Investors found little to applaud among last week's crop of mostly low-importance US economic data. Except for building permits and housing starts, which came in higher than forecast, just about every ecostat failed to meet expectations. The more notable misses were for industrial production, which unexpectedly fell in April, and existing home sales which slumped by a monthly -3.3%.

The minutes of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting looked at first glance unhelpful to the dollar, because they decreased the likelihood of an interest rate increase in June. However, investors were mollified by the reassurance that the timing of the first rise will be "determined on a meeting-by-meeting basis".

Because the euro was under even greater pressure from duff data the dollar was able to lead the other major currencies home. It strengthened by two and three quarter cents against the euro itself and by a cent against sterling.