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The loonie climbs

The Canadian dollar advanced Monday ahead of key trade and growth data later in the week.

The loonie was up 0.56 of a cent to 90.38 cents US.

Statistics Canada releases growth data for December and the fourth quarter on Friday. Economists looked for the economy to contract by 0.3 per cent in December, largely because of crippling ice storms in Ontario and Quebec towards the end of the month. Growth for the quarter is reckoned to come in at 2.5 per cent.

On Thursday, the agency reports the latest data on the country's major trade indicator. CIBC World Markets believes the deficit is expected to grow by $2 billion to $17.5 billion.

Friday will also see the release of the first revision to U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth. The initial reading came in at 3.2 per cent but worsening weather in December likely pushed growth to around 2.7 per cent.

There were also some concerns over the Chinese property market.

Figures showed that average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 9.6 per cent in the year to January, down on the 9.9 per cent rise recorded in December. The first slowdown since November 2012 has added to fears that the banks are beginning to tighten their lending and that could mean Chinese growth falters.

Copper prices were down sharply in the wake of the China data with the March contract in New York down five cents to US$3.24 a pound. The April crude contract erased early losses to add 97 cents to US$103.17 a barrel.

Gold prices also headed higher with the April contract up $14 to US$1,337.60 an ounce.

The dollar had a rough time last week, sliding about 1.25 cents US. Analysts point to recent soft data, including a worse than expected showing for December retail sales, concerns over the global growth outlook, a dovish tone on interest rates from the Bank of Canada and a potential delay in the Keystone XL pipeline decision.

The Canadian Press

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