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* C$ at C$1.0163 vs US$, or 98.40 U.S. cents * Holds near 4-1/2 year highs vs yen * Touches weakest level vs NZD since mid-2005 * Bond prices mostly lower across curve * FOMC minutes on Wed in focus By Solarina Ho TORONTO, April 9 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar was firmer against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as positive Chinese economic data helped bolster investor sentiment toward riskier assets, though moves were limited by a lack of major North American news and data. A solid start to U.S. corporate earnings season and a fall in Chinese inflation in March helped stocks around the world and lifted commodity prices, including copper and oil. "The pair going to just continue to trade sideways for the next few days," said Gareth Sylvester, director at Klarity FX in San Francisco. "Data out of Canada is very light. All housing-centric and none of the individual indicators will be a market mover." The Canadian dollar remained near four-and-a-half-year highs versus the yen following the Bank of Japan's aggressive stimulus policy last week. Mixed Canadian housing data did little to move the currency. Housing starts edged higher in March as rural starts surged, but urban starts declined, while separate data showed the value of Canadian building permits was weaker-than-expected. "We didn't really get that much of a strengthening, much of a reaction off the housing start data," said Mazen Issa, macro strategist at TD Securities. "More recently, in the absence of data and more significant events taking place abroad, the drivers tend to shift toward events abroad." The Canadian dollar finished Tuesday's North American session at C$1.0163 versus the U.S. dollar, or 98.40 U.S. cents, close to the 50-day moving average of C$1.0160, or 98.43 U.S. cents, and stronger than Monday's close of C$1.0173, or 98.30 U.S. cents. Its performance was otherwise weaker against other currencies, as Canada's dollar touched lowest level against the New Zealand dollar since mid-2005. Analysts expect the Canadian dollar to remain under pressure, however. "The market is, overall, of the opinion - comparing U.S. and Canadian economic fundamentals - the U.S. fundamentals are certainly outperforming that of its North American counterpart and that's what's giving the U.S. it's edge against the Canadian dollar," said Sylvester. On Wednesday, focus will turn to the United States, with the release of the FOMC minutes from Fed's March meeting. U.S. retail sales and University of Michigan preliminary sentiment data on Friday could also be market movers. Canadian government bond prices were mostly lower across the curve, with the two-year bond off half a Canadian cent with a yield of 0.995 percent and the benchmark 10-year bond off 4 Canadian cents to yield 1.769 percent.