CANADA FX DEBT-C$ helped by housing, brushes off weak China data

* C$ at C$1.0182 vs US$, or 98.21 U.S. cents

* Domestic housing data beats expectations

* Weak China data no hindrance to C$, but hurts Aussie, Kiwi

TORONTO, June 10 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar gained against the U.S. dollar on Monday after stronger-than-expected housing data, as the commodity-linked currency brushed off worries about a slowdown in China.

The May data for Canadian housing showed more than 200,000 housing starts at an annual rate, beating both last month’s figure and a Reuters poll of expectations by more than 20,000.

“The housing starts today was a pleasant surprise, 200 was a nice beat on top of what the market consensus had been,” said Don Mikolich, an executive director of foreign exchange sales at

CIBC World Markets.

At 9:10 a.m. (1310 GMT) the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.0182 to the greenback, or 98.21 U.S. cents, compared with C$1.0198, or 98.06 U.S. cents, at Friday’s North American close.

The move stronger came despite gold and oil prices slipping as data over the weekend showed that China’s economy is losing momentum, with May exports and domestic activity struggling to pick up.

That data out of China hit the Australian and New Zealand dollars hard, with the Aussie falling to its versus the Canadian since September 2010.

The loonie, as Canada’s currency is colloquially known, hit its strongest level against the greenback since mid-May on Friday after data showed the Canadian economy added a robust 95,000 jobs last month.

Monday’s housing data lent weight to the thesis of a recovering Canadian economy, but Mikolich warned that more proof would be required if gains were to extend further.

“We may be punching a little bit above our weight right now on the back of that economic news but we’ll need some positive follow-through to build the case that Canada is still recovering nicely,” he said.

Prices for Canadian government debt were mostly lower across the maturity curve, with the two-year bond off 4 Canadian cents to yield 1.153 percent, and the benchmark 10-year bond down 1 Canadian cent to yield 2.151 percent.