CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms to five-week high, U.S. data helps

* C$ at C$1.0264 vs US$, or 97.43 U.S. cents
    * U.S. weekly jobless claims up slightly, durable goods rise
in June
    * Bond yields mixed

    By Solarina Ho
    TORONTO, July 25 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar
strengthened on Thursday to its firmest level in five weeks
against its U.S. counterpart, helped in part by U.S. data that
lifted sentiment about the outlook for Canada's largest export
    A gauge of planned U.S. business spending on capital goods
rose in June, buoying hopes of an acceleration in economic
growth in the second half of 2013. 
    The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless
benefits rose slightly last week but remained within a range
that suggests the U.S. labor market continues to improve at a
moderate pace. A four-week average of new claims, which smoothes
out volatility, fell by 1,250 from a week earlier.
    "The market's buying into the 'good U.S. recovery is good
for Canada' story," said Don Mikolich, executive director,
foreign exchange sales, CIBC world markets. "Retail sales still
has a bit of an afterglow from Tuesday as people have maybe
marked up their forecast a bit there."
    Higher auto sales helped drive Canadian retail sales 1.9
percent higher in May from April, the biggest monthly jump in
more than three years and far greater than the 0.4 percent
growth predicted by market operators. 
    A number of economists speculate that the data could signal
higher-than-expected economic growth data for the second
quarter. Canada's economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in
the first quarter.    
    The Canadian dollar, which was mixed against other
major currencies, finished the North American session at
C$1.0264 versus the greenback, or 97.43 U.S. cents. This was
firmer than Wednesday's finish at C$1.0316, or 96.94 U.S. cents.
At one point, it touched C$1.0255, its strongest level since
June 19.
    The currency was trading at its weakest level against the
New Zealand dollar in about seven weeks.
    Investors are also turning their focus to next week's data.
U.S. economic growth data and payroll processor ADP's
private-sector jobs report will be the early indicators for the
health of the U.S. labor market. U.S. employment figures for
July are due at the end of next week. 
    "The big dollar generally is driving everything in our
markets at the moment and that's driven by expectations of the
Fed, and Fed policy's driven basically by the labor market,"
said Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy at RBC Capital
Markets in London.
    The price of Canadian government debt was mixed. The
two-year bond fell half a Canadian cent to yield
1.151 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond rose
13 Canadian cents to yield 2.463 percent.