Pound Sterling - UK Markets

Sterling jumped to a seven-week high against the US dollar today after UK service sector data posted a higher-than-expected reading. The PMI Services activity index rose to 45.5 in March from 43.2, the highest reading since September, and beating economists' forecasts of 43.5. The surprise increase caps a good week for UK economic data with PMI Manufacturing and PMI Construction releases improving as well.

The pound has since risen against the US dollar to between 1.4498-1.4898, the highest figure since late November. The euro is now down around 0.4 percent against the pound at a figure around 90.91-90.95 pence.

However, UK house prices fell by 1.9% in March compared with the previous month, according to the Halifax. The average UK home now costs £157,226, at least £30,000 less than a year ago. When comparing the average price from March compared with March 2008, the drop was 17.6%. The reported month-on-month change comes in contrast to the "surprise bounce" of 0.9% in March reported yesterday by the Nationwide Building Society.   

US Dollar - US Markets

With investors' risk appetite boosted by the outcome of the G20 meeting, the US dollar rose briefly above 100 yen in Asian trading on Friday, the first time it had done so since early November 2008. Caution has since returned to the market, ahead of US employment figures due later in the day, which are expected to show the US economy continued to lose jobs in March. Economists estimate that the US economy lost 656,000 jobs in March.

Euro - European Markets

More dire news from Spain as the fall in industrial production continued to gain pace in February, pointing to a deepening slump for the eurozone's fourth-largest economy. According to preliminary data from Spain's National Statistics Institute, Spanish February industrial production fell 22% in calendar-adjusted terms, following a 21% decline in January and 20% fall in December.

Other Currencies - Highlights

China's manufacturing sector showed some growth in March for the first time in six months. The purchasing managers index from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing rose to 52.4 from February's figure of 49. Any figure above 50 indicates an expansion in the manufacturing sector. With manufacturing accounting for about 40% of China's economy, it has been hit by falling demand from its customers in recession-hit western economies.

According to the Federal Statistics Office of Switzerland, Swiss consumer prices fell for the first time in five years in March, dropping by the biggest annual amount in almost 50 years, as the central bank said it would fight deflationary threats. The drops were bigger than forecast and followed unexpected monthly and yearly rises of 0.2 percent in February. Following the report, the franc has fallen against its major counterparts. The Swiss currency is currently trading between 1.5274-1.5474 against the euro, around 1.115-1.1370 against the US dollar and between 1.6482-1.6882 against the pound, an 18-day low.