The Australian dollar's performance was perhaps better than it deserved in the light of some dubious economic data. It clustered with the NZ dollar, the euro and the Swiss franc to take advantage of a slightly more optimistic attitude among investors, adding three quarters of a cent against the pound.

The data that might have hampered it, but didn't, included a weak recovery in mortgage lending as well as monthly and annual falls in new motor vehicle sales.

The most surprising figures were those for employment. While the unemployment rate was steady at 5.2%, 29,300 jobs were lost in December, and the November job loss count was revised upwards to 7,500. Although the numbers were a disappointment, they had only a temporarily negative effect on the Aussie dollar. It started this week heading higher, but gains could be limited by Thursday's Australia day holiday which many investors will be tempted to turn into a four-day weekend.