* Canadian dollar at C$1.344 or 74.40 U.S. cents * Bond prices rise across the maturity curve By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed July 22 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar clung to slim gains against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, after data showed Canada's annual inflation rate in June posted its biggest acceleration in more than nine years. Canada's annual inflation rate in June spiked as restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak were lifted, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday. June marked the end of two months of deflation. The Bank of Canada - which says interest rates will remain near record lows for another two years - predicts inflation will remain weak in the near term. The Canadian dollar was at C$1.344 to the greenback, or 74.40 U.S. cents, stronger than Tuesday's close of C$1.3456, or 74.32 U.S. cents. "In terms of the Bank of Canada, I don’t think it has a lot of bearing on what the central bank plans on doing with policy," Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said. "The key to remember here is the bank is trying to get a sense of the underlying pace of inflation. So this one month move, while large in isolation, probably won’t change their view of the economy and how much inflation it’s likely to be able to generate," said Mendes. The loonie, which has been in a narrow range against the greenback for the last seven weeks, was on pace for its third straight day of gains against the greenback and is at a near six-week high. The Canadian dollar has benefited from the recent recovery in the price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, and a broad weakness in the U.S. dollar. On Wednesday, Canadian government bond prices rose across the maturity curve. The two-year yield was at 0.267% down from 0.272% late on Tuesday, while the benchmark Canadian 10-year yield slipped to 0.506% from Monday's 0.518%. (Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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