CANADA FX DEBT-C$ rallies as oil climbs, housing starts rebound

    * Canadian dollar gains 0.4% against the greenback
    * Canadian housing starts climb 15.8% in March
    * Price of U.S. oil rises 1.2%
    * Canadian bond prices dip across the yield curve

    TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar
strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, recovering
from a one-week low in the prior session as oil prices climbed
to their highest this year and domestic data showed a 15.8% jump
in March housing starts.
    Gains for the loonie came as the U.S. dollar        lost
ground against a basket of major currencies. Investors squared
positions before a European Central Bank meeting this week,
boosting the euro.             
     The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, was
supported by OPEC supply cuts, U.S. sanctions against Iran and
Venezuela and fighting in Libya as well as strong U.S. jobs
data. U.S. crude oil futures        rose 1.2% to $63.84 a
    Canadian housing starts climbed in March to a seasonally
adjusted annualized rate of 192,527 units after slowing to a
revised 166,290 units in February.             
    At 9:56 a.m. (1356 GMT), the Canadian dollar          was
trading 0.4% higher at 1.3340 to the greenback, or 74.96 U.S.
cents. The currency, which touched on Friday its weakest since
March 29 at 1.3403, traded in a range of 1.3340 to 1.3386.
    Data on Friday from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading
Commission and Reuters calculations showed that speculators have
raised their bearish bets on the Canadian dollar. As of April 2,
net short positions had increased to 44,323 contracts from
39,571 in the prior week.                     
    More than six months after the United States, Mexico and
Canada agreed a new deal to govern more than $1 trillion in
regional trade, the chances of the countries ratifying the pact
this year are receding.             
    Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield
curve, with the 10-year             falling 8 Canadian cents to
yield 1.709%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by David Gregorio)