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A Canadian dollar or loonie

Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian dollar closed lower Thursday amid rising oil prices and hopes for strong job creation data from the United States and Canada.

The loonie ended down 0.11 of a cent at 84.49 cents (U.S.).

The February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 14 cents to $48.79 a barrel, up for a second straight day in the wake of data showing an unexpected decline of 3.1 million barrels in U.S. crude oil inventories last week. Analysts had expected supplies to increase by 380,000 barrels.

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Oil prices have tumbled more than 50 per cent from the June, 2014, highs of about $107 a barrel, partly because of demand concerns. But a global glut of supply has particularly depressed prices.

Prices have skidded 34 per cent just since late November, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries opted to leave production levels unchanged and analysts have largely given up trying to call a price bottom.

Metal prices were mixed with March copper up a penny at $2.77 a pound while February gold faded $2.20 to $1,208.50 an ounce.

There was optimism ahead of the release Friday of the U.S. government's employment report for December after payroll firm ADP said Wednesday that the private sector created 241,000 jobs last month. Economists expect that a total of 240,000 jobs were created, down from 321,000 in November.

Canadian jobs data for December will also be released Friday and economists generally expect that the economy cranked out about 10,000 jobs last month.

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