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The tech media have seized upon a story from the University of California, where researchers have invented a mushroom-powered battery for mobile phones. It allegedly works better when kept in the dark. Unlike investors, who were left groping yesterday when Fed leaders remained silent on the matter of interest rates.

William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, was talking about bank regulation and had nothing to add to his observation earlier this week that "It's not for me to say what the market expectation should be". Jim Bullard, the St Louis Fed president, and his boss Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairperson, were talking about community banks and were not to be drawn on the matter of interest rate increases.

Their lack of comment was in contrast to the chorus of remarks from the Federal Reserve leadership over the last fortnight pointing to higher US rates this year. Whether or not it represented a change of heart, it tended to support pricing in the futures market which indicates only a 41% probability of a rate increase before Christmas. It also contributed to a good day for global share prices and commodity-related currencies.

More sandbags abandoned
Just as the prospect of a further delay to the tightening of US monetary policy helped the "risky" currencies, so it hobbled the safe-havens. The euro was the biggest casualty, losing a cent to sterling, and the Swiss franc was down by a third of a cent. 

Although the US dollar strengthened by two fifths of a cent against the pound it was still in the back half of the field. ADP's employment change number showed the addition of 200k jobs in September, a bigger number than expected, but the Chicago purchasing managers' index - the granddaddy of all PMIs - was a disappointing 48.7. 

Britain's economy was confirmed to have grown by 0.7% in the second quarter and, as expected, there were upward adjustments to the historic gross domestic product data. The news was initially positive for sterling but in most cases it failed to hold onto its gains. Sterling was steady against the yen and lower by an average of 0.3% - two fifths of a US cent - against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. The South African rand led the way for a second day.

Manufacturing PMIs
It being the first of the month, today's agenda is dominated by the purchasing managers' indices. The figures already announced this morning by Australia and China were only vaguely reassuring.

Two of the Chinese measures were in the expansion zone above 50, as were the figures for Australian and Japanese manufacturing, but the other two weren't. Analysts predict almost all of the readings from Europe and North America to be positive.

There is not much else of interest on today's list. Weekly US jobless claims and the Challenger Job Cuts numbers may influence expectations for tomorrow's official employment report. Sterling faces no obvious risks.