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Loonie ends slightly higher as traders await jobs data

Canadian dollars.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed slightly higher Wednesday as traders looked ahead to key economic data coming out at the end of the week.The commodity-sensitive loonie ticked up 0.07 of a cent to 100.45 cents (U.S.).

The March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange had erased early losses amid data showing a smaller-than-expected climb in last week's crude inventories, along with a decline in distillate stockpiles. But by the end of the session, crude closed down 2 cents to $96.62.

March copper on the Nymex slipped 3 cents to $3.74 a pound while April gold bullion gained $5.30 to $1,678.80 an ounce.

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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 are 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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