* Currency touches highest since Sept. 19
* China factory data sets the tone
* Bond prices retreat across curve
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar climbed against the U.S. currency for the fourth straight day on Thursday, hitting its highest level of the year, spurred by upbeat U.S. and Chinese economic data.
U.S. jobless claims data that bolstered views of a strengthening labor market and solid monthly sales from U.S. chain stores boosted stock markets and gave investors confidence to move away from safe-haven government debt and the greenback.
“Generally the overall trend and certainly the employment trend - so things like initial jobless claims - have been surprising slightly on the upside and that’s been good for the outlook for the economy,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital.
The Canadian dollar finished the session at C$0.9859 versus the U.S. dollar, or $1.0143. Earlier in the day, it climbed to C$0.9842, or $1.0161, its highest level since Sept. 19. On Wednesday, it ended at C$0.9895, or $1.0106.
Figures that showed U.S. jobless claims fell last week were the latest sign of a labor market recovery. The report trumped other reports on Thursday that showed the U.S. manufacturing sector cooled last month while construction spending fell in January.
The Canadian currency was also boosted by a 10-month high in oil prices due to Mideast jitters.
Sutton said Chinese manufacturing data overnight helped to set the overall positive tone.
“We had strong (data) coming out of China overnight and that helped boost the commodity outlook and commodity currencies generally,” she said.
China’s factories produced more than expected in February as new export orders for big companies bounced back, a government survey showed.
Sutton said she sees the Canadian currency trading in range of around C$0.9800 to C$0.9899 against the greenback.
Canadian bond prices were lower across the curve, with the two-year bond sagging 2 Canadian cents to yield 1.124 percent. The 10-year bond sank 20 Canadian cents to yield 2.000 percent.