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The loonie surpassed parity with the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. ((Mark Blinch/Reuters))

The Canadian dollar surpassed parity with the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, the first time it had accomplished the feat in more than a month.

Early in the morning, the loonie surged to hit $1 US, the first time the Canadian currency had done so since Nov. 10. By noon ET, it was changing hands just above par after earlier being as high as 100.13 cents US, up 0.94 of a cent.

The strong loonie will be welcome news for Canadian cross-border shoppers who've headed south to take advantage of holiday sales at U.S. retailers.

On Monday, the Chinese government hiked interest rates in an attempt to get inflation under control. That should have sent investors flocking to havens like the U.S. dollar, but so far that hasn't happened. The greenback dollar was lower against most other major currencies Tuesday.

Weak data on the U.S. housing market this week worked to drag the U.S. dollar lower. "Cheap housing prices … make  investors hesitate to buy the dollar, especially when the market thins at the end of the year," Tokyo-based currency analyst Toshiya Yamauchi told Bloomberg.

The Toronto Stock Exchange was closed Tuesday and is set to reopen Wednesday.

The New York Stock Exchange was open, however, and the Dow Jones industrial average was down one point to 11,554, while the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged at 1,257. The tech-laden Nasdaq was down five points to 2,662 at midday.

Oil for February delivery was up 26 cents to $91.26 US a barrel in very light trading.