C$ rallies to a three-week high as oil prices surge

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar rallied to a three-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as crude oil prices rose, while the potential for a U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike in March was not aided by weaker-than-expected U.S. data.

The new Canadian five and 10 dollar bills, made of polymer, are displayed with the previously released 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes following an unveiling ceremony at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Oil rose above $34 per barrel, supported by the possibility that major producers may cooperate to cut production.

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods tumbled 5.1 percent in December, the latest sign that economic growth weakened significantly at the end of 2015.

The U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday and said it was “closely monitoring” global economic and financial developments.

At 9:52 a.m. EST, the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.4012 to the greenback, or 71.37 U.S. cents, stronger than the Bank of Canada's official close of C$1.4103, or 70.91 U.S. cents.

The currency touched its strongest level since Jan. 5 at C$1.3948, while its weakest level was C$1.4120.

Canadian average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were little changed in November, Statistics Canada said. The number of non-farm payroll jobs decreased by 28,100 in the same month following an increase of 43,300 in October.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across the maturity curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR price down 4.5 Canadian cents to yield 0.446 percent and the benchmark 10-year CA10YT=RR falling 21 Canadian cents to yield 1.269 percent.

The Canada-U.S. two-year bond spread was 2 basis points less negative at -39.5 basis points as U.S. Treasuries outperformed at the front of the curve.

Canadian gross domestic product data for November is awaited on Friday, expected to show a rebound in growth after October's contraction. ECONCA

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski