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Canadian dollar higher, American markets closed for Memorial Day holiday

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TORONTO - The Canadian dollar was slightly higher Monday in a relatively quiet session with U.S. financial markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

The loonie moved ahead 0.08 of a cent to 92.08 cents US.

Although it was quiet on the Canadian economic front, there are major items coming up later in the week.

Statistics Canada releases the latest gross domestic product reading for March and the first quarter on Friday. Economists are looking for an annualized rise of 1.7 per cent for the quarter and 0.1 per cent for the month.

And traders will be looking to see if the U.S. economy actually contracted in the first quarter when the first revision to U.S. gross domestic product data is released Thursday. The initial report showed growth coming in at a paltry 0.1 per cent as severe winter weather impacted the economy, but markets are braced for a worse reading.

Commodity markets were closed in New York but crude oil moved lower in electronic trading with the July contract down 17 cents to US$104.18 a barrel late in the afternoon. Metals were higher with July copper ahead two cents to US$3.19 a pound while June gold bullion gained 90 cents to US$1,292.6 an ounce.

Overseas, Ukraine’s new president-elect promised to negotiate an end to a pro-Russia insurgency in the east and said he was willing to begin talks with Moscow. The offer from 48-year-old chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko raised hopes that his election will indeed ease the protracted crisis that has fuelled tensions unseen since the end of the Cold War.

Also, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the bank could engage in large-scale bond purchases to combat the spiral of low inflation if need be.

Draghi’s remarks at a conference in Sintra, Portugal, held out the prospect for action to stimulate the weak recovery at the ECB’s next governing council meeting June 5.

The meeting will take place against the background of a slow recovery in the 18 countries that share the euro currency and concern that Europe may fall into outright deflation, or a crippling downward price spiral.

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