Canadian dollar lower despite strong Canadian, Chinese data, higher metal prices

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TORONTO - The Canadian dollar was lower Friday as the commodity-sensitive currency failed to benefit from solid Canadian and Chinese economic data.

The loonie was down 0.43 of a cent to 101.02 cents US.

Statistics Canada says that manufacturing sales increased by 1.7 per cent in November to $49.9 billion. It was the highest level since May 2012 and better than the 1.1 per cent rise that economists had expected.

The agency said that the largest gains were in the transportation equipment, primary metal and chemical industries.

Other data showed that growth in China rose to 7.9 per cent in the three months ending in December, up from the previous quarter’s 7.4 per cent.

For the year, the world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.8 per cent, which was China’s weakest annual performance since the 1990s.

The slowdown was due largely to government controls imposed to cool a real estate boom and surging inflation fuelled by Beijing’s massive stimulus in response to the 2008 crisis. But it worsened as demand for Chinese exports dropped unexpectedly, raising the risk of job losses and unrest.

However, analysts say China could suffer a setback if exports weaken or the government fails to maintain investment spending that is propping up a recovery.

Copper prices rose in the wake of the Chinese data. China is the world's biggest consumer of the metal which is viewed as an economic barometer as it is used in so many applications.

The March contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up two cents to US$3.68 a pound.

Oil prices were slightly lower after jumping about $2 over the past two sessions after inventory data showed a sharp decrease in stocks last week. Prices also found support this week after Islamic militants seized an Algerian natural gas facility.

The February crude contract on the Nymex declined nine cents to US$95.40 a barrel.

February bullion was off $1.60 to US$1,689.20 an ounce.

Traders also looked ahead to the Bank of Canada's announcement on interest rates on Wednesday for any indications on when the central bank may start raising rates.

The central bank also releases its Monetary Policy Report on Wednesday.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, New York Mercantile Exchange, Nymex Bank of Canada

Geographic location: China, TORONTO, US

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