The New Zealand dollar was almost unchanged against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, after strong building consents data from New Zealand, as investors remained cautious ahead of Friday''s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.

NZD/USD hit 0.8242 during late Asian trade, the pair''s lowest since January 3; the pair subsequently consolidated at 0.8263, easing 0.05%.

The pair was likely to find support at 0.8179, the low of January 3 and resistance at 0.8318, Wednesday''s high.

Official data showed that building consents in New Zealand climbed 11.1% in November, after an upwardly revised 3.3% rise in October.

The greenback found support after Wednesday’s minutes of the Federal Reserve''s December meeting showed that the bank cited a stronger labor market in its decision to cut its asset purchase program by USD10 billion, reducing it to USD75 billion-a-month.

The minutes also showed that officials were keen to stress that further reductions were not on a “preset course” and would be undertaken in “measured” steps.

The minutes came after a report showing that the U.S. private sector added the largest number of jobs since November 2012 last month. ADP nonfarm payrolls rose by 238,000 in December, easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 200,000.

The kiwi was higher against the Australian dollar, with AUD/NZD edging down 0.20% to 1.0746.

Also Thursday, official data showed that building approvals in Australia dropped 1.5% in November, confounding expectations for a 1% decline, after a 1.6% fall the previous month. October''s figure was revised up from a previously estimated 1.8% decline.

A separate report showed that retail sales in the Australia rose 0.7% in November, compared to expectations for a 0.3% gain, after an increase of 0.5% in October.

Later in the day, the U.S. Labor Department was to release its weekly report on initial jobless claims.

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