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CANADA FX DEBT-C$ hits near 3-week high; global data, Fed risk help

(Adds strategist comment, updates prices to close) * Canadian dollar ends at $1.3308, or 75.14 U.S. cents * Bond prices higher across the yield curve * Loonie touches its strongest since Dec. 15 at C$1.3282 By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar hit a near three-week high against a weaker U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, helped by upbeat global economic data as investors tempered greenback bets around the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's December meeting.

The loonie, as Canada's currency is known, rose together with gains for other commodity-linked currencies after a batch of European data showed that French consumer confidence hit a nine-year high, business activity across the euro zone rose at the fastest pace in more than five years and inflation in the euro zone is its highest in over three years.

This followed similarly upbeat reports this week on U.S., British, Chinese and Japanese business activity.

The loonie likely also benefited as investors pared bets on further appreciation in the greenback - which hit a 14-year peak in the prior session - going into the Fed minutes and saw little reason to retrace that move afterward.

U.S. short-term interest rate futures rose slightly after the release of the minutes but not enough to suggest altered expectations for the central bank's rate hike path this year.

"You could have, and I think this is a strong probability outcome, multiple investors that were looking at the FOMC minutes (due out) at 2 p.m. today and saying to themselves the potential event risk is significant enough that I need to rebalance ahead of that," said Brad Schruder, director of foreign exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets.

The Canadian dollar ended the day trading at C$1.3308 to the greenback, or 75.14 U.S. cents, much stronger than Tuesday's close of C$1.3433, or 74.44 U.S. cents.

The currency's weakest level of the session was C$1.3456, while it touched its strongest since Dec. 15 at C$1.3282.

The Australian dollar rose 0.8 percent, while the New Zealand dollar was up 0.8 percent. Canada's gain was almost 1 percent.

Commodity-linked currencies, such as the Canadian dollar, the Australian and New Zealand dollars, tend to benefit more than many others from an upswing in growth.

Canadian government bond prices were higher across the yield curve, with the two-year up 2 Canadian cents to yield 0.755 percent and the 10-year rising 26 Canadian cents to yield 1.711 percent.

Canada's trade report for November and employment report for December are due on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)