* North American session high is C$1.0011 to US$
* Bank of Canada surveys see upbeat business mood
* Finance minister says C$ rise "relatively orderly"
* Housing starts unexpectedly dipped 1.5 pct in March
* Bonds weaker across curve
(Updates to close, adds bond details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, April 12 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar rose
against the U.S. dollar on Monday and came within spitting
distance of parity after Bank of Canada surveys pointed to an
upbeat business mood, enhancing the market notion that the
central bank would raise interest rates at midyear.
The currency rose as high as C$1.0011 to the U.S. dollar,
or 99.89 U.S. cents, after the Bank of Canada reports were
released. For more details, please see: [ID:nN12189792]
"The Canada specific portion of it really comes down to the
appreciation that we saw ... with the business outlook survey
in Canada reflecting reasonably well on the Canadian economy
and the loonie, and allowing it to spread its wings a little
bit," said Eric Lascelles, chief economics and rates strategist
at TD Securities.
The Canadian dollar <CAD=D3> finished at C$1.0033 to the
U.S. dollar, or 99.67 U.S. cents, slightly higher than Friday's
close of C$1.0040 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.60 U.S. cents.
The central bank has kept its key overnight interest rate
at a historic low of 0.25 percent since April 2009, pledging to
maintain that level until the end of June, unless inflation
threatens to spiral out of control.
The bank's surveys indicate that the economic recovery is
on track, said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at
RBC Capital Markets, and support "the notion the Bank of Canada
will have to move on interest rates once the conditional
The release of the surveys coincided with comments by
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who repeated that the recent
rise by the currency has been "relatively orderly".
Flaherty's comments soothed any potential market jitters
about the currency's rise, Strauss said.
"(The government) continues to emphasize or imply that it's
mostly fundamentals that have driven the Canadian dollar to
current levels rather than by speculation, i.e. from their side
they seem pretty comfortable with the current levels with the
Canadian dollar," he added.
The currency's rise was also underpinned by news that
Chinese state-owned company Sinopec plans to buy
ConocoPhillips' stake in the largest project in Canada's oil
sands for $4.65 billion. [ID:nN12190582] The news fueled
speculation that more deals in the oil sands could follow, and
that subsequent merger and acquisition-related currency flows
could support the Canadian dollar.
Data on Monday showed Canadian housing starts unexpectedly
dipped 1.5 percent in March, but the two previous months were
revised higher, suggesting the residential housing sector
remains a positive factor in the country's economic recovery.
Early in the day, the currency weakened as euro zone
finance ministers agreed to a rescue package for Greece,
sparking a rush to buy the European currency.
The ministers approved a 30 billion euro ($40.5 billion)
aid package of loans. For details see [ID:nLDE63A0BO]
The euro rose to its highest level against the greenback in
nearly a month on Monday. [FRX/]
BOND PRICES SAG
Canadian bond prices were flat to lower across the curve as
the market reacted to the Bank of Canada surveys.
"It really is dwelling exclusively on the business outlook
survey," TD's Lascelles said.
"The business outlook survey reflects quite well on
Canada's growth prospects and suggests again that, perhaps not
that the Bank of Canada hikes sooner, but it confirms the
thinking that the Bank of Canada is in play and will be moving
(to raise rates) before too long," he said.
Bond prices typically fall when rates are on the rise as
their fixed payments look less attractive in comparison with
the rising yields on other short-term investments.
The two-year government bond <CA2YT=RR> limped 2 Canadian
cents lower to C$99.35 to yield 1.855 percent, while the
10-year bond <CA10YT=RR> fell 12 Canadian cents to C$100.65 to
yield 3.666 percent.
Canadian government bonds mostly underperformed U.S.
issues, with the Canadian two-year yield 82 basis points above
its U.S. counterpart, compared with around 78 basis points the
(Additional reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter