* Ends at C$1.0033 to the US$, or or 99.67 U.S. cents
* U.S. jobs numbers raise fears of sluggish recovery
* Bond prices flat to higher across the curve
* Most Canada dealers see first BoC rate hike in July
(Updates to close, adds details, quotes)
TORONTO, April 15 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar retreated
from parity with its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, finishing
the session lower as oil prices dropped and investor sentiment
was bruised by data pointing to a weak U.S. labor market.
U.S. manufacturers were busy in April as factories ramped
up production to rebuild inventories, but a rise in initial
jobless claims suggested a sluggish economic recovery.
"The key factor is, in some ways, the disappointing report
out of the U.S. on jobless claims," said Millan Mulraine,
economics strategist at TD Securities.
"The more prolonged the U.S. economic recovery becomes the
less favorable it is for risk assets and risk currencies like
the Canadian dollar," he said.
"Slow employment growth in the U.S. will certainly mean
slower demand for goods produced by Canada, and that will
certainly put some dampening impact on the excitement investors
have towards the Canadian dollar."
North American equity markets were also on a somewhat
wobbly footing on Thursday, while the euro fell broadly as
worries about Greece's debt problems persisted. [FRX/]
The Canadian dollar
finished at C$1.0033 to the
U.S. dollar, or 99.67 U.S. cents, down from Wednesday's close
at C$0.9992 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0008, the unit's first
close above parity with the greenback since May 2008.
Earlier in the day, the currency
hit a high of
C$0.9964 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0036, supported by further
signs of growth in China. Still, the U.S. jobless claims data
and persistent concerns about Greece kept optimism contained.
Also weighing on the currency were oil prices, which fell
below $86 a barrel on a stronger U.S. dollar and the mixed
economic data. [O/R] [ID:nTOE63D091]
Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital
Markets, said the market was awaiting more direction from the
Bank of Canada next week, when it issues its interest rate
announcement as well as its Monetary Policy Report.
A Reuters poll conducted on Thursday revealed most of
Canada's primary securities dealers expect the central bank
will raise interest rates in July as the high-flying Canadian
dollar gives it some wiggle room even as the economy picks up
"I think it's clear the Canadian economy is doing well,"
said David Ipperciel, vice-president and director of sales at
Casgain & Co. "Technically, they could raise their rates more,
but the currency is helping them."
The bank has said it will hold its key rate at a historic
low of 0.25 percent, so long as inflation remains in check.
Canadian bond prices were flat to slightly higher across
the curve, but the trend mirrored the U.S. Treasury bonds,
which rose on worries about the state of the U.S. labor market
and doubts about a Greek aid package. [US/]
"We're having a bit of flight to safety. Treasuries have
been the pick of the assets today," said Mulraine.
The two-year government bond
ticked 2 Canadian
cents higher to C$99.21 to yield 1.933 percent, while the
30-year bond was unchanged at C$114.45 to yield
Canadian government bonds mostly underperformed U.S.
issues, with the two-year yield 90.1 basis points above its
U.S. counterpart, compared with around 88 basis points the
(Additional reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Rob