- The Australian dollar advanced against its U.S. counterpart on Friday to re-approach a one-month high hit earlier in the week, as traders reassessed their expectations for how quickly the Federal Reserve will roll back its stimulus program following the release of disappointing U.S. economic data.

AUD/USD rose to 0.9066 on Wednesday, the pair’s highest since January 13, before subsequently consolidating at 0.9035 by close of trade on Friday, up 0.61% for the day and 0.84% higher for the week.

The pair is likely to find support at 0.8926, the low from February 13 and resistance at 0.9066, the high from February 12.

The dollar slid after data showed that U.S. industrial production fell 0.3% from a month earlier in January, compared to expectations for a 0.3% gain.

This disappointing factory report came one day after the Commerce Department said that retail sales fell 0.4% in January, confounding expectations for a 0.3% increase.

The soft data fuelled concerns that the economic recovery has lost momentum since the end of last year as inclement winter weather weighed on growth.

The greenback came under additional pressure after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reassured that U.S. monetary policy will remain accommodative.

In her first Congressional testimony since her appointment as Fed Chair, Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the central bank would continue to gradually reduce the pace of its asset purchase program.

She also reiterated that the Fed plans to hold interest rates at zero “well past” the time the jobless rate falls below 6.5%.

Meanwhile, in Australia, official data on Thursday showed that the nation’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.0% in January from 5.8% in the previous month, compared to expectations for an unchanged reading.

The economy shed 3,700 jobs last month, confounding expectations for jobs growth of 15,000.

The Aussie jumped to a one-month high against the greenback on Wednesday after robust Chinese trade data allayed fears over a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

Chinese exports rose 10.6% in January from a year earlier, outstripping expectations for 2% gain, while imports jumped 10% and the trade surplus widened.

The Asian nation is Australia''s biggest export partner.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that speculators reduced their bearish bets on the Australian dollar in the week ending February 11.

Net shorts totaled 47,403 contracts, down 14.6% from the previous week’s total of 55,523 net shorts.

In the week ahead, market players will continue to pay close attention to U.S. economic data releases for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future course of monetary policy.

Meanwhile, minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s most recent policy-setting meeting will also be in focus.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, February 17

Australia is to publish data on new vehicle sales.

Markets in the U.S. are to remain closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

Tuesday, February 18

The Reserve Bank of Australia is to publish the minutes of its latest policy meeting, which contain valuable insights into economic conditions from the bank’s perspective.

The U.S. is to release data on manufacturing activity in the Empire State.

Wednesday, February 19

Australia is to publish data on the wage price index, as well as a private sector report on an index of leading economic indicators.

The U.S. is to publish reports on building permits, housing starts and producer price inflation.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is to publish the minutes of its most recent policy setting meeting.

Thursday, February 20

China is to release the preliminary reading of the HSBC manufacturing index.

The U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on consumer price inflation. The nation is also to release data on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.

Friday, February 21

The U.S. is to round up the week with private sector data on existing homes sales.

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