Although it did not quite manage to grab the top slot the euro added an average of 1% against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies, taking two and a half cents off the US dollar and two off sterling. It lost out only to the Swiss franc, which investors saw as an even safer proposition. Their need for safety stemmed mainly from Washington, where the endless flow of controversy surrounding the White House never for a second threatened to let up.

The pound was tested by the UK economic data, some of them good, some bad. Investors were not impressed to see that inflation had overtaken the pace of wage increases but they did approve of the lowest unemployment rate in more than 40 years. Strong April retail sales sent sterling higher on Thursday but buyers lost their nerve later in the day when sterling found itself above US$1.30.