* C$ at C$1.0257 versus US$, or 97.49 U.S. cents
* Robust jobs reports in both countries boost currency
* C$ sharply stronger against euro, franc, Aussie, yen
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened sharply on Friday to hit a one-week high after much better-than-expected jobs growth in February in both Canada and its main trading partner, the United States.
Canada added almost 51,000 jobs in the month, with strong gains in services industries that vaulted the total well past the 8,000 additions expected by analysts surveyed by Reuters.
U.S. employers also stepped up hiring, pushing the unemployment rate to a four year-low, suggesting the world’s biggest economy is gaining traction despite the blow from higher taxes and deep government spending cuts.
“It’s hard to separate the impact given that we had two pretty stellar reports on employment in Canada and the U.S. so it looks like the strength may persist throughout the rest of the day,” said Mazen Issa, a macro strategist at TD Securities.
The Canadian currency got to C$1.0234 to the greenback, or 97.71 U.S. cents, soon after the employment data, its best rate since Feb 28.
It had changed hands at C$1.0288 just before the release and C$1.0294 at Thursday’s North American close. It later pared the gains slightly to trade at C$1.0257, or 97.49 U.S. cents.
The gains against the greenback came despite the U.S. dollar’s sharp rise against a string of other currencies.
Canada’s currency strengthened against the Australian dollar and Japanese yen. It gained two Canadian cents versus the euro and more than a cent against the Swiss franc to hit its strongest level since late January versus both those currencies.
Government bonds sold off sharply, with the two-year bond down 8 Canadian cents to yield 0.998 percent and the benchmark 10-year bond falling 54 Canadian cents to yield 1.944 percent.
Overnight index swaps, which trade based on expectations for the central bank’s key policy rate, showed that after the data traders trimmed their already small bets on a rate cut in late 2013.