Canadian dollar snaps losing streak as jobs boom clips rate cut bets

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a five-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Friday as domestic data showing a bigger-than-expected jobs gain in August reduced investor expectations for a Bank of Canada interest rate cut next month.

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

Canada’s economy added 81,100 jobs in August, largely driven by increases in part-time work, Statistics Canada data showed. That was much more than the 15,000 increase that analysts had expected.

“If the Bank of Canada was on the fence about cutting rates in October, today’s jobs numbers might be one further push toward standing pat,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Chances of a cut at the Bank of Canada's next interest rate decision on Oct. 30 fell to 22% from 28% before the data, the overnight index swaps market indicated. BOCWATCH

They were nearly 70% before Wednesday’s interest decision, which showed no indication that the central bank was planning to cut rates despite easing this year by many of its global peers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Ivey Purchasing Managers Index data was also upbeat, showing that the pace of economic activity in Canada picked up in August as inventories climbed.

At 3:05 p.m. (1905 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading 0.4% higher at 1.3172 to the greenback, or 75.92 U.S. cents.

The currency touched its strongest level since July 31 at 1.3159. For the week, it was up 1.0%, its first advance since the first half of July.

Gains for the loonie came as the U.S. dollar was pressured by data showing U.S. employers added fewer workers than expected in August and as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell promised the central bank will continue to act “as appropriate” to sustain an economic expansion.

Powell's comments helped boost the price of oil, one of Canada's major exports. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 0.4% higher at $56.52 a barrel.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across a flatter yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR down 7 Canadian cents to yield 1.492% and the 10-year CA10YT=RR falling 15 Canadian cents to yield 1.281%.

The gap between Canada’s two-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed 4.8 basis points to a spread of -4.0 basis points, its narrowest gap since October 2017.

Reporting By Tom Brown