CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms as prospect of September U.S. rate hike fades

(Adds analyst's comment, details, closing figures)
    * Canadian dollar at C$1.3081 or 76.45 U.S. cents
    * Bond prices mostly higher across the maturity curve

    By Solarina Ho
    TORONTO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened
against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as the greenback
weakened on softening expectations for a Federal Reserve
interest rate hike in September.
    After the minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting,
released on Wednesday, indicated no rush to raise interest
rates, investors exited dollar positions and the probability of
a September rate hike fell to around 40 percent from 50 percent
    "The Canadian dollar is caught in the middle today. The
market is suffering a severe case of indigestion worrying about
what the Fed will do in September," said Adam Button, currency
analyst at ForexLive in Montreal. 
    The Canadian dollar finished at C$1.3081 to the
greenback, or 76.45 U.S. cents, firmer than the Bank of Canada's
official close of C$1.3110, or 76.28 U.S. cents, on Wednesday.
    The currency remained rangebound, trading between C$1.3060
and C$1.3176 during the session.
    Crude prices, another key driver for the Canadian dollar due
to the country's heavy concentration of oil producers, saw a
modest bounce off 6-1/2-year lows, settling just above $41 a
barrel. Ongoing worries about a global supply glut coupled with
potentially waning demand China and other major consumers have
weighed heavily on the commodity. 
    Data on Thursday showed Canadian wholesale trade for June
rebounded 1.3 percent, more than the 1 percent economists had
forecast, following a 0.9 percent decline in May. The figures
supported projections that June will be a more robust month for
growth in Canada following a lackluster performance for much of
the first half of this year. 
    Market participants are keenly awaiting Canadian inflation
data for July and retail sales data for June, which are due at
8:30 a.m. EDT on Friday. 
    Button said stronger data would probably not give the
Canadian dollar a significant boost, but that weak figures could
prompt talk about another Bank of Canada interest rate cut.
Markets are currently pricing in just under a 19 percent
probability of a 25 basis point interest rate cut in September.
    Canadian government bond prices were higher across the
maturity curve, with the two-year rising 2 Canadian
cents to yield 0.353 percent and the benchmark 10-year
 rising 31 Canadian cents to yield 1.287 percent.
    The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread widened to -30.4 basis
points, while the 10-year spread narrowed to -78.6 basis points.

 (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Nick Zieminski; and Peter