* Canadian dollar at C$1.3462, or 74.28 U.S. cents
* Bond prices higher across the yield curve
TORONTO, March 15 The Canadian dollar
strengthened on Wednesday against its U.S. counterpart as oil
prices rallied, but gains for the loonie were restrained ahead
of a potential Federal Reserve interest rate hike.
U.S. crude prices were up 1.34 percent at $48.36 a
barrel, lifted by a surprise drawdown in U.S. inventories and
data from the International Energy Agency suggesting
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cuts should
create a crude deficit in the first half of 2017.
Oil is one of Canada's major exports.
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates for the second
time in three months later on Wednesday, encouraged by strong
monthly job gains and confidence that inflation is finally
rising to its target.
At 10:01 a.m. ET (1401 GMT), the Canadian dollar
was trading at C$1.3462 to the greenback, or 74.28 U.S. cents,
stronger than Tuesday's close of C$1.3485, or 74.16 U.S.
The currency's strongest level of the session was C$1.3443,
while its weakest was C$1.3484.
In domestic data, household debt as a share of income rose
to a fresh record in the fourth quarter, data from Statistics
Canada showed in a report likely to underscore concerns
consumers are becoming overly indebted.
Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield
curve, with the two-year up 1.5 Canadian cents to
yield 0.847 percent and the 10-year rising 11
Canadian cents to yield 1.822 percent.
The 2-year yield fell 2 basis points further below its U.S.
equivalent to a spread of -54.6 basis points. Earlier in March,
it had touched its widest gap since January 2016 at -55.2 basis
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski)