Financial markets have not enjoyed an auspicious start to the new year. A sell-off in the Shanghai stock market unnerved investors, as did the Chinese authorities' clumsy efforts to support equity prices and an 11-year low for oil. 

The result has been a flight to quality, with investors seeking refuge in the safe-haven currencies, especially the yen, and offloading those related to energy and commodities. Amidst all this the dollar has been more a passenger than an active participant, benefitting from its perceived safety credentials. It is unchanged on the week against the euro despite a strong set of US employment data last Friday.

Sterling, on the other hand, has been suffering from the evaporating hope of higher interest rates and from uncertainty about the looming referendum on Britain's continued EU membership. It is down by two US cents on the week and by twice that much in the year to date.