Ecostats from the States were fairly thin in the ground and painted a mixed picture. New home sales were particularly strong in July while existing (second-hand) home sales fell by more than expected. The purchasing managers' index for the manufacturing sector indicated slowing growth despite a 4.4% monthly jump in durable goods orders. All the while, investors were revising their expectations for US interest rates as a string of Federal Reserve chiefs took turns to offer their opinions. Financial futures pricing a week ago put the chance of a rate hike next month at only one in five; that probability has now increased to one in three.

Sterling put in the best performance among the premier league currencies as investors cut back their short positions in the light of better than expected UK economic data. It added two thirds of a US cent, though the dollar did pick up half a cent against the euro.