Stocks and the Canadian dollar continued to fall on Thursday, with oil set to have its first weekly decline since mid-February.

After sinking by a penny on Wednesday, the loonie lost another quarter of a cent to close at 75.53 cents US.

That was mainly because of a strengthening greenback. The U.S. dollar has risen against most currencies after regional Federal Reserve presidents expressed support for a rate increase in the near future.

The U.S. dollar has been down in the past month since the Fed signalled a slower pace of rate hikes for 2016, but statements today seem to indicate an early move, potentially next month, if U.S. economic strength holds.

The falling price of oil also hurt the loonie and the TSX. West Texas Intermediate, the main North American contract, fell steeply on Thursday morning but recovered in the afternoon after release of the Baker Hughes rig count.

At the end of the trading day, it was down 33 cents to $39.46 US a barrel. Brent crude was down five cents to $40.42 US a barrel.

Oil was down early in the day because of a report yesterday about mounting stockpiles of crude in the U.S. But the weekly rig count report, released a day early, showed the number of U.S. drilling rigs dropped by 12 to 464 rigs, compared to 1,048 last year. 

BMO economist Doug Porter says there are encouraging signs that low crude prices have made a meaningful drop in supply.

U.S. production is down 384,000 barrels a day from a year ago and is poised to drop further, he said in a report to clients.

The TSX continued to lose ground, falling 21 points to 13,358.

Markets worldwide are down in reaction to a potential spring hike in U.S. interest rates and the uncertainty created by the Brussels attacks.

This morning's U.S. factory output numbers also weighed on stock prices, with the Commerce Department reporting that orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods fell 2.8 per cent in February,.

The Dow Jones industrial index fell early in the day but closed up 13 points to 17,515 and the broader S&P was off less than a point at 2,035.