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Conflicting signals on the state of the US economy and an American attack on Iraq knocked confidence on Wall Street and sent global bourses lower last week, reversing most of the gains made in the previous week. The FTSE World index shed 2.4 per cent.

In the US, Tuesday saw the release of encouraging durable goods orders for July which showed their biggest increase in nine months. The news, temporarily at least, put fears of a double-dip recession on the backburner. However, consumer data out on the same day confirmed that consumer confidence had fallen to a nine-month low in August. This, coupled with Thursday&#39s poor job figures showing claims for benefit rising for a third consecutive week, highlighted increasing concern for US consumer spending, which accounts for 60 per cent of the economy.

The telecom and tech stocks led the market lower after troubled Canadian equipment maker Nortel Networks lowered its third-quarter revenue forecasts and announced 7,000 job cuts. The Nasdaq 100 was the hardest-hit index, falling by 6.7 per cent, the Dow and the broader S&P Composite both lost about 2.5 per cent.

The shine was taken off a strong showing by European equities early in the week by data from the US and poor performance by the tech, telecom and the insurance stocks. The FTSE Eurotop 300 fell by 3.5 per cent. European insurers had another difficult week with the world&#39s two leading reinsurers announcing worse than expected first-half figures. Swiss Re, the second-biggest, fell by 13.7 per cent on Thursday after net profits came in almost SFr1bn less than forecast. Global number one Munich Re abandoned its full-year profit forecast after posting a dismal second quarter.

In Japan, investors failed to be impressed by data showing second quarter GDP growing by 0.5 per cent, instead focusing on disappointing industrial production figures for July. The Nikkei 225 shed 2.5 per cent.

In Hong Kong, five consecutive down sessions saw the Hang Seng index fall by 2 per cent with property shares being marked sharply lower.


Chartwell axes Cockerill and admin staff in &#39tough market&#39

IFA Chartwell Investment Management has axed several of its staff – including high-profile head of discretionary administration Tim Cockerill – in a cost-cutting exercise. Cockerill and four other staff were told last week that their jobs were to go, with the IFA struggling in the present market conditions. The remaining staff will collectively assume the […]

Aegon takes stake in Assureweb

Aegon UK have become the fifth provider to buy a stake in the Misys portal Assureweb. It follows Clerical Medical, Friends Provident, Norwich Union, Scottish Widows purchase of 40 per cent of the portal in January. Misys retains a majority stake of 60 per cent. Collectively the five providers have made a £9.2m investment in […]

Fidelity is leading fund sales league by nearly £100,000

Fidelity&#39s total net retail sales outstripped its nearest competitor by almost £100m in the second quarter of the year, according to a confidential report only available to fund managers. The Fund Sales Report, seen by Money Marketing, shows that Fidelity&#39s sales hit £426m in the second quarter while nearest rival HSBC – which recently lost […]

Zurich Bank to close

Zurich Financial Services is today closing Zurich Bank, its UK internet bank, to new business and withdrawing the service completely in the spring of next year. The move to close the bank, launched late last year in a joint venture with HBoS, is a result of Zurich Financial Services&#39 decision announced today to refocus itself […]

Brexit & the mid cap buying opportunities

By Mark Martin, Head of UK Equities at Neptune  Amid the market volatility in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum, there are buying opportunities for the prudent investor, explains Mark Martin. Click here for full article Important Information: Investment risks This fund may have a high volatility rating and past performance is not a guide […]


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