Canadian dollar firms as central bank speeches in focus

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

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was marginally stronger against the greenback on Tuesday and outperformed its peers as investors positioned themselves ahead of speeches by central bank officials and oil prices held near more than two-year highs.

A number of U.S. Federal Reserve officials are speaking this week, including Chair Janet Yellen. Yellen’s speech later in the day and those by other Fed officials will likely be dissected by investors looking for clues on whether the central bank will raise interest rates again in December.

At 9:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.2359 to the greenback, or 80.91 U.S. cents, up 0.1 percent, and outperforming nearly all of its other key currency counterparts.

It traded between C$1.2355 and C$1.2401 during the session.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will also be speaking on Wednesday. The central bank head is expected to keep the loonie in check without upsetting his global peers. A rapid appreciation of the currency could put an early squeeze on the economy just as it gains momentum, but talking down the currency too much could open Poloz up to charges that he is manipulating the currency.

Oil, a major Canadian export, held near the more than two-year highs reached in the previous session, underpinned by Turkey’s threat to cut crude exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan region and further signs that the market was rebalancing.

U.S. crude CLc1 prices were down 0.94 percent to $51.73 a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 lost 1.34 percent to $58.23.

Canadian government bond prices were mostly lower across the maturity curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR price down 1.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.607 percent and the benchmark 10-year CA10YT=RR falling 15 Canadian cents to yield 2.114 percent.

The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread stood at 16.0 basis points, while the 10-year spread stood at -12.3 basis points.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Nick Zieminski