A good start to the year took the Australian dollar four fifths of a cent higher against sterling and it gained more than one US cent, strengthening by 1.6%. The Aussie's gains against the Greenback are easily explained: Minutes of the US Federal Reserve's last policy meeting called into question the determination of the Fed to push ahead with the expected three interest rate increases this year. The US dollar was consequently the weakest among the major currencies. Sterling was in the middle of the pack, neck and neck with the euro, as both economies delivered decent ecostats.

The Australian economic statistics were respectable too. Private sector companies in the manufacturing and services sectors reported improvements in current and anticipated activity. The balance of trade figures showed the biggest monthly surplus in two and a half years as exports jumped 8% while imports remained flat.