* Canadian dollar hits six-week high
* Bonds lower across the curve
* Canada housings starts up 6.1 pct, better-than-expected
TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar hit a
six-week high against the U.S. dollar on Monday after data
showed a bigger-than-expected rise in Canadian housing starts.
Data showed new home construction in Canada rose 6.1
percent in February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 196,700
units, beating the consensus expectation of analysts who had
called for 190,000 starts. [ID:nN08168275]
The Canadian dollar rose as high as C$1.0257
against its U.S. counterpart, or 97.49 U.S. cents, its
strongest since Jan. 19.
But it pared gains as the details of the report showed that
new home construction in the often-volatile multi-dwelling
sector far outpaced the gains made by the closely-watched
single-family home component.
"The details weren't quite as spectacular as we would have
liked. So you get a little bit of a reaction of Canadian dollar
strength after the number, and then it's faded as people dig
into the numbers a bit," said David Watt, senior currency
strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
Still, the commodity-linked currency held onto a good
portion of early gains, boosted by increased investor appetite
for risk and by a rise in oil prices, an important Canadian
export, to nearly $82 a barrel.
At 8:50 a.m. (1350 GMT), the Canadian dollar was at
C$1.0268 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.39 U.S. cents, up from
Friday's finish at C$1.0305 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.04 U.S.
The Canadian dollar is working on its seventh straight day
of gains after last week rising 2 U.S. cents on a combination
of strong economic data and firming prices for key Canadian
commodities. It was also fueled by a Bank of Canada statement
last week that sounded slightly more hawkish on rates.
Bonds, on the other hand, have headed lower because of
solidifying expectations that the global recovery is on track
and that domestic interest rates are likely to rise in the
second half of the year.
The two-year Canadian government bond
Canadian cents to C$99.93 to yield 1.538 percent, while the
10-year bond dropped 17 Canadian cents to C$102.01
to yield 3.493 percent.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)