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TORONTO: The Canadian dollar strengthened against its US counterpart on Thursday after a three-day run of declines, as oil prices rallied and expectations for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts were boosted by tame US inflation data.

The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, rose after a suspected attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman near Iran and the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of global oil passes. US crude oil futures settled 2.2% higher at $52.28 a barrel.

"The market right now is really focusing on oil ... whenever you have that positive development, it normally provides good support for the Canadian dollar," said Darren Richardson, chief operating officer at Richardson International Currency Exchange Inc.

The loonie has also benefited this month from "dovish comments" by Federal Reserve officials, Richardson said.

US Treasury yields fell on Thursday as data showed US import prices declined by the most in five months, the latest indication of muted inflation pressures, which could strengthen the case for the Fed to cut interest rates this year.

At 3:55 p.m. (1955 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.1% higher at 1.3332 to the greenback, or 75.01 US cents. The currency, which has declined 0.5% this week, traded in a range of 1.3300 to 1.3342.

Canadian household debt as a share of income, a measure closely watched by policymakers, slipped to 173.0% in the first quarter from 173.7% in the fourth quarter, but was still near record levels, data from Statistics Canada showed.

A survey from Export Development Canada, completed in March and April, showed that Canadian exporters' confidence fell to a seven-year low amid the disruption caused by trade wars and the imposition of US tariffs.

The Bank of Canada has repeatedly identified the US-China trade war as one of the main risks facing the economy.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across a steeper yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The two-year rose 8.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.402% and the 10-year was up 39 Canadian cents to yield 1.455%.

That left the 10-year yield near last week's two-year low of 1.410%.

Copyright Reuters, 2019