The dollar was the top performer among the major currencies. It strengthened by three and a half cents against sterling and by two and a half against the euro. The dollar also leads the way over the last month, having picked up five and a half cents from sterling and nearly four from the euro.

No credit for the dollar's rise can go to the US economic data. Most failed to meet investors' expectations, with only initial jobless claims and new home sales coming in better than forecast.

However, the mediocre ecostats will apparently not stand in the way of an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve. Five of the twelve voting members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said during the week that the Federal Funds Rate would probably head higher before Christmas. That was enough to motivate investors to buy the dollar.