* Canadian dollar at C$1.2846, or 77.85 U.S. cents
* Loonie touches its strongest since March 12 at C$1.2825
* Bond prices lower across the yield curve
* Canada-U.S. 2-year spread narrowed by 5.3 basis points
TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to an 11-day high against the greenback on Friday as oil prices rose and hotter-than-expected domestic inflation data raised the chances of a further Bank of Canada interest rate hike over the coming months. The annual inflation rate rose to 2.2 percent, a three-year high, from 1.7 percent in January, Statistics Canada said. Economists had forecast a rate of 2.0 percent. The Bank of Canada's three measures of core inflation also all strengthened. "I think it will reinforce the view that the bank will keep slowly grinding rates higher," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. The central bank has hiked rates three times since July even as it worried about a more uncertain outlook for trade. Chances of a hike in May rose to 82 percent from 74 percent before the data, the overnight index swaps market indicated. Still, separate data showing a weaker-than-expected 0.3 percent rise in January retail sales added to the picture of a domestic economy that has lost some momentum in recent months.
The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, rose after the Saudi energy minister said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would need to keep coordinating supply cuts with non-member countries including Russia into 2019.
U.S. crude prices were up 1.1 percent at $65.02 a
barrel. At 9:49 a.m. EST (1349 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.7 percent higher at C$1.2846 to the greenback, or 77.85 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest since March 12 at C$1.2825.
The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major
currencies as investors weighed escalating global trade tensions. Canada's commodity-linked economy could be hurt if global trade slowed. But the loonie has benefited this week from optimism about a deal to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield
curve, with the two-year price down 8 Canadian cents to yield 1.868 percent and the 10-year falling 18
Canadian cents to yield 2.202 percent. The gap between Canada's 2-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 5.3 basis points to -41.1 basis points.
(Additional reporting by Susan Taylor Editing by Nick Zieminski)