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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar finished higher against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, supported by firmer oil and metals prices but it underperformed other commodity-based currencies and backed off a 2-1/2-month high.
The Canadian dollar made gains against the U.S. dollar as the price of oil headed toward $79 a barrel and some key metals prices rose.
The higher-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollars rose to near two-week highs, and were up more than 1 percent during the session, before paring gains.
"Really the only interesting thing in currencies is New Zealand is up 1.5 percent and Australia is up almost 1 percent still. Besides that, it's been very very quiet and irregular trading patterns overall," said Camilla Sutton, currency strategist at Scotia Capital.
The Canadian dollar closed at C$1.0438 to the U.S. dollar, or 95.80 U.S. cents, up from C$1.0499 to the U.S. dollar, or 95.25 U.S. cents, at Thursday's close. Canadian markets were closed on Friday and Monday.
At one point on Tuesday, the Canadian dollar rose as high as 96.47 U.S. cents.
Merger and acquisition activity also helped boost the Canadian dollar. A C$679-million bid for metals explorer Corriente Resources Inc by China's CRCC-Tongguan Investment Co Ltd helped lifted the share prices of several Canadian miners.
The Canadian dollar was relatively steady after the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index showed U.S. home prices were flat in October and government data showed U.S. consumer confidence rose to a three-month high in December.
No Canadian economic data is on tap this week. Trading in this holiday-shortened week is expected to be thin, which could prompt the currency to make exaggerated and choppy moves.
Canadian bond prices fell but were off session lows on Tuesday. They were unable to keep up with gains made by their U.S. counterparts after an auction of $42 billion in five-year Treasury notes that went better than expected.
The five-year auction was the second of three scheduled for this week in which a total of $118 billion in new debt is planned to be sold.
The Canadian 10-year yield was 16.1 basis points below its U.S. counterpart, compared with 24.7 basis points the previous session.
Risk appetite favored assets such as equities, which have rallied as the end of the year approaches and as investors seem to have put worries about a major world financial collapse behind them.
But most major indexes were near break-even in thin trade by session's end on Tuesday in Europe and the United States, although Canada's main stock index posted a decline.
The two-year government bond fell 14 Canadian cents to C$99.59 to yield 1.468 percent, while the 10-year bond dropped 46 Canadian cents to C$100.72 to yield 3.659 percent.
Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway