Although the Australian dollar strengthened by a cent against sterling and added more than one and a half US cents it would have done even better had it not been for the employment figures. Investors are accustomed to the Australian jobs data throwing up unexpected and strange numbers. Even so, the loss of 6,400 jobs in February and an uptick in the rate of unemployment from 5.7% to 5.9% still took them by surprise and put a dent in the Aussie. The move came less than 36 hours after the Australian dollar had pushed strongly ahead when the Federal Reserve expressed less than the expected enthusiasm to crank up US interest rates.
Sterling also took a couple of hits from the economic data: manufacturing and industrial output were lower and the pace of wage increases slowed. But then the pound got a helping hand from the Monetary Policy Committee, one of whom voted this week to raise UK interest rates.