CANADA FX DEBT-Jobs, commodities lift C$ to 3-1/2 year high
* C$ ends at C$0.9574 vs US$, or $1.0445, 3rd weekly gain
* Hits high of C$0.9526 vs US$, or $1.05
* Bond prices lower across curve, track U.S. Treasuries
* Canada loses jobs in March, but full-time numbers jump (Updates to close, adds details, quotes)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar hit its highest level in more than three years against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar on Friday, marking its third weekly gain, as commodity prices rallied and jobs data provided some upbeat economic news.
Though Canada surprisingly lost 1,500 jobs in March, a huge jump in full-time positions suggested solid economic growth and bolstered expectations the central bank will raise interest rates later this year, likely in July. [ID:nN08186389]
Surging oil and gold prices remained key drivers of the commodity-linked currency, as well as a broadly weaker greenback. [FRX/] [O/R] [GOL/]
The currency cut some of its gains however heading into the close after U.S. stocks fell as high oil prices revived investor worries about inflation and the economic recovery. [.N]
The Canadian dollar ended the North American session at C$0.9574 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0445, up from Thursday's close of C$0.9585 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0433.
It rose for the ninth time in the past ten sessions and was up 0.7 percent for the week -- its third weekly gain.
"Obviously, the upward trend in CAD is still quite strong. And it's not just Canada, we've seen a whole host of currencies reach new highs today and that just speaks to the broad U.S. dollar move as opposed to being a CAD specific move," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital.
"Markets have caught wind that globally central banks are hiking rates and the (U.S. Federal Reserve) is not.
The European Central Bank raised rates by 25 basis points on Thursday, its first increase since the 2008 financial crisis, and signaled it is ready to tighten further if needed.
"Interest rate spreads are expected to move further and if the ECB feels the euro zone is strong enough to handle higher rates then that's likely true in a lot of countries," added Sutton.
Higher rates are also expected in Canada later this year despite the weak headline number on the jobs report.
The Bank of Canada is expected to make its first interest rate hike of 2011 in July, as it balances rising economic growth against tame inflation and a high-flying Canadian dollar, according to a Reuters poll on Thursday.
"I would think at some point you should think more seriously about May," said Mark Chandler, head of fixed income and currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
"The real obstacle is not so much the data, but the Bank of Canada's attitude about it and we find out about their attitude next week," he added, noting the Monetary Policy Report on Wednesday.
Following the jobs data, the currency CAD=D4 touched a high of C$0.9526 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.05, its strongest since late 2007. The next resistance levels from there are big round numbers leading to the modern-day high of $1.10, said Sutton.
"Ninety-five, ninety-four, ninety-three ... That move was so fast and we just went down and right back up so there's not a ton of support (for the U.S. dollar) between here and there."
BONDS LOWER, LITTLE MOVED BY DATA
Canadian government bond prices were lower across the curve, tracking a similar move by U.S. Treasuries, although they outperformed slightly.
The employment numbers, the last data available to the Bank of Canada ahead of its April 12 rate announcement, caused minimal response, noted Chandler.
The two-year bond CA2YT=RR was off 3 Canadian cents to yield 1.901 percent, while the 10-year bond CA10YT=RR was down 10 Canadian cents to yield 3.449 percent. (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob Wilson)
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