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Loonie lower, markets risk-averse amid latest round of sanctions against Russia

Canadian dollar coins, or Loonies, are displayed on a map of North America January 9, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar was slightly lower Thursday with traders generally risk averse in the wake of the latest round of sanctions levied against Russia by the United States.

The currency was down 0.01 of a cent to 93.05 cents US.

President Barack Obama announced broader sanctions against Russia, targeting two major energy firms, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight weapons firms and four individuals. The increased U.S. economic pressure is designed to end the insurgency in eastern Ukraine that is widely believed to be backed by the Kremlin.

“The escalated sanctions against Russia targets a number of regional companies and the United States has confirmed that it will aim to prevent them from accessing all but short-term capital markets,” observed Mark Chandler, Head of Canadian FIC Strategy at RBC Dominion Securities.

Also, the European Union has said it will halt lending for public infrastructure projects in Russia by the European Investment Bank.

“In concert, the lack of any meaningful data coupled with the sanctions imposed overnight has led to an old-fashioned ‘risk off’ day, with equity prices lower and bond prices higher,” added Chandler.

Oil prices shot up for a second day with the August contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up $1.48 to US$102.68 a barrel. Prices ran ahead $1.24 Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much larger than expected drawdown of U.S. inventories last week.

Copper prices continued to decline with the September contract in New York down a cent to US$3.20 a pound. August bullion edged up $3.30 to US$1,303.10 an ounce.