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INVESTMENT ANALYSIS

Global markets bounced back well last week, inspired by rallies in Japan

and here in the UK. All the major markets except Germany made gains over

the five-day period, with the broad-based FTSE World index up by 1.8 per

cent.

After weeks of profit warnings and earnings&#39 downgrades, last week was

quieter on Wall Street as investors focused on what the Federal Reserve is

likely to do when it next meets this month. Economic data was mixed, with

the US purchasing management index down for July, consumer confidence also

fell in the month. Jobless data was better, with figures showing claims

dropped to the lowest weekly level since February.

In the UK, the momentum from the previous Friday, which saw the FTSE 100

gain nearly 2 per cent, carried through, driven in part by the technology,

media and telecoms sectors. Thursday saw a surprise 25bp cut in the base

rate by the Bank of England, which inspired the markets further, and FTSE

100&#39s six-day 300-plus-point rally was only halted on Friday after weak

economic data prompted renewed concern about the outlook for corporate

profits.

European markets shrugged off poor economic news and a steady stream of

indifferent earnings&#39 statements from corporate heavyweights, to end the

week in positive territory, with the FTSE Eurotop 300 gaining 1.6 per cent.

The BoE&#39s rate decision raised hopes of the European Central Bank following

suit. However, eurozone rates were left on hold despite a weak purchasing

management index, which were in line with market expectations (lowest level

since 1998) and a fall in business confidence.

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