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A Canadian dollar.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The Canadian dollar closed lower Friday as retail sales data for December widely missed expectations.

The loonie lost 0.3 of a U.S. cent to end at 79.71 cents (U.S.) after Statistics Canada reported that retail sales fell 2 per cent to $42.1-billion, the largest one-month decline since April, 2010. Economists had generally expected a dip of 0.4 per cent.

Declines were led by a 7.4 per cent slide in sales at gasoline stations, reflecting sharply lower fuel prices.

Performance was also affected by a 1 per cent drop in sales at new car dealers.

The biggest increase came from food and beverage stores, up 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, Greece and its euro zone partners came to an agreement to extend by four months the country's bailout loans that have kept the country afloat. An official close to discussions by euro zone finance ministers said that, as part of the agreement, Greece could "present a first list of reform measures by Monday" for the country's debt inspectors to assess.

European creditors have insisted that any extension to loans should be accompanied by a commitment to some budget measures and reforms.

Greece's current bailout program is due to expire Feb. 28. In the short term, if no solution were found, Greece could be left to handle its debts alone starting next month.

The sticking point has been that the proposal from Greece's new government did not promise to continue all of the budget cuts and reforms that the euro zone has demanded as a condition for past bailout payments.

Oil prices continued to decline in the wake of the latest data showing sharp rises in American inventory levels. The April contract in New York was down $1.02 to $50.81 (U.S.).

Metals were lower with March copper off 3 cents to $2.59 a pound while April gold faded $2.70 to $1,204.90 an ounce.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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