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C$ climbs to 3-week high as BoC eyes soft landing

FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a near three-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Monday as investors took stock of recent broad-based gains for the greenback and the Bank of Canada said the economy could grow as inflation cools.

The loonie was trading 0.3% higher at 1.3651 to the U.S. dollar, or 73.25 U.S. cents, its strongest level since June 4.

"We are seeing a little bit of position squaring," said Michael Goshko, senior market analyst at Convera Canada. "Traders are very long of U.S. dollars."

The U.S. dollar pulled back from a seven-week against a basket of major currencies, while the price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, settled 1.1% higher at $81.63 a barrel.

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There is enough slack in the Canadian labor market to allow for growth and the creation of more jobs even as the inflation rate continues to decline, said Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem.

"Governor Macklem believes that a soft landing is still in the cards," Tiago Figueiredo, a macro strategist at Desjardins, said in a note.

Canada's consumer price index report, due on Tuesday, is expected to show inflation easing to an annual rate of 2.6% in May from 2.7% in April.

Data in line with expectations could make a rate cut next month "a virtual certainty," Convera Canada's Goshko said.

Investors see a 72% chance that the BoC would cut interest rates further at the next policy decision on July 24, swaps market data shows.

Earlier this month, the BoC became the first G7 central bank to ease policy, cutting its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 4.75%.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a more deeply inverted curve. The 2-year was up 1.8 basis points at 3.941%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Marguerita Choy)