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Ryan Remiorz

The Canadian dollar closed higher Thursday, even as crude oil prices retreated after surging this past week amid growing violence in Libya, which sparked supply concerns.

The currency closed up 0.56 of a cent at 101.71 cents (U.S.).

The April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed early gains and declined 82 cents to $97.28 a barrel. Prices had soared as much as 15 per cent since last Friday, as chaos in Libya interrupted oil supplies while investors also worried that anti-government protests could spread to other big Mideast producers.

Libya produces about 1.6 million barrels of crude a day and has the biggest oil reserves in Africa.

Prices hit $103.41 at one point Thursday but starting shedding gains after a Saudi Arabian oil official said that his country and other member states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are willing and able to replace any lost Libyan oil, including crude of the same quality.

Oil also moved rapidly off session highs amid rumours of a change at the top in Libya.

"Rumours of regime change in Libya cut oil's rally off at the knees," said a commentary from RBC Dominion Securities.

Bullion moved up for an eighth session as buyers look for a safe haven. The April gold contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.80 to $1,415.80 an ounce.

Copper prices also advanced, following a string of losses, with the March contract in New York 5 cents higher at $4.33 a pound.