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Loonie adds to losses, greenback strengthens in wake of U.S. manufacturing data

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed lower Thursday, adding to a steep loss in the previous session as traders assessed mixed manufacturing data.

The loonie fell 0.14 of a cent to 90.1 cents US as the greenback strengthened against other currencies after a private survey by Markit showed that manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years in February. Its Flash U.S. Manufacturing index rose to 56.7 from 53.7 in January.

Also, the Conference Board’s leading indicator, a measure of future growth, posted a moderate gain in January, suggesting the economy will continue to expand in the first half of this year.

That helped balance some negative Chinese data. HSBC’s preliminary version of its monthly China purchasing managers’ index fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 from January’s 49.5 on a 100-point scale. Numbers below 50 show activity contracting.

China’s economic activity has slowed steadily as the government tries to cool an investment boom and encourage more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption.

Commodity prices declined as the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 39 cents to US$102.92 a barrel.

March copper was a cent lower at US$3.28 a pound while April gold fell $3.50 to US$1,316.90 an ounce.

The dollar had fallen 1.08 cents US on Wednesday after wholesale sales fell 1.4 per cent in December to the lowest level in six months.

Other manufacturing and housing data had underscored how large amounts of snow and freezing temperatures are having an impact on U.S. economic performance.

Traders looked ahead to Friday and the latest Canadian readings on the consumer price index for January and retail sales for December.

The Canadian Press

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