RAJ hallen Investment director,Premier Fund Managers
Most of the major global bourses performed strongly in April, with
the benchmark FTSE World index advancing by 7.7 per cent during the
The end of military conflict in Iraq boosted sentiment early on, with
support coming from a collection of better than expected corporate
earnings' data throughout April.
The one exception was the Japanese market, which was hit by pension
fund selling. Economic news continued to be mixed.
In the US, indices were spurred on by news from the Gulf early in the
month and mostly ignored poor employment numbers and a bigger than
expected fall in business activity confirmed by the Chicago
purchasing managers' index.
Wall Street was also boosted by positive earnings' news from a broad
spectrum of companies, President Bush's support of another term for
Alan Greenspan as Federal chairman, better than forecast retail sales
figures and the consumer confidence index, which came in well ahead
After a faltering start, predominantly due to the poor-performing
insurance sector, European bourses ended the month sharply higher and
were comfortably the month's best performers – the representative
FTSE Eurotop exc UK index gained 14.5 per cent.
Strong US sales figures saw the German car manufacturers BMW,
DaimlerChrysler and Porsche drive markets ahead early in April. This
was followed by encouraging forward guidance from Swiss Life which
helped the region's insurers.
The FTSE 100 index started the month perilously close to the 3,500
level and then flirted with the psychologically important 4,000 mark
towards the end of April before closing the month 9 per cent higher
Markets shrugged off CBI data, which showed that retail sales for
March had fallen at their highest annual rate in more than a decade.
Both the FTSE 250 and the Hoare Govett smaller cos indices
outperformed the main index, rising by 11.6 per cent and 9.8 per cent