Loonie ends higher as data hits greenback

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar closed higher on Tuesday as weak U.S. data weighed on the greenback, but its move was limited ahead of the rate decision from the Federal Reserve due on Wednesday.

Newly pressed Canadian one dollar coins, also know as loonies, at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg on November 14, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade

Domestic bond prices, with no Canadian data to consider, followed the bigger U.S. Treasury market to a higher close after weak data from south of the border provided more evidence for the view that the Fed would hold off on any increase in interest rates for some time.

The Canadian dollar closed at C$1.0115 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.86 U.S. cents, up from C$1.0158 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.44 U.S. cents, at Monday’s close.

The domestic currency spent the quiet session in a tight range as traders avoided huge commitments until after the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee rate decision and, to a larger extent, its accompanying statement.

The market, which largely expects no change to the Fed’s key rate, wants to see if the central bank offers any clues as to their future bias towards interest rates.

“The Canadian dollar is tracking a little bit higher here but I don’t think there is a whole lot of conviction as people are generally still waiting for the FOMC,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at TD Securities.

“Until there is a story that differentiates Canada from whatever else is going on in the U.S., we are probably going to see this range trading continue.”

The commodity-linked Canadian dollar was also supported by a rise in oil prices, but the impact was muted as oil settled below its session high comfortably below the record near $140 a barrel reached last week.


Canadian bond prices finished higher after U.S. data showed consumer confidence fell to a 16-year low while another report showed housing prices in 20 major metropolitan areas declined by 15.3 percent in the year to April.

Given the lack of any Canadian data to set a tone, the U.S. reports were enough to offer a bid to Canadian government debt and build on last week’s rally.

“They’re feasting on the weak data from both confidence and home prices in the U.S. which are both sliding pretty fast,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “It’s possible the that the confidence numbers in part could sway the more dovish Fed numbers to back a more neutral policy bias instead of a tightening bias tomorrow.”

The two-year bond rose 12 Canadian cents to C$100.94 to yield 3.243 percent. The 10-year bond gained 75 Canadian cents to C$102.10 to yield 3.721 percent.

The yield spread between the two-year and 10-year bond was 47.8 basis points, down from 47.1 at the previous close.

The 30-year bond added C$1.58 to C$115.88 for a yield of 4.062 percent. In the United States, the 30-year Treasury yielded 4.636 percent.

The three-month when-issued T-bill yielded 2.72 percent, up from 2.70 percent at the previous close.