Canadian loonie up following strong commodity prices, fewer U.S. jobless claims

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed higher Thursday as gold and copper prices strengthened for a second day amid strong employment data from the U.S.

The loonie was ahead 0.46 of a cent to 97.96 cents US.

The U.S. Labour Department reported that unemployment claims in the U.S. dipped by 16,000 last week from a revised 355,000 the previous week to 339,000. The results were better than the 350,000 that analysts had been predicting and the lowest level in six weeks.

The June bullion contract rose $38.30 to US$1,462 an ounce after plunging last week to US$1,361 an ounce, its lowest level in more than two years.

It is now halfway back to levels it was before the price of gold began dropping in the second week of April.

The June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $2.21 to US$93.64 a barrel after advancing more than $2 on Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much weaker than forecast rise in U.S. inventories last week.

May copper gained eight cents to US$3.24 a pound after running up six cents Wednesday after Goldman Sachs said it expects copper prices to rebound in the next three months due to Chinese growth in the second half of the year.

Copper and oil have also risen on hopes that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates next Thursday to stimulate the European economy.