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    Aussie down ahead of retail sales, trade balanc

    The Aussie ticked lower in early Asia on Thursday with trade and retail sales expected to set the tone.

    AUD/USD traded at 0.7252, down 0.08$, while USD/JPY changed hands at 109.55, up 0.01%.

    In Australia, the AIG manufacturing index for May is due with a reading of 53.4 previously.

    Also, the trade balance for April is seen at a deficit of A$2,0 billion, with imports and exports also due month-on-month. At the same time, retail sales are expected to show a 0.3% gain in April month-on-month.

    The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was last quoted at 95.42.

    Overnight, the dollar remained broadly lower against the other major currencies on Wednesday as a series of mixed U.S. economic reports added to doubts over whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June.

    The Institute of Supply Management said its manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.3 in May from 50.8 in April, compared to expectations for the index to tick down to 50.4.

    But the new orders index dipped from 55.8 in April to 55.7 and the employment index was flat at 49.2The report came after a similar survey by research group Markit showing that factory activity slowed slightly in May, hitting the lowest level since September 2009.

    The final reading of the Markit manufacturing PMI came in at 50.7, better than the preliminary estimate of 50.5, but below Aprils reading of 50.8.

    A separate report showed that U.S. construction spending fell 1.8% in April, the largest monthly decline since January 2011. Economists had forecast an increase of 0.6%.

    The figures came after other mixed economic reports earlier in the week raised concerns over the outlook for second quarter growth.

    Investors were turning their attention to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for May for fresh indications on the strength of the labor market.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week it could be appropriate raise rates in the coming months if the economy and the labor market continue to pick up as expected, fueling expectations for a June rate hike.

    The Fed hiked interest rates in December for the first time in almost a decade.

    The yen strengthened earlier after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was planning to delay a scheduled sales tax hike by two-and-a-half years, amid ongoing weakness in the economy.

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