The Australian dollar showed weakness against most of its major opponents on Wednesday morning in Asia after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that retail sales in Australia dropped 2.0 percent in February. However, the aussie rose to a weekly high against the New Zealand dollar due to across the board weakening of the latter.

Retail sales came in at A$18.87 billion, down from A$19.26 in January but up from A$18.12 billion a year earlier. This marked the largest monthly decline since July 2000. Analysts had expected a decline of 0.3 percent on month following the revised 0.5 percent increase in January.

Further, the Statistics Agancy also released building approvals data that showed Australian residential housing approvals were up 7.8% on month in February at 10,050, but down 25.5% on year.

Additionally, the Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index came in at 33.4 in March, up from 31.7 in February.

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' data showed that Australia's skilled job vacancies in March were down 10.8% on month, posting an index score of 40.7 points, down 6.5% on month. On an annual basis, job vacancies were down 57.9%.

The Australian stock market was trading lower today, amid concerns about domestic economic growth, despite gains on Wall Street overnight. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was losing 18 points or 0.49% to 3,565, after closing more than half-a-percent lower on Tuesday. The broader All Ordinaries index was down 16 points or 0.46% to 3,516.

The Australian dollar reached as low as 0.6858 against the US dollar before leveling off in early Asian trading on Wednesday. In near term, the Aussie is likely to test support around the 0.6785 level. The aussie-buck pair, which closed Tuesday's North American deals at 0.6915, is currently quoted at 0.6896.

Against the Japanese yen, the Australian currency edged lower to 67.66 by 8:30 pm ET. This may be compared to 68.45 hit late New York Tuesday. The aussie-yen pair is presently quoted at 68.09.

The yen gained despite the Bank of Japan's Tankan Survey report, which revealed that the sentiment among Japan's large manufacturers plummeted at a record rate in the first quarter of 2009, posting a score of -58. That was worse than analyst expectations for -55 following a score of -24 in the previous quarter. It was also worse than the previous record low of -57 in 1975. The large manufacturers' outlook for the June quarter came in at -51.

The Australian dollar that touched its highest level of 0.88 against the loonie yesterday for the first time since late September 2008, reversed direction on Wednesday morning in Asia. The aussie slipped to 0.8688 against the Canadian dollar by 8:30 pm ET and the pair is currently trading near 0.874. The pair closed Tuesday's North American deals at 0.8715.

Traders continued to mull yesterday's government report showing that the Canadian economy shrank 0.7 percent in January.

The Australian dollar advanced to a weekly high of 1.24 against the New Zealand dollar by 10:05 pm ET. The next upside target level for the aussie is seen at 1.243. The aussie-kiwi pair that closed Tuesday's New York trading at 1.2367 is currently quoted at 1.2362.

The aussie eased to 1.9285 against the common currency of Europe before edging slightly higher by 8:30 pm ET. The euro-aussie pair leveled off thereafter and is currently trading near Tuesday's New York session closing value of 1.9174.

Traders are looking forward to the German retail sales report for February, euro-zone jobless rate for February and the manufacturing PMI reports from major European economies for March in the upcoming session.

Across the Atlantic, the ADP National Employment report is scheduled to be released at 8:15 am ET. The private sector in the U.S. is likely to have lost 663,000 jobs in March.

At 10:00 am ET, the ISM manufacturing for March and pending home sales for February are due out.

Also, the Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its weekly petroleum inventory report at 10:30 AM ET.

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