Canadian dollar rises on positive jobs, housing reports; commodities mixed

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed higher Monday, lifted by strong jobs data at the end of last week and a new report showing rising housing starts.

The loonie was up 0.08 of a cent to 98.14 cents US after Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Monday that housing starts were trending at 182,756 units in May compared with 182,971 in April. The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts.

But the seasonally adjusted stand-alone annual rate was 200,178 units in May, an increase from 175,922 in April.

“May’s increase in home building suggests overall housing construction continues to garner support from condominium-related building, although the overall levels are still off from the highs seen in mid-2012 when the market was more frothy,” said CIBC World Markets economist Emanuella Enenajor.

“Today’s data could mean that home building activity in the second quarter could be less of a drag than seen in the prior quarter.”

The dollar had jumped about six-tenths of a cent on Friday after Statistics Canada said the economy cranked out an impressive 95,000 jobs last month.

Meanwhile, commodity prices were generally lower amid other data from the weekend that showed China’s trade, retail sales and other activity in May were weaker than expected, fuelling concerns about the country’s shaky economic recovery.

China’s trade surplus rose to $20.4 billion in May from $18.2 billion in the prior month. However, export growth slowed dramatically to just one per cent from a year ago, which was the slowest increase since July 2012. Imports slipped 0.3 per cent from year-earlier levels.

July crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed 26 cents to US$95.77 a barrel.

July copper fell three cents to US$3.24 a pound on top a 10-cent slide over the previous two sessions. Copper is widely viewed as an economic barometer as it is used in so many applications.

And August bullion was up $3 to US$1,386 an ounce.