CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms to 1-week high, helped by producer prices

Reuters

* Canadian dollar at C$1.1097 or 90.11 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to its highest level in a week against the greenback on Monday, helped by a bigger than expected rise in Canadian producer prices and as investors consolidated positions after the currency's recent declines.

The loonie was also given a boost by U.S. data that showed a sharp drop in manufacturing in January, hinting at a slowing economy. That sparked investor speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may have to refrain from a further reduction of its stimulus program.

The Canadian dollar has come under pressure in recent months, with selling intensifying in January, as investors turned increasingly bearish toward it. The U.S. dollar appreciated nearly 5 percent against the loonie in January.

"This is probably a move that had run very quickly and is looking just a bit fatigued as we take a step back and assess the landscape and try to figure out why exactly we moved so far so fast," said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities in Toronto.

The possibility of a fast Fed wind-down of its stimulative asset purchases has typically boosted the greenback against the Canadian dollar and other currencies. But Monday's weak U.S. manufacturing data made that possibility look more remote and the U.S. dollar took a hit, falling 0.4 percent against a basket of currencies.

"To see the Canadian dollar catch a bit of a break in that environment does make a bit of sense," Tulk said.

Data at home showed the recent weakness in the Canadian dollar helped producer prices rise by 0.7 percent in December, with higher energy prices also contributing to the gain. Economists had forecast an increase of 0.3 percent. Raw materials prices also rose.

The figures were the first release in a busy data calendar this week, which will culminate with the closely watched unemployment report on Friday. Hiring in Canada is expected to have picked up in January after the economy unexpectedly shed jobs the month before.

The Canadian dollar ended the North American session at C$1.1097 to the greenback, or 90.11 U.S. cents, stronger than Friday's close of C$1.1138, or 89.78 U.S. cents.

Data on Friday showed investors had pared back their short positions on the Canadian dollar.

"A lot of people have booked a lot of profits on the Canadian dollar weakness story, something that was quite compelling as a narrative to start the year, but just appreciating how far we've come, maybe some of the momentum has scaled back a little bit," Tulk said.

The Canadian dollar briefly fell through the psychologically important C$1.12 area on Friday before bouncing higher. That the currency was not able to sustain the move past C$1.12 helped the loonie gain some strength on Monday, said Scott Smith, senior market analyst at Cambridge Mercantile Group in Calgary.

"The trade has been a little crowded for a while, we needed a little washout and reset," Smith said. "So it's along the lines that we expect a little bit of a consolidation here until we see the catalyst for the next move higher" for the U.S. dollar-Canadian dollar pairing.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year up 3.7 Canadian cents to yield 0.931 percent and the benchmark 10-year up 35 Canadian cents to yield 2.297 percent.

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