08/09/2013 08:51 EDT | Updated 10/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Loonie climbs amid poor jobs data, flat housing starts in Canada

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed higher Friday amid surprising jobs data and positive indicators that showed China's economy was faring well.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.28 of a cent to 97.14 cents US.

Statistics Canada reported that the economy shed 39,400 jobs last month, enough to push the unemployment rate up one-tenth of a point to 7.2 per cent.

It was the second consecutive monthly loss of jobs and came as a surprise to markets, which had expected something closer to the economists' consensus of a modest 10,000 employment gain.

The agency said a loss of 74,000 was in the public sector, mostly in health care, social assistance and administration, was the main reason for the poor July labour market performance. Private employers added 31,400 jobs during the month.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said total housing starts continued to be relatively stable in July.

The federal agency estimated there were 17,993 actual starts in July which, extrapolated over 12 months, gives a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 192,853 starts. That was slightly down from June's adjusted annual rate of 193,797 starts.

Meanwhile, Chinese inflation in July was steady at an annual rate of 2.7 per cent — slightly below an expected modest increase to 2.8 per cent.

Industrial production rose 9.7 per cent in the year to June, ahead of expectations for a nine per cent increase and retail sales grew 13.2 per cent in July from a year earlier.

On the commodities front, December bullion gained $2.30 to US$1,312.20 an ounce.

The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up $2.57 to US$105.97 a barrel. Copper was ahead four cents to $3.31.