January 31, 2013 / 1:17 PM / 5 years ago

Canadian dollar strengthens after Canada GDP, U.S. jobs eyed

A man holds the new Canadian 100 dollar bill made of polymer in Toronto November 14, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar notched gains after the release of stronger-than-expected domestic growth data on Thursday and was trading around equal value to its U.S. counterpart as market focus moved to a key U.S. jobs report out on Friday.

The Canadian dollar looked on track to gain 0.6 percent against the greenback this week, which would pare its losses for January to roughly three-quarters of a percent. The currency weakened last week after the Bank of Canada pulled back on its rate-hiking bias.

It was helped on Thursday by data that showed a bounce in domestic economic growth in November after several months of flat or tepid growth.

By mid-morning, the Canadian dollar was trading at C$0.9995 to the greenback, or $1.0005, compared with C$1.0015, or 99.85 U.S. cents, at Wednesday’s North American close.

That gain could be threatened if U.S. jobs data due out on Friday comes in weaker than expected.

“The Canadian dollar is as vulnerable, if not more so, to U.S. economic weakness (as the U.S. dollar is),” said Jack Spitz, managing director of foreign exchange at National Bank Financial. “Ultimately if we see a soft payroll number tomorrow we could see some (U.S.) dollar strength against Canada.”

Against the greenback, some of the Canadian currency’s gain on Thursday could be attributed to month-end selling of U.S. dollars by fund managers with hedged portfolios following recent global equity gains, Spitz added.

Against the euro, it traded near the 13-month low it notched on Wednesday, illustrating the broader weakness of the Canadian dollar.

The U.S. Federal Reserve kept its bond-buying program in place at the end of a two-day meeting on Wednesday, saying economic growth had stalled. Gross domestic product data released earlier in the day showed that the U.S. economy, Canada’s main export market, shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012.

These factors may have lowered expectations for the closely-watched U.S. non-farm payrolls data due out on Friday, though any disappointment in that reading would still hit the Canadian dollar hard.

“We’re left beholden to labor market data in particular, and that’s why the number tomorrow is going to be so elevated in terms of its potential market reaction,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of foreign exchange strategy at CIBC World Markets. “That’s going to be the driving force for sentiment vis a vis North America in general, and to an extent the global backdrop as well.”

National’s Spitz said currency traders will also be watching Japanese employment data and a reading on Chinese purchasing manager activity overnight.

The price of a two-year Canadian bond was up half a Canadian cent to yield 1.163 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond rose 2 Canadian cents to yield 1.994 percent.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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