CANADA FX DEBT-C$ climbs to 3-month high, commodities support

* Hits high at C$1.0245, or 97.61 U.S. cents

* Soft U.S. retail data pressures greenback

* Commodities little changed, offer some support

* Bonds mostly follow U.S. Treasury prices higher (Updates to midday, adds quotes)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar shot to a three-month high against the U.S. currency on Thursday as the greenback fell on soft U.S. economic data and the Canadian currency gained momentum after piercing key technical levels.

The Canadian unit rose as far as C$1.0245 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.61 U.S. cents, a three month high. The move was aided by a solid performance among commodity-linked currencies, but gained steam as the Canadian dollar firmly pierced C$1.0300, said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

“The underlying global backdrop supported commodity-based currencies but the (Canadian dollar’s) move against the U.S. dollar had more to do with important technical levels being broken,” he said.

Market watchers will now wait and see if the currency is able to pierce its Oct. 15 high of C$1.0207 to the U.S. dollar, a signal that it could quickly reach parity.

Thursday’s move higher came as the U.S. dollar and fell against the yen after data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell last month, supporting the view that the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep interest rates on hold in the foreseeable future. [FRX/]

At 1:06 p.m. (1806 GMT), the Canadian dollar was at C$1.0262 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.45 U.S. cents, up from Wednesday’s finish at C$1.0306 to the U.S. dollar, or 97.03 U.S. cents.

Canada’s currency was supported by relatively steady commodity prices and on cheery sentiment around other commodity currencies, such as the Australian dollar, said Strauss.

The Australian dollar rose against the yen and hit a two-month high versus the U.S. dollar after data showed Australia’s jobless rate at an eight-month low, adding to the case for higher interest rates. [ID:nSGE60C06P]

Canadian bond prices were flat to higher, influenced by the bigger U.S. Treasury market where prices added to gains after the surprise drop in retail sales and higher than expected new jobless claims, said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotia Capital. [US/] (Editing by Rob Wilson)