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Loonie ends slightly lower amid mixed commodity prices

Canadian dollars.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed slightly lower Monday amid a dearth of market-moving data and mixed commodity prices.

The loonie ended down 0.01 a cent to 90.79 cents (U.S.).

It's a light week for economic data.

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The primary economic news for the week comes out Wednesday when Statistics Canada is expected to report that retail sales in February rose 0.4 per cent from January, when sales posted a big 1.3 per cent bounce from the poor performance registered in December because of severe ice storms.

Economists expect a good chunk of the gain will be driven by higher gasoline prices.

The big number for the U.S. is March durable goods data coming out on Thursday. Economists looked for goods orders to have risen by 1.9 per cent following a 2.2 per cent gain in February. Excluding the volatile transportation segment, orders are expected to have risen by 0.5 per cent.

On the commodity markets, May crude in New York gained 7 cents to $104.37 a barrel.

May copper was unchanged at $3.04 a pound while June gold bullion fell $5.40 to $1,288.50 an ounce.

The loonie declined 0.28 of a cent last week as the Bank of Canada said that it was leaving its key rate at 1 per cent, where it's been since September, 2010. The bank also lowered its forecast for first-quarter growth this year to 1.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent, but attributed the downgrade mostly to the temporary impacts of a unusually severe winter.

At the same time, analysts said that higher-than-expected inflation data that came out later in the week likely shifted expectations back toward a firmly neutral bias by the Bank of Canada.

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