US durable goods orders, the monthly statistic that measures the queue of buyers for long-lasting products (toasters and furniture as opposed to bread and polish) fell by a larger-than-expected -4.0% in June. The figure attracted less than the usual attention on Wednesday because investors were focused on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy statement, which was due to appear later the same day. The statement did allow that the next move for interest rates is likely to be upwards but it studiously avoided the important question of when. Investors were disappointed and marked the dollar lower.

Sterling's problem had come earlier, with last Friday's purchasing managers' index readings. They showed a broad swath of UK private sector companies reporting slowing business and they increased the chance of a rate cut by the Bank of England in August. The dollar was up by half a cent on the week against sterling but lost half a cent to the euro.