in consumer prices in October. "The Canadian dollar's only marginally stronger today ... The data in the U.S. is roughly in line, or slightly better than expected in terms of retail sales," said St-Arnaud. Canadian retail sales and CPI data are due on Friday. Canadian bond prices were mostly higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year bond up 1 Canadian cent to yield 1.123 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond rising 5 Canadian cents to yield 2.560 percent.