* Canadian dollar rises as high as 83.24 U.S. cents
* Improved risk appetite helps fuel rally
* Bond prices lower across curve
TORONTO, April 15 (Reuters) - Canada's currency shot to its highest level in 13 weeks versus the U.S. dollar on Wednesday afternoon as improved sentiment lifted equities from an earlier low and encouraged investors to seek out riskier assets.
The Canadian dollar rose as high as C$1.2013 to the U.S. dollar, or 83.24 U.S. cents, which marked its strongest level since Jan. 12. That was up from C$1.2140 to the U.S. dollar, or 82.37 U.S. cents, at the end of Tuesday's North American session.
That was also comfortably above the C$1.3066 to the U.S. dollar, or 76.53 U.S. cents, that the Canadian dollar fell to on March 9, which marked its lowest level since Sept 2004.
"The speed of the economic downturn is starting to slow down a little and moderate a little bit and people are taking heart from that and bidding up riskier assets," said George Davis, chief technical strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
"We are starting to (see) some instances where we're getting topside surprises in the data and that is sort of leading people to the conclusion that we are in an environment where things are 'less bad'."
The S&P/TSX composite indexwas down 0.26 percent after falling more than 1 percent earlier in the session. U.S. equities were generally stronger.
Canadian bond prices, with no domestic economic news to influence a move, were pinned lower across the curve alongside the bigger U.S. Treasury market, which fell as many investors shed safe-haven bond holdings in favour of equities. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)
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