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Loonie closes half a cent higher after big loss last week

Canadian dollar coins, or loonies, are displayed on a map of North America Thursday, January 9, 2014 in Montreal.

Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

The loonie gained 0.54 of a cent to end at 90.36 cents (U.S.).

Statistics Canada releases economic growth data for December and the fourth quarter on Friday. Economists expect the economy to have contracted by 0.3 per cent in December, largely because of crippling ice storms in Ontario and Quebec toward the end of the month. Growth for the quarter is reckoned to come in at 2.5 per cent at an annul rate.

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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 (Canadian) 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 from 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 2 cents to $3.27 (U.S.) a pound. The April crude contract erased early losses to add 62 cents to $102.82 a barrel.

Gold prices also headed higher with the April contract up $14.40 to $1,338 an ounce.

The dollar had a rough time last week, sliding about 1.25 cents. 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 another potential delay in the Keystone XL pipeline decision.

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