* Canadian dollar rises to 94.98 U.S. cents
* Bernanke comments provide support
* Building permits data adds to optimism
(Recasts with close, adds analyst comment)
TORONTO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar rose on
Monday, boosted by strong domestic economic data and a drop in
expectations that the U.S. central bank will raise interest
rates any time soon.
The currency closed stronger after U.S. Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that while the U.S. economy has
improved, the recovery remains fragile. [ID:nN07169826].
"Bernanke really threw some water on the fire ... he
basically reiterated that rates are going to be on hold in the
U.S. for quite some time so I think that took some of the shine
off the U.S. dollar," said Steve Butler, director of foreign
exchange trading at Scotia Capital.
The U.S. dollar had rallied against a range of currencies
on Friday, including Canada's, after data showed U.S. employers
cut far fewer-than-expected jobs in November and the
unemployment rate fell.
The data had led some investors to bet U.S. rates could
rise sooner than expected. Rising interest rates can help
attract capital flows and strengthen a currency.
The same day, Canada said its economy added five times more
workers than expected in November. [ID:nN04141170]
"After the mayhem on Friday I think that the market
realized that we did have a pretty solid employment report and
net net things in Canada are pretty good," Butler said.
Adding to optimism about the Canadian outlook was a report
on Monday that showed the value of building permits shot up 18
percent in October. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast, on
average, a mere 1 percent rise. [ID:nN073438]
"We did have some pretty nice looking economic data ... No
one had expected a number anywhere close to that," said Eric
Lascelles, chief economics and rates strategist at TD
Still, evidence the economy is kicking back to life is not
expected to drive up Canadian interest rates any time soon. The
Bank of Canada is seen keeping rates near zero when it makes
its scheduled rate-setting announcement on Tuesday and
committing to do so until at least July. [ID:nN07158839]
The Canadian dollar closed at C$1.0529 to the U.S. dollar,
or 94.98 U.S. cents, up from Friday's finish at C$1.0579 to the
U.S. dollar, or 94.53 U.S. cents.
BONDS EDGE HIGHER
Canadian bond prices were mostly stronger on Monday,
mirroring gains in U.S. Treasuries, which rose on the fresh
evidence that interest rates there will stay low. [US/]
The two-year Canadian government bond <CA2YT=RR> rose 7.5
Canadian cents to C$100.04 to yield 1.23 percent. The 10-year
bond <CA10YT=RR> climbed 33 Canadian cents to C$103.80 to yield
Canadian government bonds mostly outperformed U.S.
Treasuries, with the 10-year yield falling to almost 16 basis
points below its U.S. counterpart, from 14 basis points on
In new issue news, the province of Nova Scotia and utility
Hydro-Quebec together priced C$900 million in debt. [CAN-TNC]
(Reporting by Frank Pingue, Jennifer Kwan and Jeffrey Hodgson;
editing by Peter Galloway)