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Loonie heads lower

The Canadian dollar was lower Wednesday as traders waited for a key statement from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that has the potential to alter exchange rates.

Prior to the markets opening, the loonie was down of 0.41 of a cent to 96.98 cents US.

Bernanke will speak to the U.S. Congress about the central bank's aggressive monetary policy program. The Fed will also be releasing its minutes from its most recent meeting the same day.

Investors had been worried that the Fed would begin pulling back its quantitative easing program since recent data showed that outlooks for housing and jobs in the U.S. were rosier than expected.

The stimulus has resulted in more liquidity in financial markets over the past few years, and sent stock indexes around the world to record-highs while keeping long-term U.S. interest rates low.

Bernanke's speech comes after two Fed presidents said on Tuesday that the U.S. central bank should continue with its monetary stimulus, and exercise caution on when to taper it off.

On the commodities front, June gold bullion jumped ahead $16.40 to US$1,394 an ounce and July copper surged seven cents to $3.41 a pound. The June crude contract was down 35 cents to US$95.83 a barrel.



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