By quite a wide margin the dollar was the week's top performer among the major currencies.   It strengthened by three and a half cents against sterling and by two cents against the euro.

Its first break came ahead of the long weekend when the "core" rate of inflation, excluding the effects of food and energy prices, came in higher than expected at 1.8%.   The second was on Tuesday when durable goods orders were stronger than forecast.   Most of the lesser US ecostats met or exceeded expectations too, encouraging investors to maintain their belief that interest rates will start to move higher before the end of the year.

That belief was reinforced by the Federal Reserve vice-chairman, Stanley Fischer.   He said in a speech that he could not rule out the first increase coming as soon as June.   Next Friday's US payrolls data will be an important pointer to whether or not that is feasible.