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Investment analysis

Most of the world&#39s major equity markets put in a respectable performance last week, with the FTSE World index gaining 1.3 per cent in spite of extreme nervousness over further terrorist attacks and concerns over the Iraqi situation.

It turned out to be a highly positive week for UK blue-chip stocks, with the FTSE 100 recouping much of its recent lost ground with a rise of 3.2 per cent. Leading the winners&#39 list was Capita group whose shares leaped by over 20 per cent on the back of a positive profits outlook and a supposedly successful congestion charge launch. Also supporting the market was a further spate of bid activity, with BAT&#39s interest in Gallagher resulting in an 11.3 per cent rise in the latter&#39s share price while hotel and pub group Six Continents shares jumped 12.6per cent on the back of a possible takeover approach.

On the downside, it was another poor week for Invensys, whose share price fell by 18 per cent, taking its decline for the year to 69 per cent, while insurers were once again in the spotlight amid pension deficit concerns and talk of a possible large rights issue in the sector. Leading the fallers was Royal & Sun Alliance which was down by 9.1 per cent while shares in Aviva ended 6.2per cent lower.

Although it was a very strong week for large-cap stocks, the junior indices were slightly more subdued, with the FTSE 250 index gaining 1.1per cent while the Hoare Govett Smaller Companies index ended 0.7 per cent higher.

In spite of economic data indicating higher inflation, a record trade deficit and weak employment , US stocks proved remarkably resilient, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 gaining 1.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent and the Nasdaq up by 3.4 per cent.

In Europe, trading was more subdued although a strong showing late on Friday helped shares back into the black with the FTSE Eurotop 300 index ending 0.4 per cent higher.

In Japan, further yen strength weighed on the country&#39s exporters, resulting in a 2.2 per cent decline in the Nikkei 225. Elsewhere in the Far East, trading was generally positive with stocks in Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong all ending in positive territory.

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Monday, 24 February 2003 Type: Oeic Aim: Growth by investing in UK companies Minimum investment: Lump sum £1,000, monthly £50 Investment split: 100% in UK companies Isa link: Yes Pep transfers: Yes Charges: Initial 5%, annual 1.745% Commission: Initial 3%, renewal 0.5% Tel: 0845 6071914

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