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Loonie flat as employment report adds to positivity over U.S. economy

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar was barely changed Wednesday after further positive data emerged about the U.S. economy.

The loonie gained 0.03 of a cent at 90.62 cents US as attention focused mainly on an employment survey from ADP.

The payroll processer said that U.S. companies hired at a faster clip in March, adding an estimated 191,000 jobs in March.

The report was another positive sign for the jobs market ahead of Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls figures and Statistics Canada's labour force survey for March.

Positive sentiment about the U.S. economy has been gaining traction this week after an improvement in the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for March and a slight uptick in U.S. construction data on Tuesday.

Markets have been rising since U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen indicated on Monday in a speech that the U.S. central bank will keep interest rates low. That countered remarks she made two weeks before that were seen as a signal the Fed might raise short-term rates by mid-2015 — earlier than generally expected.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz suggested last week that a cut to the central bank's short-term rates could not be ruled out despite a recent weakening of the loonie against the U.S. currency.

"This relative dovishness reinforces our view that the Canadian dollar likely has further to fall in the near-term, additionally supported by a weaker commodity price outlook," wrote TD Bank chief economist Craig Alexander in a note on Wednesday.

In commodities, crude continued to trade below US$100 per barrel. Oil for May delivery settled at US$99.62, down 12 cents.

The June gold contract gained $10.80 to close at $1,290.80 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Copper prices returned to more normal levels after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile — a major producer of the metal — sent prices soaring to their highest levels since early March. The May copper contract was up 1.1 cents at US$3.05 a pound.

The Canadian Press

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