Loonie soars on jobs report

A strong jobs report pushed the Canadian dollar to its highest point in nearly two years on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 98.24 cents US around 4 p.m. ET Friday, up 0.61 of a cent.

That's the highest level for Canada's currency since July 2008. It finished Friday up .57 at 98.20 US.

Earlier in the day, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy added roughly 21,000 jobs in February. Currency traders reacted almost instantly, pushing the loonie up more than half a cent in the minutes following the data.

The knee-jerk rise in the loonie was supported by the fact the underlying data was even stronger than the headline — some 60,200 full-time jobs were created during the month, which was only partially offset by a decline in part-time jobs.

"The currency market is very wise," said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets. "It decided that the underlying details were even better than the headline number."

"Companies appear to be upgrading some part-time workers into full-timers, which we view as a positive for the Canadian economy as a whole," United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir said.

Stocks also rise

Meanwhile, the TSX finished the day above the benchmark 12,000-point level, with the S&P/TSX composite index closing at 12,013.82, up 34.12 points on the day. It had earlier been as high as 12,047.

Energy firms led the TSX higher after the Alberta government announced Thursday it is cutting the royalties it charges the oil and gas industries.

Market heavyweight Potash Corp. also drove gains after the fertilizer giant's share moved more than $9 higher to more than $128 a share after it increased it first-quarter earnings guidance on a rebound in demand for potash.