The Australian dollar fell almost 1% against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, as traders digested the latest spate of U.S. economic data in their quest to gauge the timing of a future rate hike. AUD/USD hit an intraday low of 0.7746, the weakest level since March 20, before settling at 0.7756 by close of trade, down 0.93%. For the week, the pair declined 0.28%. The Commerce Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter, unchanged from the preliminary estimate and below economists’ forecasts for an upward revision to 2.4%. Another report showed that the final reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index ticked down to 93.0 this month from a final reading of 95.4 in February. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a cautious note on interest rates on Friday. In a speech, the Fed chief said a rate hike may be warranted later this year, but added that weakening inflation pressures could force the Fed to delay. The speech echoed the Fed’s latest policy statement, released on March 18, which indicated that it may raise interest rates more gradually than markets had expected. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.1% to 97.65 on Friday. For the week, the index lost 0.66%, the second consecutive weekly decline. Despite recent losses, the greenback looks likely to continue to strengthen, with the Fed still expected to raise interest rates ahead of other central banks. In the week ahead, investors will be turning their attention to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for further indications on the strength of the recovery in the labor market. Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets. Monday, March 30 The U.S. is to release reports on personal spending and pending home sales. Tuesday, March 31 The U.S. is to release data on consumer confidence. Wednesday, April 1 China is to publish its official manufacturing index. The Asian nation is Australia’s largest trade partner. The U.S. is to release the ADP nonfarm payrolls report, which outlines private sector jobs growth, while the Institute of Supply Management is to release data on manufacturing activity. Thursday, April 2 Australia is to release data on the trade balance. The U.S. is to release data on weekly initial jobless claims, as well as reports on the trade balance and factory orders. Friday, April 3 Markets in Australia will be closed for the Good Friday holiday. The U.S. is to round up the week with what will be a closely watched government report on non-farm payrolls, the unemployment rate and average earnings.