Canadian dollar rallies on jobs gain but ends lower for the week

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened against the greenback on Friday as stronger-than-expected domestic jobs data helped the currency rebound from an earlier two-week low, but the loonie still lost ground for the week due to rising fears over global trade.

FILE PHOTO - A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Canada added 66,800 jobs in January, the second month of outsized gains in the past three, as services-producing sector jobs soared, Statistics Canada reported. Analysts had forecast a gain of 8,000 positions.

Still, the Bank of Canada looks set to leave interest rates unchanged over the coming months, money market data showed, after having hiked by a total of 125 basis points since July 2017.

“For the Canadian dollar, we are up on the day but we have given back most of the gains that we’ve gotten just in response to the jobs data,” said Eric Theoret, a currency strategist at Scotiabank.

“It is still very much a sentiment driven market and I think right now there is a lot of concerns surrounding trade,” Theoret said.

U.S. stocks ended near flat as skepticism over the United States and China reaching a trade deal before a looming deadline added to concerns over slowing global growth.

Worries about the global economy also weighed on the price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports. U.S. crude oil futures settled 0.2 percent lower at $52.72 a barrel.

At 4:06 p.m. (2106 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.3 percent higher at 1.3264 to the greenback, or 75.39 U.S. cents. The currency’s strongest level of the session was 1.3233, while it touched its weakest since Jan. 25 at 1.3329.

For the week, the loonie fell 1.3 percent.

Separate data, from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, showed that Canadian housing starts fell less than expected in January to 207,968 units from a revised 213,630 units in December.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across much of the yield curve, with the two-year down 1 Canadian cent to yield 1.772 percent and the 10-year falling 5 Canadian cents to yield 1.883 percent.

The gap between Canada’s 10-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 2.6 basis points to a spread of 75.1 basis points in favor of the U.S. bond.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Susan Thomas and Sandra Maler