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Canadian dollar rises ahead of heavy slate of economic data; commodities mixed

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed higher Monday amid mixed commodity prices and as traders awaited the latest snapshot of economic growth.

The loonie was ahead 0.13 of a cent to 97.47 cents US .

Commodity prices were positive as the September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped 15 cents to US$104.55 a barrel, September copper was unchanged at US$3.11 a pound and August bullion rose $6.90 to US$1,328.40 an ounce.

Markets also looked to a raft of U.S. and Canadian economic data coming out this week.

Economists expect Statistics Canada to report Wednesday that gross domestic product grew by 0.3 per cent during May.

U.S. data out Monday showed that the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes dipped in June from a six-year high in May.

The U.S. National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales ticked down 0.4 per cent to 110.9 in June. The May reading was revised lower by a percentage point to 111.3, but it was still the highest since December 2006.

The slight decline suggests higher mortgage rates may be starting to slow sales. Still, signed contracts are 10.9 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

Traders also awaited second quarter U.S. GDP data being released and a scheduled announcement on interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the non-farm payrolls report for July on Friday.

Markets are particularly interested in any indication from the Fed on tapering its monthly US$85 billion of bond purchases, which have kept long term rates low and fuelled a rally on equity markets.

Expectations for the U.S. growth data are muted, largely due to the effects of the sequestration, a series of across the board U.S. government spending cuts that took effect on March 1.

The consensus calls for the economy to have grown by one per cent during the second quarter as sequestration concerns undercut business spending.

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department is expected to report the economy cranked out about 190,000 jobs during July.

Canadian labour data for July won't be released until August 9.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/the-canadian-press/130729/canadian-dollar-flat-ahead-heavy-slate-economic-data-commodi