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Statistics Canada 1

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada was checking Friday to ensure that the better-than expected jobs report didn't leak prematurely into the marketplace amid rumours it had and triggered a strong rally in the loonie on foreign financial markets.

Geoff Bowlby, director of labour statistics at Statistics Canada, said it was only a rumour, but the agency was checking to make sure it did all that it could to make sure the numbers weren't leaked ahead of the 7 a.m. ET official release time.

"It doesn't look like there was any reason to believe that there was a leak from anyone at StatsCan," Bowlby said in an interview.

"We keep this on a need to know basis. If there is any number at StatsCan that's heavily guarded it's the labour force survey numbers."

Canada's dollar surged as much as 0.7 per cent in the hour before the official jobs numbers were released at 7 a.m. suggesting some investors may have been betting the numbers would be good and the loonie would rise.

In its jobs report, Statistics Canada reported a gain of 35,900 workers for April - most in the self-employed category - while the consensus expectations by the market was for a loss of 50,000 jobs for the month.

The increase was the first expansion in the Canadian job market in six months.

The loonie closed up 1.69 cents on the day at 86.98 cents U.S.

Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier, a Toronto-based brokerage, said the numbers didn't necessarily have to be leaked for the loonie to make a big move, since a rumour of good news can move the market.

Nakamoto said rumours could be started by those trying to help their own portfolio, but other times it can be more innocent.

"Often times I think it is just misinterpretation by someone," he said. "Some of it is just innocent, where you hear something and you miss part of it and you pass that information along."

And a rumour isn't the only thing that can move the market, Nakamoto said. Sometimes all it takes is a big trade.

"It's sort of the lead steer mentality," he said. "Someone starts the ball rolling or a few people start the ball rolling and others say, 'they must know something, let's get in."'

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was not notified of any possible leaks of the job numbers.

"I would be concerned if there were leaks, of course, and Statistics Canada I'm sure will do its job to make sure that the information is kept confidential," he said following a business speech in Hamilton.