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Investment

Three strong sessions out of four saw the FTSE World index gain 2.9 per cent by Thursday&#39s close last week.

In the US, after a wealth of economic data during the previous two weeks, investors had little information to digest. Trading volumes were thin, with many on the sidelines waiting for the holiday season to end.

A broad rally earlier in the week, with particular strength in the financials, retailers, healthcare and technology stocks, saw all the indices push firmly ahead, with the Dow and Nasdaq pushing above 9,000 and 1,400 respectively.

European equities performed strongly, with the FTSE Eurotop 300 index striding past the 1,000 level – its highest in six weeks. There was some respite for the battered and ailing French media group Vivendi Universal, which, after shedding 45.3 per cent in the prior week – clawed its way back by nearly 40 per cent between Monday and Thursday. Telecoms performed well, with Germany&#39s Mobilcom gaining 30 per cent on Thursday amid rumours of a bid from France Telecom. Germany&#39s Dax and France&#39s CAC 40 both advanced more than 6 per cent over the first four sessions.

In the UK, the heavyweight sectors – the banks, pharmaceuticals, oils and financials, which form a large part of the FTSE 100 all had a part to play in pushing the index beyond 4,400. The general bullishness was tempered somewhat by domestic news on retail sales from the latest CBI survey which showed that July figures were below consensus forecast.

A sell-off in Japan, caused by a credit warning from rating agency Standard & Poor&#39s on Monday, saw the Nikkei 225 shed nearly 2 per cent amid thin trading. These losses were largely reversed on Thursday when tech stocks rallied strongly after overnight gains on the Nasdaq.

In Hong Kong, good performance from the blue-chip exporters on the hope of continued demand from the US, the region&#39s second-biggest export market, helped the Hang Seng index forge ahead. South Korea&#39s composite index closed at its highest level in a month as domestic institutions bought into blue-chip tech and telecom issues.

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