* C$ ends at C$1.0335 per US$, or 96.76 U.S. cents
* Pulls back after touching highest level since Oct. 15
* Housing starts data better than expected
* Bond prices mixed
(Updates to close, adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar sagged on
Monday after climbing to a near three-month high against the
U.S. currency as oil prices weakened and investors took a
breather after recent gains.
Early on Monday, the currency rose as high as C$1.0252 to
the U.S. dollar, or 97.54 U.S. cents -- the highest level since
Oct. 15 -- bolstered by the price of oil, a key Canadian
export, and on strong Chinese trade data. [ID:nSGE60A01E]
The move higher was supported by domestic data that showed
more evidence that the housing sector was leading Canada's
Housing starts rose 5.9 percent in December to a seasonally
adjusted rate of 174,500 units from an upwardly revised 164,800
units in November, topping analysts' expectations for 160,000
As well, two surveys showed Canadian businesses are
regaining confidence in the economy and can obtain credit more
However, the Canadian dollar pulled back from earlier highs
to finish the session at C$1.0335 to the U.S. dollar, or 96.76
U.S. cents, down from Friday's close at C$1.0309 to the U.S.
dollar, or 97.00 U.S. cents.
"I think it's more profit-taking than anything else. Canada
was an outperformer for the last week or two," said Shane
Enright, executive director, foreign exchange sales, at CIBC
Enright added that investors may also be tweaking positions
following the release of soft employment data in the United
States and Canada on Friday.
The U.S. dollar fell broadly on Monday, pressured by the
lingering affects of U.S. employment data that showed employers
unexpectedly cut 85,000 jobs in December, [FRX/] while Canada's
employment market stalled in December as employers unexpectedly
cut 2,600 jobs after big gains in November.
"It's certainly possible there was some flow around on
Friday that meant we did a little bit better on that data,
perhaps compared to what we should've, and I think we've seen
an adjustment to that," said Enright.
As well, the price of oil, which often influences the
currency's direction, turned south on Monday and put downward
pressure on the Canadian dollar, said Sal Guatieri, senior
economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Canadian bond prices were mixed, with the lower end firmer
and longer-dated bonds slightly lower, mirroring moves in the
bigger U.S. market, said Roger Quick, director of fixed-income
research at Scotia Capital.
"In the U.S., we have the long end a little bit weaker
because of supply this week. The front end is stronger just on
the view that the (the Federal Reserve) is not going to raising
rates for a long time," he said.
BMO's Guatieri said the longer end may have been pressured
by the rosier than expected Canadian housing data.
The two-year Canada bond <CA2YT=RR> was up 3 Canadian cents
at C$99.92 to yield 1.296 percent, while the 30-year bond
<CA30YT=RR> dropped 40 Canadian cents to C$114.00 to yield
Canadian bonds mostly underperformed U.S. issues, with the
two-year yield 35 basis points above its U.S. counterpart, up
from 33 basis points in the previous session.
(Editing by Rob Wil