U.S., China data help C$ rise to 2012 high

Thu Mar 1, 2012 4:51pm EST
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar climbed against the U.S. currency for the fourth straight day on Thursday, hitting its highest level of the year, spurred by upbeat U.S. and Chinese economic data.

U.S. jobless claims data that bolstered views of a strengthening labor market and solid monthly sales from U.S. chain stores boosted stock markets and gave investors confidence to move away from safe-haven government debt and the greenback. <.

"Generally the overall trend and certainly the employment trend - so things like initial jobless claims - have been surprising slightly on the upside and that's been good for the outlook for the economy," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital.

The Canadian dollar finished the session at C$0.9859 versus the U.S. dollar, or $1.0143. Earlier in the day, it climbed to C$0.9842, or $1.0161, its highest level since September 19. On Wednesday, it ended at C$0.9895, or $1.0106.

Figures that showed U.S. jobless claims fell last week were the latest sign of a labor market recovery. The report trumped other reports on Thursday that showed the U.S. manufacturing sector cooled last month while construction spending fell in January.

The Canadian currency was also boosted by a 10-month high in oil prices due to Mideast jitters.

Sutton said Chinese manufacturing data overnight helped to set the overall positive tone. <O/R>

"We had strong (data) coming out of China overnight and that helped boost the commodity outlook and commodity currencies generally," she said.   Continued...