* C$ down at C$0.9728, or $1.0280
* Bonds mixed across the curve
* U.S. payrolls expected to be strong
* C$ range of C$0.9760/80 to C$0.9680
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar nudged lower against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, but remained range-bound ahead of the U.S. monthly jobs data.
A Reuters poll forecasts an increase of 185,000 new jobs when February employment data is released at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). This would be the biggest gain in nearly a year and the strongest signal that the economic recovery was on track. [ID:nN01163324]
"I think the market's leaning on a stronger number for the U.S. The question is how strong and what's that going to mean for (Canada)?" said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital.
"The underlying factors are, what's good for the U.S. is good for the Canadian economy. We are seeing signs of life down south of the border so I think that's been helping the Canadian dollar along."
At 7:52 a.m. (1252 GMT), the currency CAD=D4 stood at C$0.9728 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0280, down from Thursday's North American finish of C$0.9722, or $1.0286.
Butler said the currency has been trapped just above the low C$0.9700 range, with the fundamentals still strong in Canada. The Canadian dollar was seen moving between a low of C$0.9760 to C$0.9780 and a high of C$0.9680.
Government bond prices were mixed across the curve.
The two-year bond CA2YT=RR was flat, with a yield of 1.879 percent, while the 10-year bond CA10YT=RR added 11 Canadian cents to yield 3.383 percent. (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)