Canadian dollar lower amid falling commodities, strong U.S. retail sales data

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed lower Wednesday amid lower commodity prices and positive economic news from Canada’s biggest trading partner.

The loonie was down 0.12 of a cent to 97.34 cents US.

U.S. retail sales gained 1.1 per cent in February, up from a 0.1 per cent rise in January. The showing was also much better than the 0.5 per cent rise that economists had expected.

The April crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped two cents to US$92.52 a barrel.

May copper edged down three cents to US$3.52 a pound while May gold bullion dropped $3.30 to US$1,588.40 an ounce.

The eurozone debt crisis also focused investor attention as Italy’s borrowing costs rose in the country’s first bond auction since ratings agency Fitch cut the government’s credit rating last week.

Italy sold €3.32 billion of two-year bonds at a yield of 2.48 per cent, up from 2.30 per cent in a mid-February sale. Demand weakened, with bids exceeding supply 1.28 times versus 1.37 in the February auction.