The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadian dollar heads higher amid positive, but muted Chinese data

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TORONTO - The Canadian dollar rose Thursday amid positive if lacklustre economic data from China and a slight increase in oil prices.

The loonie gained 0.11 of a cent to 93.92 cents US.

Overnight, China reported that its June exports grew 7.2 per cent in dollar terms from a year earlier, accelerating slightly from May's seven per cent growth.

The advance was a small sign of improvement for the world's second-largest economy, but still left concerns over the country's uneven recovery as imports remained muted amid weak domestic demand.

"There's a bit of optimism with China's customs office expecting exports growth to accelerate in the third quarter. Imports could also pick up based on improving signs of manufacturing and services activity in the past two months,'' said Ryan Huang, a market strategist at IG, said in a commentary.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada says its new housing price index rose 0.1 per cent in May, largely due to higher new home prices in the Prairie region. The Calgary area, where prices rose 0.8 per cent, recorded the largest monthly price advance among the municipalities covered by the survey.

But the most anticipated economic data to come out this week will be the Canadian jobs report on Friday.

"As we continue to look for signs of economic improvement, the picture around unemployment is critical," said Tim Caulfield, co-lead manager at Franklin Bissett Canadian Equity Fund.

Statistics Canada is expected to report that about 24,000 jobs were created last month compared with 25,800 in May, with the jobless rate remaining unchanged at seven per cent.

The Canadian currency continues to look for hints that the fundamentals supporting it, including oil prices, will remain strong. Despite an uptick Thursday, oil has been falling steadily for more than a week as geopolitical concerns surrounding the world's oil supply have eased.

Political strife had shut ports and disrupted oil production in Libya. But recent agreements with local militias should see those ports reopening, while production began ramping up at a major Libyan oilfield earlier this week.

Still, the August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 64 cents to US$102.03 a barrel on Thursday, its first increase in two weeks.

August gold bullion was up $14.90 to US$1,339.20 an ounce, while September copper rose two cents to US$3.27 a pound.

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.

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