Loonie slides as jobs decline shows cracks in economy's resilience

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, unwinding much of this week’s gains after data showing a slump in domestic jobs suggested the economy was not as resilient as the Bank of Canada had hoped.

FILE PHOTO: A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

The Canadian job market lost 71,200 net positions in November while the unemployment rate rose to 5.9%, the highest in more than a year, data from Statistics Canada showed. Analysts had forecast a gain of 10,000 jobs.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate on hold at 1.75% as it cited sources of resilience in the Canadian economy.

The jobs decline shows the economy is “not as resilient as maybe the bank had conveyed” but is not going to trigger an imminent cut to interest rates, said Scott Lampard, head of global markets at HSBC Bank Canada.

Chances of an interest rate cut at the central bank's next meeting in January rose but were less than 20%, the overnight index swaps market indicated. BOCWATCH

The central bank said Governor Stephen Poloz will step down when his seven-year mandate expires in June, which market players had expected.

At 3:51 p.m. (2051 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.6% lower at 1.3259 to the greenback, or 75.42 U.S. cents. The currency, which notched a four-week high on Thursday at 1.3158, traded in a range of 1.3173 to 1.3270.

For the week, the loonie was on track to rise 0.1%.

Speculators have raised their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed. As of Dec. 3, net long positions had increased to 21,471 contracts from 20,344 in the prior week.

The U.S. dollar .DXY rallied on Friday against a basket of major currencies after data showed the U.S. economy created many more jobs than expected in November.

The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, rose as a meeting of OPEC and its allies agreed to deepen output cuts. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 were up 1.1% at $59.07 a barrel.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR up 5 Canadian cents to yield 1.654% and the 10-year CA10YT=RR rising 31 Canadian cents to yield 1.579%.

The gap between Canada’s two-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 5.9 basis points to a spread of 3.9 basis points in favor of the Canadian bond.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown