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Investment Analysis

World equity markets escaped what was in the main another grim set of US economic data relatively unscathed as inv-estors decided to focus their attention on the likelihood of further interest rate cuts in the US, Europe and the UK this week and the prospects of a global recovery in 2002.

While most of the last week&#39s economic numbers came in worse than expected, the market was given a boost following the release of third-quarter US GDP data which at -0.4 per cent was well above most analysts&#39 forecasts.

However, the rest of the economic numbers made for depressing reading, with the news that US unemployment had risen to 5.4 per cent following hot on the heels of figures showing US consumer confidence having fallen to its lowest level for seven years. In addition, the latest National Association of Purchasing Management&#39s index of manufacturing showed a worse than expected fall.

Although most of the world&#39s equity markets fell, a rally towards the end of the week limited the downside.

In the US, the S&P 500 fell by 1.6 per cent while the Nasdaq gave up some of its recent strong gains, ending the week 2 per cent lower.

Closer to home, the FTSE Eurotop 300 index fell by 1.9 per cent while the UK&#39s FTSE 100 lost 1.1 per cent although the index again outperformed the FTSE 250 and small-cap indices, which ended 1.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent lower.

In the Far East, the Bank of Japan&#39s comments that the economy may remain in recession for a further two years depressed prices in Tokyo.


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