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Forex - Aussie holds gains after mixed housing and lending data sets

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Shutterstock photo - - The Australian dollar gained on Wednesday in Asia, lifted by private sector credit, while the yen weakened in Asia on Wednesday as end-of-month data came in below expectations on industrial production and retail sales with a spate of housing and lending data from Australia ahead.

USD/JPY changed hands at 119.98, up 0.120, while AUD/USD traded at 0.7012, up 0.38%.

In Australia, building approvals slumped 6.9% month-on-month in August, much sharper than the 2.0% fall seen and the fifth straight negative monthly fall, while housing credit rose 0.6% in the month, the same pace as July, and private house approvals rose 4.9%, reversing a 3.5% fall in July. The building approvals data may be at odds with the Reserve Bank's forecast for continued growth in building construction.

Private sector credit rose 0.6% month-on-month in August, better than the 0.5% gain seen.

Earlier, in Japan, industrial production fell 0.5% month-on-month in August on a provisional basis, compared to a 1.0% gain seen. Retail sales gained 0.8% year-on-year in the same month, a fifth straight gain, but below the 1.1% rise expected.

METI has maintained its assessment of retail sales, saying they are flat with some weakness. The protracted drag from last year's sales tax hike has dissipated but the three-month moving average for automobile sales was still down and demand for durable goods including air conditioners has not recovered to the level seen in average years.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.03% at 96.04.

Overnight, the dollar held gains against the other major currencies on Tuesday, after the release of upbeat U.S. consumer sentiment data added to hopes for a potential U.S. rate hike later this year.

The Conference Board reported said its index of consumer confidence rose to an eight-year high of 103.0 this month from a reading of 101.3 in August, whose figure was revised from a previously reported 101.5. Analysts expected the index to fall to 96.1 in September.

The dollar had weakened earlier amid uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve will raise short term interest rates this year following mixed messages from central bank policymakers.

New York Fed President William Dudley and San Francisco Fed head John Williams indicated support for a rate hike in 2015 in separate speeches on Monday, but Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said rates should remain on hold until mid-2016.

The remarks came after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week that the bank was still on track for a rate hike before the years end. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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