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Loonie, oil, bullion all make gains

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar made slight headway Wednesday as oil and gold prices advanced and traders looked ahead to key economic data coming out at the end of the week.

The commodity sensitive loonie gained 0.06 of a cent to 100.44 cents US.

The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange erased early losses to advance 16 cents to US$96.80 a barrel amid data showing a smaller than expected climb in last week's crude inventories, along with a decline in distillate stockpiles.

March copper on the Nymex slipped three cents to US$3.74 a pound while April gold bullion gained $2.40 to US$1,675.90 an ounce.

It was a light day on the economic calendar.

The major reports of the week come out on Friday when Statistics Canada is expected to report that job creation slowed considerably in January. Economists believe that only about 4,000 jobs were created last month, down sharply from 31,200 the previous month.

Other data is expected to show a continued weakening in the Canadian housing sector.

"Housing starts in January could soften considerably, after being supported in the prior month by above-average seasonal temperatures," said a commentary from CIBC World Markets.

The consensus calls for housing starts to come in at an annualized rate of 195,000, down from 198,000 in December.

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