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The Canadian dollar.

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The Canadian dollar closed higher Thursday amid rising commodity prices and a mixed bag of economic data.

The loonie rose 0.24 of a cent to $1.0135 (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported manufacturing shipments dropped 0.4 per cent in June.

"Some of that was offset by an upward revision to the prior month, to flat from (a drop of) 0.4 per cent originally reported," observed CIBC World Markets chief economist Avery Shenfeld.

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"That left the combined two-month change not far from consensus, but well below what we were looking for."

Economists had expected a 0.3-per-cent gain in shipments.

In the United States, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to 366,000. The less volatile four-week average fell by 5,500 to 363,750. That was the lowest level since late March.

U.S. housing starts for July came in weaker than expected at an annualized rate of 746,000, down 1.1 per cent from the previous month.

Oil prices added to Wednesday's gain of almost $1, racked up in the wake of data showing a much bigger than anticipated draw-down of American crude inventories last week. The September contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.27 to $95.60 a barrel.

September copper added 3.30 cents to $3.3825 a pound while December bullion improved by $12.60 to $1,619.20 an ounce.

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