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Loonie ends higher as Cyprus nears a solution

Canadian dollar

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar ended slightly higher Friday as Cypriot lawmakers inched toward a plan they hope will qualify the country for a bailout package.The Canadian dollar rose 0.09 of a cent to end at 97.72 cents (U.S.).

The small Mediterranean island has until Monday to etch out a plan to raise €5.8-billion ($7.7-billion Canadian) to qualify for €10-billion in rescue loans from other euro zone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Late Friday, Cyprus lawmakers approved key bills aimed at securing a broader bailout package.

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Cyprus's President Nicos Anastasiades will travel to Brussels on Saturday to present the plan to the country's prospective creditors, its fellow euro zone countries and the IMF, though he has no reassurance that they will accept it.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he plans to eliminate Canada's deficit before 2015 in the federal budget Thursday.

He also unveiled tighter rules for financial institutions that will restrict their ability to insure portfolios of conventional mortgages, those with over 20 per cent householder equity, to only those used in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. securitization programs.

In commodities, the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.26 to settle at $93.71 (U.S.) a barrel.

Gold stocks were lower as April bullion fell $7.70 to end at $1,606.10 an ounce. The May copper contract gained 3.1 cents to $3.466 a pound.

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