* Annual inflation eases in March, core higher
* Bond prices tilt lower across the curve
* C$ remains comfortably above March 4-year low (Adds details and comments)
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar eased slightly versus the U.S. dollar on Friday as domestic inflation data did little to change expectations that the Bank of Canada could soon take additional measures beyond interest rate cuts to stimulate Canada’s sagging economy.
The data showed Canada’s annual inflation rate slowed to 1.2 percent in March from 1.4 percent in February, but the core rate closely watched by the central bank unexpectedly rose to 2 percent. [ID:nN17500487]
At 8:15 a.m. (1215 GMT), the Canadian unit was at C$1.2115 to the U.S. dollar, or 82.54 U.S. cents, down from C$1.2095 to the U.S. dollar, or 82.68 U.S. cents, right before the data.
That also left it down from C$1.2096 to the U.S. dollar, or 82.67 U.S. cents, at Thursday’s close.
The Bank of Canada will announce its interest rate decision on April 21. Most primary dealers expect it to hold the key rate steady at 0.50 percent and will watch for hints on whether the central bank plans to introduce quantitative or credit easing measures. [ID:nTOR004440]
“Whatever the Bank of Canada was going to do would’ve been largely cast in stone for next week and today’s numbers are not much of a factor,” said Mark Chandler, fixed income strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
“It would’ve had to have been well outside of expectations one way or the other to be a market mover given the path that the bank is on and it obviously wasn’t.”
Chandler said the Bank of Canada is likely more focused on inflation expectations rather that current inflation figures.
The modest pullback in the currency left it further away from the 13-week high it touched early on Thursday after an upbeat report on Canadian factory sales. But the currency is still up nearly 8 percent from the four-year low it skidded to in early March.
Another weight on the Canadian dollar came from the price of gold, which added to the previous session’s near 2 percent drop. The price of oil, also a key Canadian commodity whose price often influences the currency, was little changed.
BOND PRICES EDGE LOWER
Domestic bond prices were slightly lower across the curve, but their move was contained as North American stocks appeared headed for a flat open even after some upbeat U.S. corporate earnings reports.
Both Citigroup (C.N) and General Electric (GE.N) posted quarterly results that were better than expected, yet U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open. [ID:nN17306900]
“The feeling is even with better earnings results today, we’ve had a good run in equities and there may be a bit of a correction needed,” said Chandler.
The two-year bond was down 1 Canadian cent at C$100.27 to yield 1.122 percent, while the 10-year bond slipped 11 Canadian cents to C$106.76 to yield 2.970 percent.
The 30-year bond shed 35 Canadian cents to C$122.20 to yield 3.720 percent. In the United States, the 30-year Treasury yielded 3.727 percent. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)