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Metal prices firm up

The Canadian dollar was higher Wednesday amid mixed commodity prices and optimism that there is more willingness on the part of China's new leadership to support the economy.

The currency rose by 0.07 of a cent to 100.75 cents US.

The catalyst to the optimism across the markets was a Chinese government pledge to maintain policies intended to strengthen the economy and an expression of willingness to "fine tune" them and make them more effective.

There were also reports that the government lifted investment limits for insurance companies and that the new Chinese leadership will remain focused on urbanization, which could ramp up infrastructure spending.

China has been a major prop for a global economy still trying to recover from the financial collapse and subsequent recessions of 2008. Signs of stimulus are welcome because the Chinese government had to take steps to weaken the economy over the last couple of years to deal with higher than acceptable inflation.

Oil prices lost early momentum as data showed a much higher than expected rise in U.S. gasoline inventories last week and the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 59 cents to US$87.91 a barrel.

March copper added two cents to US$3.68 a pound. China is the world's biggest consumer of the metal, viewed as an economic bellwether because it is used in so many industries.

The February gold contract faded $5.40 to US$1,690.40 an ounce.

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