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* C$ at $1.0554 to US$, or 94.75 U.S. cents * Shrinking trade deficit ignored as jobs data looms By Cameron French TORONTO, July 3 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar eased against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, extending its recent decline as market players avoided big bets ahead of the U.S. July 4 holiday and key jobs data due at the end of the week. Data on Wednesday showing a smaller than expected Canadian trade deficit in May due to falling imports, was largely ignored, traders said. As well, any positive impact versus the U.S. dollar was likely offset by figures that showed a fall in U.S. weekly jobless claims. "The market obviously has got two things on its mind: July 4 tomorrow and jobless data on Friday, so I expect to see a little bit of consolidation today," said Steve Butler, director of foreign exchange trading at Scotiabank. At 9:36 a.m. (1336 GMT), the Canadian dollar was at C$1.0554 to the greenback, or 94.75 U.S. cents, down from C$1.0549, or 94.80 U.S. cents, at Tuesday's North American close. However, the loonie, as Canada's currency is colloquially known, was higher than Tuesday's intraday low of C$1.0578, or C$94.53 U.S. cents, which was a 21-month low. The currency has shed value in recent weeks as the U.S. Federal Reserve signals its intention to scale back the asset purchases that have supported equity and bond markets. Meanwhile, uneven Canadian economic data has investors continuing to wonder how soon the Bank of Canada will act on its long-held threat to raise interest rates. Friday's employment numbers are expected show Canada lost some 2,500 jobs in June after notching oversized gains the previous month, while the much larger U.S. economy is seen adding 165,000 jobs. Prices for Canadian government debt were up across the curve. The two-year bond was up 3 Canadian cents to yield 1.184 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond rose 5 Canadian cents to yield 2.401 percent.