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Loonie gives up early gains to end slightly higher

Canadian dollars.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed with a gain Friday, but was off the three-week high it reached earlier in the session, as the latest Canadian housing data showed signs of a cool-down.The loonie finished the final session of the week up 0.29 of a cent at 98.11 cents (U.S.), backing away from the high of 98.22.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported that home and condo resales fell 2.1 per cent in February from the previous month, when they logged a small gain.

On a year-over-year basis, last month's activity was down 15.8 per cent.

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Meanwhile in the United States, a spike in gasoline prices was cited as the major reason for an increase in consumer prices last month. The Labour Department says consumer prices increased a seasonally adjusted 0.7 per cent in February from January, the biggest rise since June, 2009. Three-fourths of the increase reflected a 9.1 per cent surge in gas prices.

And Statistics Canada said the amount of household debt to disposable income held steady at almost 165 per cent in the last three months of 2012, while household net worth rose 1.4 per cent.

Over all, the national net worth – the sum of the net worth of persons and unincorporated business as well as corporate and government sectors – increased to $6.9-trillion (Canadian) in the fourth quarter, up 1 per cent from the third quarter of 2012.

In commodities, the April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange added 42 cents to $93.45 (U.S.) a barrel, while the TSX energy sector gained 1.1 per cent.

Gold stocks were up 0.3 per cent as April bullion rose $3.70 to $1,594.40 an ounce. May copper lost 1.5 cents to $3.52 to pound.

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