09/26/2013 08:30 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST

Loonie flat amid U.S. political gridlock, possible government shutdown

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar closed unchanged Thursday as traders kept an eye on an acrimonious budget battle in Washington that could result in a government shutdown.

The loonie closed at 96.96 cents US as two financial deadlines for the U.S. government loom.

Congress needs to pass a funding bill to keep the federal government operating after Oct. 1, when its new fiscal year starts. And the country's borrowing limit needs to be raised before Oct. 17.

Markets are nervous as investors remember the summer of 2011 when a similar situation roiled markets at a time when Europe’s debt crisis was flaring, and prompted Standard & Poor’s to strip the U.S. of its triple A credit rating.

Commodity prices were mixed with the November contract on the New York mercantile Exchange up 37 cents to US$103.03 a barrel.

December copper gained three cents to US$3.31 a pound. But gold bullion prices lost early momentum and the December contract in New York fell $12.10 to US$1,324.10 an ounce.