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Loonie closes slightly higher as inflation rate increases

Canadian dollars fall through the air in a photo illustration in Vancouver, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed higher Friday as commodities advanced and traders took in data that showed rising inflation during November and higher-than-expected third-quarter U.S. economic growth.

The loonie gained 0.15 of a cent to end at 93.91 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada said the consumer price index rose 0.2 per cent in November amid higher gasoline prices, following a 0.1 per cent decline in October.

The agency said the CPI rose 0.9 per cent in the 12 months to November, following a 0.7 per cent increase in October. It added that November marked the seventh time in the past 13 months in which the CPI increased less than 1 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department said the economy grew at a solid 4.1 per cent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since late 2011 and significantly higher than previously believed. Much of the upward revision came from stronger consumer spending.

The final look at growth in the summer was up from a previous estimate of 3.6 per cent.

On the commodity markets, February crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 28 cents to $99.32 a barrel.

Gold prices headed higher after plunging more than $40 on Thursday to three-year lows. The February contract on the Nymex was up $10.10 to $1,203.70 an ounce.

Gold prices have fallen sharply this week after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it will start to end its latest asset purchase program.

Earlier this week, the Fed decided it was going to scale back $10-billion of its monthly purchases of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, starting in January. It also said it "will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings."

The Fed also emphasized that its main interest rate would remain low until U.S. unemployment falls below 6.5 per cent. It's now 7 per cent.

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Quantitative easing had supported gold prices because of inflationary fears. But inflation is tame in many countries and data out earlier this week showed the consumer price index rising at an annual rate of only 1.2 per cent, significantly below the Fed's inflation target of 2 per cent.

Gold prices are down 29 per cent so far this year.

March copper rose a cent to $3.31 a pound.

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