Canadian dollar holds near 11-day high as Chinese data boosts sentiment

A Canada Dollar note is seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was nearly unchanged against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, steadying near an earlier 11-day high as oil prices rose and a surprise recovery in China factory activity boosted investor sentiment.

Stocks and the price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, were boosted by data showing a pick-up in China’s manufacturing activity and further hints of progress in U.S.-China trade talks. U.S. crude prices were up nearly 1 percent at $60.71 a barrel.

At 9:19 a.m. (1319 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading nearly flat at 1.3346 to the greenback, or 74.93 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest intraday level since March 21 at 1.3339.

The nearly two-week high for the loonie came after data on Friday showed surprising strength in the domestic economy.

On Friday, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed that speculators have cut their bearish bets on the Canadian dollar. As of March 26, net short positions had fallen to 39,571 contracts from 47,774 in the prior week.

The loonie declined 1.3 percent in March but was up 2.2 percent for the first quarter, the best performance in the G10.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across a steeper yield curve, tracking declines for U.S. Treasuries despite an unexpected drop in U.S. retail sales in February.

The two-year fell 1.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.557 percent and the 10-year was down 20 Canadian cents to yield 1.64 percent.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Susan Thomas