Crude oil can't seem to make it's mind up which side of 80 dollars it wants to be. The US Energy Information Administration said yesterday that crude stocks rose last week by 3.7 million barrels despite the cold spell gripping America. That was more than double what the market had been expecting. Inventories of distillates rose by 1.4 million barrels, instead of falling as forecast. China continuing to tighten monetary policy might also impact on demand. Optimism that the US economy is improving, leading to a pick-up in demand form the world's largest consumer seems to be preventing a slide too far into the USD70's though.

The pound is also looking like Mavis Riley confronted by a naked Peter Andre this morning. Shall I or shan't I go through 1.63 against the dollar, oh I don't really know Rita? The New York Fed President said yesterday that US interest rates could stay close to zero for another two years. But on the other hand we've got one-eyed Gordon Brown and puffy Alistair Darling to guide our ship through troubled waters. I wouldn't like to be tied to the mast on that particular vessel, would you? "Roger the cabin boy, Darling" "Aye, aye, capt'n - as soon as I've finished with this one."