* Climbs as high as C$1.1019 to the U.S. dollar
* Commodity rally, risk appetite drive gains
* Bond prices little changed across curve (Adds details)
By Frank Pingue
TORONTO, July 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar shot to its highest level in just over five weeks on Monday, driven by a rally in commodity prices and increased optimism about the state of the global economic recovery.
The currency rallied as high as C$1.1019 to the U.S. dollar, or 90.75 U.S. cents, which marked its strongest level since June 12. The move came on the heels of its 4.4 percent rise last week.
“The markets have been feeling a lot better about things, whether it’s the earnings reports that we saw last week or just the fact that people are starting to feel that things are starting to turn the corner,” said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital. “The world just looks like an awfully safe place once again this morning.”
By 12:00 noon (1600 GMT), the Canadian unit had eased slightly to C$1.1074 to the U.S. dollar, or 90.30 U.S. cents, but was still up from Friday’s close of C$1.1161 to the U.S. dollar, or 89.60 U.S. cents.
Higher prices for oil and gold, both key Canadian exports, helped lure traders to the currency, while demand for riskier assets also lent support.
The currency’s rise came ahead of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate announcement on Tuesday, when it is expected to stick to its conditional pledge and keep rates at the current near-zero level. [ID:nN17484031]
Plenty of eyes will likely be on the bank’s accompanying statement to see if it offers an updated view on the Canadian dollar. In its June statement, the bank said a strong currency could offset positive factors such as improved financial conditions and commodity prices. [ID:nN0479627]
“(The Bank of Canada) mentioned the currency last time and so you have to think they will say something about it again this time,” said Butler. “But it might just fall on deaf ears because, unless they do something about it, talk is cheap.”
According to RBC Capital Markets, the recent strength of the Canadian dollar is on the Bank of Canada’s radar screen, but it would still need to rise much further to convince the central bank to intervene in currency markets.
“The (Bank of Canada) is likely to continue to rely on rhetoric to cap (Canadian dollar) rallies,” David Watt, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note.
“However, if CAD maintains its momentum, short of signs of a stunning rebound in the global economy, the risk of a stronger response will increase exponentially as USD/CAD head well below C$1.10.”
BONDS MOSTLY FLAT
Domestic bond prices were flat as bargain-hunting helped erase a fall suffered after news that U.S. lender CIT Group (CIT.N) may have reached a deal that could allow it to avoid bankruptcy.
A rally in global equities overnight was followed by a rise by North American stocks as the CIT news removed some uncertainty for the financial sector, which is still recovering from its deep crisis.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE rose 1 percent at the open and went on to reach its highest level since June 15 as demand for government debt was muted.
Helping cushion the slide in some bond prices was data that showed Canadian wholesale trade dropped in May for the eighth consecutive month to its lowest level since 2005. [ID:nN2016541]
A separate report showed foreigners scooped up a record C$19.38 billion worth of Canadian bonds in May. [nOTT001662]
The two-year Canada bond was down 3 Canadian cents at C$100.04 to yield 1.238 percent, while the 10-year bond rose 8 Canadian cents to C$102.20 to yield 3.484 percent.
The 30-year bond was up 20 Canadian cents at C$116.65 to yield 4.003 percent. In the United States, the 30-year Treasury bond yielded 4.547 percent. (Editing by Rob Wilson)