CANADA FX DEBT-C$ hits near 3-month high on recovery hope
* C$ up at C$1.0307 to the U.S. dollar
* Touches highest level since Oct. 15
* Housing starts data better than expected
* Bond prices flat to higher across curve
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar climbed to a near three-month high against the U.S. currency on Monday as the greenback weakened and oil and equity markets bounced on stronger trade data from China, fanning optimism about prospects for economic recovery.
The currency rose to C$1.0252 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.54 U.S. cents -- the highest level since Oct. 15 -- as oil prices, a key Canadian export, climbed 0.6 percent near $83.24 a barrel and world stocks and U.S. stock index futures climbed in part on the China's trade data. [ID:nSGE60A01E] [MKTS/GLOB]
"We have U.S. dollar weakness and stronger commodity prices following the data out of China," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
At 9:11 a.m. (1411 GMT), the Canadian dollar was at C$1.0307 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.02 U.S. cents, up from Friday's finish at C$1.0309 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.00 U.S. cents.
The Canadian dollar's strength was aided by a weak U.S. dollar, which headed lower on lingering sentiment from Friday's U.S. employment data that showed U.S. employers unexpectedly cut 85,000 jobs in December and comments from a Federal Reserve official that U.S. rates are likely to stay low for some time. [FRX/]
The currency also moved higher as domestic data showed housing starts rose 5.9 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 174,500 units from an upwardly revised 164,800 units in November, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said on Monday.
The number of starts in December beat the consensus expectations of analysts who had called for 160,000 starts. [ID:nHND005512]
Elsewhere, data showed the value of Canadian building permits fell 4.6 percent in November from October, roughly in line with expectations, as a decline in nonresidential projects offset the ninth consecutive increase in housing permits. [ID:nN11413438]
Canadian bond prices were flat to slightly higher, but the moves were muted, said Strauss.
"We had housing starts come out a little better than expected, but then again building permits slightly weaker than expected. Overall, it continues to point to recovery and a decent recovery into 2010, but nothing to suggest the Bank of Canada will change its conditional commitment (to rates) at this point," he said.
The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark interest rate at an all-time low of 0.25 percent until mid-year. (Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)
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