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Canadian dollar higher as factory reports suggest improving U.S. economy

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled the 2012 lucky loonie coin in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, July 19, 2012. The coin will serve as a good luck charm for Canadian athletes competing at the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar was higher Monday as a series of manufacturing reports from around the world gave a somewhat optimistic glimpse of the economy.

The loonie ended the session up 0.05 of a cent to $1.0187 (U.S.), while the U.S. dollar fell against the euro.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of U.S. purchasing managers, says its index of factory activity rose to 51.5 in September, up from 49.6 in August. A reading above 50 signals growth and below indicates contraction.

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The Canadian currency and the euro are considered riskier than the greenback and tend to strengthen when investors are more optimistic about the economy.

Meanwhile, the latest reading of China's manufacturing sector showed weakness and there was also yet another month of contraction in the euro zone.

China's Purchasing Managers' Index for September came in at 49.8, marking a further contraction in activity in the region.

The euro zone's manufacturing sector experienced a better month, though the September PMI still contracted for the 14th consecutive month.

"The rebound in the ISM manufacturing index in September will boost hopes that some of the recent slowdown in economic growth was just a summer phenomenon," said senior U.S. economist Paul Dales at Capital Economics.

"But while GDP growth may accelerate a bit, a major improvement is not in the cards."

But a positive sign in the U.S. housing sector added an extra glimmer to the economic data. The Commerce Department reported that builders spent more money to construct homes in August.

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Statistics Canada gave a slightly different take on the domestic economy as part of a revision of Canada's economic performance from 1981 to the present. The agency said the national economy grew by 1.9 per cent in the second quarter of this year, one-tenth of a point more than previously reported.

In commodities, November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 29 cents to $92.48 a barrel.

The gold sector moved higher as December gold bullion increased $9.40 to $1,783.30 an ounce, while December copper was up 2.8 cents at $3.79 a pound.

Elsewhere, an independent audit of 14 Spanish banks was released after the market close on Friday and showed the lenders need an extra €60-billion ($77.6-billion) in capital. The figure is roughly as expected and well within the €100-billion in rescue loans that Madrid can get from fellow euro zone countries to help the banks.

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