Investing.com

Investing.com - The yen held slightly stronger against the dollar on Wednesday in early Asian trading and the Australian dollar flat ahead of key data releases in both countries.



USD/JPY traded at 102.62, down 0.02%, while AUD/USD held at 0.9267, down 0.01%.



Japan''s March industrial output data are due at 0850 Tokyo (2350 GMT) with a forecast of a gain of 0.5% month-on-month, which would be the first rise in two months.



Then at 1130 in Sydney (0130 GMT), Australia''s March total private sector credit is expected to show an increase of 0.4%.



Later in Japan, March housing starts are due at 1400 (0500 GMT) followed by the Bank of Japan''s semi-annual Outlook Report at 1500 (0600 GMT).



Housing starts are forecast at a decline of 2.9%, which would be the first fall in 19 months. In the BOJ''s Outlook Report, the board is unlikely to make any major change to its medium-term outlook presented in January, including its median forecast for core CPI at up 1.9% in fiscal 2015.



Overnight, the dollar traded largely higher against most major currencies on after investors shrugged off a soft consumer confidence report and took up positions anticipating the Federal Reserve will make further cuts to its stimulus program this week.



The Conference Board, a market research group, said its consumer confidence index declined to 82.3 in April from a 83.9 in March, whose figure was revised up from a previously reported 82.3.



Analysts had expected the index to inch down to 83.0 in April.



The Present Situation Index decreased to 78.3 from 82.5, while the Expectations Index was virtually unchanged at 84.9 versus 84.8 in March.



“Consumer confidence declined slightly in April, as consumers assessed current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in March,” Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.



“However, their expectations regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market held steady. Thus, while sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months.”



The dollar largely ignored the data as the report was not seen as weak enough to indicate the economy was softening to the point that the Federal Reserve will slow up the pace at which it tapers its monthly bond-buying program.



Fed bond purchases, currently set at $55 billion a month, weaken the dollar by suppressing long-term borrowing costs, and expectations for further Fed tapering tends to strengthen the greenback.



The US Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was flat at 79.89.



Aside from the Fed''s announcement on monetary policy, markets on Wednesday will track preliminary data on first quarter GDP, as well as the ADP report on private-sector job creation, which leads the government’s nonfarm payrolls report by two days. The U.S. is also to release data on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region.



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