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Investment analysis

Global bourses continued to take part in the summer rally, with most gaining ground over the week. An unexpected decline in US consumer confidence failed to deter, with investors focusing on good jobs&#39 data from the US, which showed a strengthening employment market.

In the US, Hewlett Packard provided the market with a reality check in midweek after reporting disappointing results with the figures from the computer group casting fresh doubts on the sustainability of the recent sharp bounce in the technology sector. However, strong performance from the chipmakers and the retailers at the start of the week which saw the Dow hit a 14-month high on Tuesday and the good jobs&#39 data was enough to keep the buyers interested. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices gained 14.2 per cent on Monday – the best performance on the S&P 500 after a weekend report pointed to the success of its latest line of chip. The news spurred the Nasdaq to touch a 16-month high. Among the retailers, home improvement products retailer Lowes was the best, with its share price hitting a year high after its second-quarter earnings beat analysts&#39 expectations.

A bad day for eurozone insurers on Wednesday sent the Eurotop index lower but only after it had posted nine successive days of gains and hit its best level since the start of December last year. The region&#39s airlines were strong on Monday with renewed takeover speculation sending shares in Swiss International Air Lines higher and broker upgrades providing a boost for the entire sector. The following day, the technology sector took the baton to seal the ninth winning day.

In the UK, the blue-chip index traded above the 4,200 level but in a very tight range. Consolidation prospects in the housebuilders helped the index firm up on Monday but the index was dragged back during the week on profit-taking from the recently favoured cyclical sectors.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 hit a 13-month high on Thursday after registering four consecutive positive days. Although there was some profit-taking on Friday the index had still soared 4.5 per cent higher by Friday&#39s close, this after a gain of more than 5 per cent the previous week.

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