By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was little changed against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, rebounding from an earlier six-week low, as gains for U.S. stocks offset the biggest decline in domestic jobs in nine years.
The decrease of 88,000 Canadian jobs was unexpected, against economists' forecasts for a gain of 10,000, and made for the biggest decline since January 2009.
Still, all the job losses were part-time, as full-time jobs rose 49,000. The economy added jobs last year at the fastest pace since 2002.
"It's certainly another reason for the Bank of Canada to bide its time and probably wait until July before raising interest rates again," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
"There's a lot of concerns about trade protectionism ... and the impact of new mortgage rules on our housing market."
Chances of a rate hike in April slipped to less than 50 percent from 58 percent before the jobs report, data from the overnight index swaps market showed.
The Bank of Canada last month raised its benchmark interest rate to 1.25 percent, its third hike since July.
U.S. stocks opened sharply higher as technology and financial stocks rose, but the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average remained on course for their biggest weekly losses in at least six years.
Commodity-linked currencies, such as the Canadian dollar tend to underperform when stocks fall. The loonie has retreated 2.6 percent since Wall Street began to head sharply lower a week ago.
At 9:58 a.m. EST (1458 GMT), the Canadian dollar
The currency's strongest level of the session was C$1.2561, while it touched its weakest since Dec. 27 at C$1.2690.
The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, fell for a sixth day and was on track for their biggest weekly losses in 10 months, as record-high U.S. crude output added to concerns about a sharp rise in global supplies.
Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield curve, with the two-year
The gap between Canada's 10-year yield and its U.S. equivalent widened by 3.5 basis points to a spread of -51.1 basis points, its widest since Dec. 19.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Bernadette Baum)