- The Australian dollar weakened slightly in early trade on Friday after Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said the exchange rate is "high by historical standards" after reaching $0.9113 overnight on solid retail sales and trade data on Thursday, the highest level traded since Dec. 11 2013.

AUD/USD traded at 0.9084, down 0.06%, after remarks by Stevens before the House ofrepresentatives Economics Committee to provide his twice-yearly update on the economy. At the same time the AI Group/HIA construction index, a private survey, showed a drop of 4.0 points to 44.2 with new orders the lowest since June 2013.

The China National People''s Congress until March 13 remains a key background focus for markets in Asia.

In Japan, the only morning release on schedule is trade data for the first 20 days of Feb due at 0850 (2350 GMT).

At 1400 (0500 GMT), Japan''s Jan Indices of leading, coincident and lagging indicators are due. This would be followed an hour later (0600 GMT) by the release of the ESP Forecast Survey of economists on GDP, CPI and BOJ policy.

The government will maintain its assessment that the economy is "improving" based on the coincident composite index, which is expected to post a fifth straight month-to-month gain in January, up around 2.6 points. Meanwhile, the leading composite index is also forecast to mark a fifth consecutive rise in January, up about 1.4 points, indicating that the economic recovery remains solid in the three months ahead.

Overnight, the dollar trade largely lower against most major currencies after the European Central Bank left monetary policy unchanged and sparked demand for the euro and other higher-yielding currencies, while hit-or-miss data in the U.S. tarnished the greenback''s appeal.

The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.01% at 79.67.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with its closely watched government data on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate.

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