TORONTO – The Canadian dollar continued to lose ground Monday amid lower commodities and disappointing economic data.

The loonie fell 0.16 of a cent to 99.57 cents US on top of a loss of about half a cent Friday that followed the release of disappointing readings on employment and housing starts for January.

The economy shed 21,900 jobs last month. Economists had looked for a gain of about 5,000.

And housing starts plunged to 160,600 in January, down considerably from a revised 197,100 reading in December and much lower than the 195,000 that economists had forecast.

Oil prices shed early losses and the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.31 to US$97.03 a barrel.

March copper was four cents lower at US$3.72 a pound while April gold bullion faded $17.80 to US$1,649.10 an ounce.

Meanwhile, it’s a quiet day on the economic calendar. The major Canadian reports come out Friday when traders will look to the latest reading on manufacturing shipments and new home prices.

Traders also looked to Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney. He is making an appearance Tuesday morning before the House of Commons finance committee.

In the U.S., January retail sales are released Wednesday while investors will assess the mood of the consumer when the University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index is released.