Investing.com - The yen gained further against the dollar in Asia on Monday after a retail sales gain in March in Japan matched expectations based on a rush to buy goods ahead of a sales tax hike that took effect April 1.
USD/JPY traded at 102.11, down 0.08%, , while AUD/USD gained to 0.9280, up 0.12%, from a slow early start.
The US Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against six currencies, traded at 79.90, up 0.07%.
Japan''s March retail sales rose 11% year-on-year, in line with expectations and the eighth straight annual rise. Sales have been boosted by buying ahead of an increase in the sales tax to 8% from 5% , effective April 1.
Demand for durable goods is expected to slow in April, but anecdotal evidence gleaned by the government and central bank has pointed to the possibility of only a slight dip.
This is also a short week for the region with Japan due to observe a holiday on Tuesday while most other parts of Asia will be closed on Thursday for Labour Day.
In the past week, the dollar ended ower against the safe haven yen and Swiss franc on Friday as fresh tensions over hostilities in eastern Ukraine underpinned safe haven demand.
Concerns over the conflict between Russian and Ukraine escalated on Friday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington was ready to step up sanctions on Russia. The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.
The yen held gains despite data on Friday showing that Japanese inflation remained unchanged for a third successive month in April. The weak data fuelled expectations that the Bank of Japan will implement a fresh round of monetary stimulus this year, which would weigh on the yen.
The euro’s gains were held in check after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reiterated warnings on Thursday that the strong euro could trigger further monetary easing. He also said the ECB could launch a "broad-based" asset purchase program if the medium-term inflation outlook deteriorated.
In the U.S., data on Friday showed that consumer confidence rose to a nine-month high in April, adding to signs that the economy is improving.
The University of Michigan reported that its consumer sentiment index came in at 84.1 this month, up from 80 in March and the preliminary reading of 82.6. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 83.0.
In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on Friday’s U.S. jobs report for April and the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Wednesday''s preliminary April inflation report for the euro zone will also be closely watched.
On Monday, the U.S. is to release private sector data on pending home sales.