CANADA FX DEBT-C$ at 3-week high on robust housing data
* C$ at C$1.0373 vs US$, or 96.40 U.S. cents * Building permits soar 20.7 percent vs expected 1 pct * Bond prices rise across the curve By Solarina Ho TORONTO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar touched its firmest level in almost three weeks against a broadly weaker U.S. dollar on Monday in the wake of surprisingly strong Canadian building permits data, which hit a record. The U.S. dollar continued to be pressured by a disappointing U.S. jobs report on Friday. The construction sector was unexpectedly robust in July, with the number of building permits issued up 20.7 percent, far surpassing the 1 percent rise economists polled by Reuters had expected. Most of the gains were for commercial buildings, while housing saw a more modest rise. "There was a slight uptick for Canada (dollar) strengthening as we got the building permits data. Most of the time, people ignore it because it's such a volatile report," said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian fixed income and currency strategy at RBC Capital Markets. "But within the guts of the report, there was still some pretty good news on housing. If you look at the unit sales data, it's the fourth month that we've seen it over 200,000." The Canadian dollar ended the session trading at C$1.0373 versus the U.S. dollar, or 96.40 U.S. cents, stronger than Friday's North American finish at C$1.0409, or 96.07 U.S. cents. It hit its strongest level since Aug. 20 in afternoon trade. "It was a slow grind. That speaks to the fact that a lot of it is the market digesting the U.S.-dollar negative news from Friday," said Greg Moore, a foreign exchange strategist at TD Securities. "The building permits data from Canada did add a small pop in the Canadian dollar." The U.S. dollar weakness followed Friday's U.S. jobs report. The report spurred more discussion on when the U.S. Federal Reserve might begin scaling back its stimulus program. With little data on tap both in the United States and Canada this week, broader currency movements are expected to be dictated by developments in Syria, said Chandler. Prices for Canadian government debt rose across the maturity curve, with the two-year bond up 2.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.279 percent and the benchmark 10-year bond climbing 22 Canadian cents to yield 2.744 percent.