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Loonie ends lower amid strong U.S. retail sales data

Canadian dollars.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed lower Wednesday amid lower commodity prices and positive economic news from Canada's biggest trading partner.The loonie was down 0.12 of a cent to 97.34 cents (U.S.).

U.S. retail sales gained 1.1 per cent in February, up from a 0.1 per cent rise in January. The showing was also much better than the 0.5 per cent rise that economists had expected.

The April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped 2 cents to $92.52 a barrel.

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May copper edged down 3 cents to $3.52 a pound while May gold bullion dropped $3.30 to $1,588.40 an ounce.

The euro zone debt crisis also focused investor attention as Italy's borrowing costs rose in the country's first bond auction since ratings agency Fitch cut the government's credit rating last week.

Italy sold €3.32-billion ($4.4-billion Canadian) of two-year bonds at a yield of 2.48 per cent, up from 2.30 per cent in a mid-February sale. Demand weakened, with bids exceeding supply 1.28 times versus 1.37 in the February auction.

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