CANADA FX DEBT-C$ weakens in defiance of positive trend
* C$ at C$0.9926 to US$, or $1.0074 * Currency splits from rising equities, commodity prices * Bank of Canada expects to lower growth forecast this week By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened slightly against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, bucking a recent trend in which investors buy the currency when equity markets and commodity prices rise. U.S. stock markets ended last week at 5-year highs as early earnings impressed, while gold and oil held on to recent gains. Toronto's stock market also looked set to open higher as signs pointed to U.S. lawmakers making progress towards a deal to raise the country's debt limit. "All in all, with all the drivers pointing to Canadian dollar strength, it doesn't totally follow that the currency has weakened," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank. At 8:41.m. (1341 GMT) the Canadian dollar was trading at C$0.9926 to the greenback, or $1.0074, compared with C$0.9918, or $1.0083, at Friday's North American close. The Canadian currency retreated 0.7 percent last week to near a three-week low as investors knocked it out of a recent tight range with a push past a technical support level. Sutton suggested the Canadian dollar could have fallen victim to a staunch of official flows, pointing to the Swiss central bank not needing to buy other currencies so forcefully as one example. The Canadian dollar was also weak against other major currencies, including the euro, the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen. Prices for both the two-year and benchmark 10-year bonds were unchanged, yielding 1.181 percent and 1.920 percent respectively. The session was likely to be subdued by a U.S. holiday, while investors are also eyeing a Bank of Japan policy-setting meeting overnight in which the bank is expected to ease monetary policy further. The Bank of Canada is expected to hold rates steady when it announces its rate policy on Wednesday, together with the publication of its Monetary Policy Report. Analysts are expecting the central bank to lower its growth forecast as Canada's economy struggles to register more than limp growth. Canada's wholesale trade increased by 0.7 percent in November from October, largely due to higher sales of computer and communications equipment and supplies, data released on Mondays showed. Other domestic data on tap this week include retail sales numbers due out on Tuesday and December consumer price index data on Friday.