Pound Sterling - UK Markets

UK manufacturing output declined for the 12th straight month in February, while the quarterly measure recorded its steepest drop since records began in 1968, a report from the Office of National Statistics has said.

Although manufacturing output fell 0.9% on the month in February, it compares with a revised 3.0% drop in January and marks the smallest monthly drop since August 2008.

Following the data, the Pound is crawling higher against the US dollar to an interbank rate of between 1.469-1.487, and has risen to an interbank rate against the euro of around 0.9084.

US Dollar - US Markets

The US dollar has risen against the euro and the yen on Monday as American and European stock markets fell lower as recent hopes about economic recovery stalled and investors sought out safe haven currencies. Worries about the financial sector in particular have hit market sentiment hard as banks such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Fifth Third Bancorp took a series of broker downgrades.

At one point yesterday, the continually weaker Japanese yen dropped to a six-month low against the greenback. The dollar rose to around 101.5 yen before easing back down to around 100 yen.

Euro - European Markets

On an annual basis, retail sales fell by 4% in the eurozone during February, a figure that is 0.6% down from January's figures. Retail sales have been under pressure from rising European unemployment, which currently stands at 8.5% across the 16-country eurozone.

Other Currencies - Highlights

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut interest rates to a 49-year low. The cut of a quarter percentage point take interest rates to 3%. Most economists had been predicting no change to rates.

Separately, the Bank of Japan has kept its rates at 0.1%, in line with expectations. However, the Japanese central bank expanded the collateral it will accept in return for loans to commercial banks, now accepting loans on deeds to municipal governments.

A revival in global risk appetite has propelled the South African rand to a near six-month peak against the US dollar. The pair are currently trading around R9.099-R9.139. A surprise contraction in South Africa's trade deficit and the economy's resilience in the wake of the global financial crisis have all conspired to boost the rand by around 7% in the past week.