Canadain dollar edges to 3-1/2-week high, but underperforms rivals

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar inched higher against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar on Friday, but underperformed against other rivals as a dearth of domestic news had investors focusing on speeches by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank head Mario Draghi.

A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The euro jumped to more than two-year highs against the U.S. dollar after Draghi did not express concern about a strong euro zone currency in a speech at the annual central banker meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The greenback fell to a three-week low against the euro earlier in the session after Yellen’s speech made no reference to monetary policy.

At 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.2481 to the greenback, or 80.12 U.S. cents, up 0.3 percent from the previous session's close.

The currency traded between C$1.2466 and C$1.254, touching its strongest level in 3-1/2 weeks.

“The CAD’s performance was ninth out of 10 in the G10 currencies, so this should not be thought of as some big appreciation,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

With no Canadian economic data or other event to steer direction in thin trading until the quarterly Canadian GDP figures due next Friday, traders will likely continue to take direction from external factors.

Anderson said BMO’s currency model suggested the Canadian dollar should have strengthened more than it did, opening the door for further gains on Monday.

He noted the latest data showed that long-CAD positions were 10 percent smaller than they were the previous week, and that investor positioning was only a minor impediment to the currency’s moves.

Prices of oil, a major Canadian export, rose modestly on Friday as the U.S. Gulf Coast braced for Hurricane Harvey, which could become the biggest storm to hit the U.S. mainland in more than a decade.[O/R]

Canadian government bond prices were mostly higher across the maturity curve. The two-year CA2YT=RR price was flat to yield 1.267 percent and the benchmark 10-year CA10YT=RR rose 13 Canadian cents to yield 1.873 percent.

The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread was -7.1 basis points, while the 10-year spread was -29.8 basis points.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli