Canadian dollar slides as investors brace for Fed's Powell

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, pulling back from a two-week high the day before, as the greenback rose broadly ahead of a speech on Friday by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

The U.S. dollar snapped a five-day losing streak, as a new round of U.S.-Chinese punitive trade tariffs boosted the greenback and the annual Federal Reserve conference began in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Powell is due to speak at the economic symposium on Friday. U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters on Monday that he was “not thrilled” with rate increases under Powell, so the Fed chairman may wish to show he will not bow to pressure, said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank.

“The (U.S.) dollar is generally strengthening up a bit more running into the Powell comments tomorrow,” Osborne said. “There is an expectation that he can’t sound in any way shape or form dovish.”

At 3:14 p.m. (1914 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.6 percent lower at C$1.3085 to the greenback, or 76.42 U.S. cents. The currency traded in a range of C$1.2994 to C$1.3099.

On Wednesday, the loonie touched its strongest level in two weeks at C$1.2987 as oil prices jumped and optimism grew about progress in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Canada would need to agree to any final conclusion on “rules of origin” reached in bilateral talks between the United States and Mexico as part of the modernization of NAFTA.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, steadied as the escalating trade war between the United States and China weighed on demand expectations a day after prices jumped on a big draw in U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled three cents lower at $67.83 a barrel.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across a flatter yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR down 2.5 Canadian cents to yield 2.125 percent and the benchmark 10-year CA10YT=RR falling 1 Canadian cent to yield 2.259 percent.

The gap between the two-year and 10-year yields shrank by 1.4 basis points to a spread of 13.4 basis points, its narrowest since October 2007.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Susan Thomas and Peter Cooney