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Investment analysis

After a strong 11-week rally, global equity markets lost ground last week as investors took profits and continued to worry about the prospects for the world economy. The FTSE World index shed gains made in the previous week and more, losing 3.3 per cent over five days.

Following disappointing US employment data, a quarter-point cut in the Fed rate came as no great surprise to equity markets, which failed to be inspired. Instead, the focus was on more gloomy news from the corporate sector and the economy.

Retail sales for November fell by 3.7 per cent month on month and October&#39s figures were revised down. US drugs group Bristol Meyers Squibb forecast a fall in 2002 earnings and telecoms equipment giant Lucent issued a profits warning.

In Europe, technology stocks in particular continued to shed their post-September gains. German chipmaker Infineon led the retreat, falling by more than 11 per cent midweek. The highly priced pharmaceutical sector also had an uncomfortable week, shedding 3.3 per cent. More positively, a drop in the French inflation rate to 1.3 per cent in November increased the hopes of a further rate cut by the European Central Bank.

In the UK, the constant flow of confidence-eroding news from across the Atlantic was behind the widespread decline in London&#39s equity markets, with the FTSE 100 retreating for the sixth consecutive session on Friday.

In Japan, the Tankan survey of business confidence turned out too be less grim than feared but further bad news on the Japanese economy saw the markets lose ground over the week.

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In Focus — May 2015: private medical insurance market in Germany

Welcome to the latest edition of In Focus. In this issue, Jelf examines the private medical insurance market for employers with expatriate workforces in Germany. This includes the common challenges faced in sourcing appropriate coverage, along with a selection of available solutions. This will be of particular interest to HR/reward decision makers with employees based in Germany. It will assess the cultural norms, risks and backdrop that are relevant to organisations with expatriate staff in this location.

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