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Investment analysis

Poor corporate results, predominantly from across the Atlantic, saw global markets end the third week of the new year lower despite some positive US economic data. The representative FTSE World index shed a further 1.7 per cent last week.

In the US, stocks fell after corporate results from IBM and Microsoft put Wall Street in a selling mood on Friday. Earlier in the week,selling pressure was also seen after industry leader Intel announced poor last-quarter earnings and a reduction in capital spending for the year.

There was some positive news, however, on the economic front, with US retail sales falling by just 0.1 per cent in December against expectations of a 1.4 per cent drop. November&#39s figures were also revised upwards.

There was also good news a day later with lower than expected headline inflation figures for December although this was offset somewhat by worse than forecast industrial output and capacity utilisation numbers. Further hopeful economic data came in the form of jobless claims, which fell to their lowest levels in six months.

After a week of changing moods driven day to day by corporate results, the benchmark Eurotop 300 index ended down by 1.7 per cent. Technology issues suffered in the main.

The week also saw the UK report its third consecutive month of rising unemployment and a surprising decline in retail sales in December of 0.3 per cent against a consensus forecast of +0.7 per cent. This and news from the US saw UK markets end an erratic week lower.

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