The latest message from the Federal Reserve is that investors would be wrong to dismiss the possibility of interest rates going up this year. However, the American economic data released over the last week offered no compelling argument for higher rates anytime soon. Industrial production was down by a monthly -0.6% in March. Consumer confidence was a point softer at 89.7. A rebound in existing home sales was offset by falls in the number of housing starts and building permits.

The UK ecostats were no better, with a rise in the number of jobseekers and a -1.3% monthly fall in retail sales. But sterling managed to move higher despite those numbers, probably as a result of investors taking profits on their short positions. For the first time in ages it was the week's top performer among the major currencies, adding two US cents. The dollar also lost a quarter of a cent to the euro.