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Loonie ends slightly lower on tame inflation data

Canadian dollars


The Canadian dollar closed little changed Friday amid rising commodity prices and data showing that inflation pressures remain weak.The loonie was off 0.03 of a cent to 97.44 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index rose 1 per cent in March from a year earlier, down from a 1.2 per cent rise in February.

Economists had expected a reading of 1.1 per cent.

The slower increase in the CPI was mainly the result of gasoline prices, which fell 0.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in March, after rising 3.9 per cent in February.

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The soft inflation data further cemented the view that rate hikes by the Bank of Canada are a long ways off.

"Today's figures are consistent with the Bank of Canada's updated view of more restrained inflationary pressures ahead, confirming the central bank's scope to keep policy stimulative for the foreseeable future," said CIBC World Markets economist Emanuella Enenajor.

Commodity prices were mixed Friday at the end of a punishing week when prices for oil and metals tumbled amid new worries about the pace of the global economic recovery.

Markets got off to a weak start Monday amid data showing growth in China coming in lower than expected. Losses picked up midweek after the International Monetary Fund downgraded its estimates for global growth.

Additionally, worries that the worst-hit countries of the euro zone debt crisis might use their gold reserves to deal with their problems helped sent bullion prices to their lowest levels in more than two years.

June bullion gained $3.10 to $1,395.60 an ounce. But copper remained stuck at 18-month lows, with the May contract down 6 cents at $3.15 a pound.

The May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 28 cents to $88.01 a barrel.

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