CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms but investors await Fed clarity
* Canadian dollar at C$1.0603 or 94.31 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar firmed against the greenback on Tuesday, continuing to consolidate after recent declines as investors sought clarity on the path of U.S. monetary policy. The loonie also got support from a bounce-back in oil prices. U.S. crude rose $1.17 to settle at $98.51 a barrel. The Canadian dollar touched a 3-1/2-year low last week, hit by a more dovish Bank of Canada policy stance, recently weaker oil prices and uncertainty over what course the U.S. Federal Reserve would take on its stimulus program. Fed policymakers will meet for two days next week and investors are trying to gauge whether the central bank will announce it is reducing its economic stimulus efforts, or whether it will hold off until next year. Last week's stronger-than-expected jobs data in the United States has supported expectations the Fed could start slowing its bond-buying program sooner rather than later. A top Fed official on Monday gave his voice to a growing contingent at the central bank that has argued for reducing bond buying at the Fed's meeting next week. "It's a question of December or January now and if it's anything outside of that, I think it will be a bit of a shocker to the markets," said Rahim Madhavji, president of Knightsbridge FX.com in Toronto. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion a month in bonds as part of its quantitative easing, or "QE", program as it tries to keep borrowing costs low to boost economic recovery. Madhavji expects the loonie to trade in a range between C$1.06 and C$1.07 until investors get further insight from the Fed. The Canadian dollar ended the North American session at C$1.0603 to the greenback, or 94.31 U.S. cents, stronger than Monday's close of C$1.0635, or 94.03 U.S. cents. A faster timetable for the Fed is seen as a negative for the Canadian dollar as the move is expected to reduce risk appetite and benefit the U.S. currency. On the domestic front, the Bank of Canada said the high level of consumer debt and robust housing market pose an "elevated" risk to the country's financial stability, but the overall level of danger has fallen from six months ago. Canadian government bond prices were higher across the maturity curve, with the two-year up 1 Canadian cent to yield 1.079 percent and the benchmark 10-year up 53 Canadian cents to yield 2.603 percent.
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