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Investment analysis

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&#39 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&#39 index.

Wall Street was also boosted by positive earnings&#39 news from a broad

spectrum of companies, President Bush&#39s 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

of expectations.

After a faltering start, predominantly due to the poor-performing

insurance sector, European bourses ended the month sharply higher and

were comfortably the month&#39s 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&#39s 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

at 3,926.

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



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