* C$ at C$0.9841 vs US$, or $1.0162 * Canada strengthens against currency crosses * Bond prices little changed across curve By Jennifer Kwan TORONTO, May 3 (Reuters) - Canada's dollar climbed against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday and outperformed the G10 currencies on lingering expectations of an interest rate hike, while firmness in equity markets indicated that investors were in a buying mood. The currency got a lift from the trend overseas that saw European shares up as investors waited to see if a gloomier economic outlook would prompt the European Central Bank to hint at further stimulus measures following its policy meeting. Canada outperformed against major currencies on ramped-up expectations of a Bank of Canada rate hike. The central bank surprised investors last month with a more positive domestic economic outlook and an explicit warning that it may have to start raising rates again from its current 1 percent. "If you take a look at the currency landscape the Canadian dollar is an outperformer," said Jack Spitz, managing director of foreign exchange at National Bank Financial. "Canada has more or less held gains since the Bank of Canada. There's a myriad of reasons why one would want to buy Canada from a relative value perspective looking at the economics, the hawkish stance by the bank," he added. "The underlying bid to commodity prices, the higher equity prices and the whole buy North America, sell Europe and Asia." Canada's dollar strengthened against commodity-linked New Zealand and Australian dollars, the euro as well as the Japanese yen. At around 8:10 a.m. (1210 GMT), the Canadian currency was at C$0.9841 against the greenback, or $1.0162, up slightly from its Wednesday finish at C$0.9865 against the greenback, or $1.0137. Still market strategists said there are risks to the downside. Economic reports have been mixed in recent weeks, giving investors no clear signal on the strength of the North American economic recovery. As well, flare-ups in the European debt crisis have given traders pause. Spitz expects the currency to trade in a tight range of C$0.9800 to C$0.9900 against the greenback over the next few days. All eyes will be on key U.S. jobs data due on Friday. Non-farm payrolls data is expected to show hiring by U.S. employers rebounded in April, which could ease fears that the economy has stumbled into a soft patch. Businesses outside the farm sector are expected to have added 170,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey, after rising a meager 120,000 in March. The unemployment rate is seen holding at a three-year low of 8.2 percent. Canadian bond prices were little changed across the curve with Canada's two-year bond unchanged to yield 1.316 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond was up 3 Canadian cents to yield 2.104 percent.