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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to near parity with the U.S. dollar on Friday ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to discuss the U.S. fiscal crisis.
Market sentiment was slightly more hopeful that the United States would be able to defuse the "fiscal cliff" crisis following a Wall Street Journal report that said White House officials were in advanced internal discussions that could indicate increased flexibility on reaching a deal with Republican leaders.
Equity markets have been mired in negative territory for much of the last two weeks with investors worried that if no deal is reached on the large, automatic budget cuts and tax hikes set to begin next year, the U.S. economy could slip into recession.
"There's very little in the way of macro risks, particularly locally in Canada ... that leaves us watching the Obama meeting on the fiscal cliff later on today," said Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy at Royal Bank of Canada in London.
Cole said any suggestion that the negotiating parties were having difficulty reaching a compromise would be negative for risk appetite and bullish for the U.S. dollar.
At 9:24 a.m. (1424 GMT), the Canadian currency traded at C$1.0006 to the U.S. dollar, or 99.94 U.S. cents, slightly firmer than its North American close on Thursday of C$1.0013, or 99.87 U.S. cents.
Canada's dollar was outperforming most major currencies, and touched a near two-week high against the Australian dollar.
Given a dearth of news on Friday, Cole said the Canadian dollar would likely be bound by the week's trading range of C$0.9985 to C$1.0040.
Data on Friday showed that foreigners increased their purchases of Canadian securities in September to C$13.92 billion from C$7.56 billion in the previous month.
"Reasonably encouraging on the face of it. But typically they're numbers the markets don't particularly trade off short term, because obviously they're not very timely," said Cole, noting the September figures do not shed light on what investors are doing now.
Prices for Canadian government debt were mixed, with the two-year bond shedding half a Canadian cent to yield 1.078 percent, and the benchmark 10-year bond gaining 8 Canadian cents to yield 1.713 percent.
Editing by Peter Galloway