In US economic news, the ISM non-manufacturing index slipped from 53.9 to 53.0 in December - the slowest expansion in six months. The business activity index was relatively robust at 55.2. The biggest decline occurred in the forward orders index which fell 7 points to 49.4 - the first signs of a contraction since July 2009. US factory orders lifted by 1.8 per cent in November, in line with estimates. Excluding transportation factory orders rose by 0.6 per cent.