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Investment analysis

A quicker end to the war in Afghanistan than most had dared hope gave global markets fresh impetus to continue the post-September rally. Despite further global economic woes, all the major markets finished the week higher with the FTSE World Index ending up by 1.8 per cent.

In the US, equity markets broke through psychological important milestones midweek as the Dow Jones Industrial average topped 10,000 for the first time since early September and the Nasdaq Composite went above 2,000, a level last seen in August.

Economic data was mixed. The latest NAPM figures on US non-manufacturing sectors provided a particular shot in the arm, leaping from a four-year low of 40.6 in October to 51.3 in November, well above consensus estimates. Factory orders also grew by 7.1 per cent. However, November&#39s jobless data was much worse than expected – 331,000 US jobs were lost in the month and the unemployment rate is now at a six-year high of 5.7 per cent.

A technology-led rally sent European bourses higher on Tuesday, calling a halt to an eight-session losing streak. The bullish mood continued as European purchasing managers&#39 surveys showed that the slowdown in the service sectors was beginning to bottom out. After an aggressive 0.5 per cent cut in November, the European Central Bank, as expected, left rates unchanged.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 briefly breached the 5,400 level on Thursday but eased back on profit-taking and gloomy job data from the US. Economic news was mixed, with a steep 1.1 per cent decline in industrial production in October.


Axa PPP Healthcare appoints new chief exec

Axa PPP Healthcare has announced the appointment of Keith Gibbs as its new chief executive with effect from December 17.He will succeed Mark Adams, who left the provider at the end of November for a position outside the industry.Gibbs, 43, has had considerable experience in financial services at Sun Life Financial of Canada, Sentinel Life, […]

Aberdeen buys Old Mutual International

Aberdeen Asset Management is to buy Isle of Man based life insurance firm Old Mutual International for £36.5m.OMI was incporporated into the Isle of Man in 1985, but has been closed to new business since 1998.Aberdeen is also set to raise £100m through an offering of convertible bonds.

Inora Life brings in with-profits alternative

Inora Life, the Dublin-based offshoot of Societe Generale, has designed a capital protected offshore bond as an alternative to with-profits bonds.The protected profit bond has a five-year term and is available in an income and a growth version.Investors with the growth option get 100 per cent of their original capital returned after five years while […]

Co-operative society

Christmas is the traditional time to put aside differences and offer goodwill to all men. It is also a time for looking forward, so I want to look at how we could change our industry to make it a better place for providers, advisers and consumers. It never ceases to amaze me how little advisers […]

The savvy consumer

In last year’s FCA thematic review of the mortgage market, one of the key things highlighted was the “savvy consumer”. That’s the client who comes in the door with a very clear idea of what they need and expect you to get them it. They don’t think they need advice, they have after all consulted […]


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