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Loonie little changed amid tumbling gold prices, mixed durable goods data

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed little changed Tuesday as traders considered a heavy slate of economic data and gold prices tumbled.

The loonie was down 0.01 of a cent to 92.07 cents US.

June bullion fell $26.20 to US$1,267.50 an ounce, its lowest close since Feb. 7, as risk concerns about Ukraine abated somewhat after elections over the weekend yielded a clear winner.

Further, gold failed to find lift from news of increased violence as fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatist rebels reportedly killed dozens in the eastern city of Donetsk.

Elsewhere on the commodity markets, an easing of Ukraine concerns also pushed July crude in New York down 24 cents to US$104.11 a barrel. And July copper was up a penny at US$3.18 a pound.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday that orders for durable manufactured goods rose 0.8 per cent after a 3.6 per cent gain in March and a 2.6 per cent rise in February. But the April strength came from a big jump in demand for defence goods, including airplanes. Excluding defence, orders would have fallen 0.8 per cent in April.

Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a good proxy for business investment plans, fell 1.2 per cent in April.

Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller house price index showed home prices rose 0.9 per cent in the U.S. in March.

And there was a slight uptick in American consumer confidence in May. The Conference Board’s measure of sentiment edged up marginally to 83 from a downwardly revised 81.7 in April.

As far as the Canadian currency is concerned, traders are particularly interested in seeing how the economy performed in the first three months of the year. Statistics Canada releases gross domestic product data 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.

That data is of particular concern, coming out days before the Bank of Canada releases its next interest rate announcement.

Also, traders will be looking for the latest U.S. data to see if the American 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.

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