CANADA FX DEBT-C$ firms to two-week high on strong economic data

* Canadian dollar at C$1.0992 or 90.98 U.S. cents
    * Bond prices lower across the maturity curve

    By Leah Schnurr
    TORONTO, March 6 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar hit a
two-week high against the greenback on Thursday, boosted by
stronger-than-expected economic data and as investors were
optimistic that diplomatic efforts would cool tensions in
    Data showed the value of building permits issued in Canada
jumped 8.5 percent in January, far surpassing economists'
forecasts. In addition, construction intentions in the
residential sector hit a record high. 
    Separate data showed the pace of purchasing activity picked
up in February, beating expectations for a slowdown.
    "We really had this strong Canadian data that came out and I
think that also boosted some of the sentiment," said Rahim
Madhavji, president at in Toronto.
    "We saw a pretty strong rally for the loonie, which is
something we really haven't seen in a long time."
    The loonie also benefited from some better risk appetite in
markets broadly as European leaders gathered for an emergency
summit looking for ways to pressure Russia to back down after
Russian forces effectively seized Crimea. 
    "What we're seeing is the hope or expectation that there
will be a diplomatic resolution to everything," said Scott
Smith, senior market analyst at Cambridge Mercantile Group in
    Even so, Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia, setting a
referendum within 10 days that could potentially mark an
escalation of tensions in the region.
    The Canadian dollar ended the North American
session at C$1.0992 to the greenback, or 90.98 U.S. cents,
stronger than Wednesday's close of C$1.1038, or 90.60 U.S.
cents. The loonie hit a session high of C$1.0955, its highest
since Feb. 19.
    Investors were turning their attention to unemployment data
that will be released early Friday in both Canada and the United
States. Canada is forecast to have added 15,000 jobs in
February, a slower pace than the month before, while the
unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 7 percent.
    Market participants were also digesting Wednesday's strong
move higher for the Canadian dollar after the Bank of Canada
kept to its neutral policy stance, rather than turning even more
dovish as some had feared.
    Canadian government bond prices were lower across the
maturity curve, with the two-year down 2 Canadian
cents to yield 1.055 percent and the benchmark 10-year
 down 28 Canadian cents to yield 2.508 percent.