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Investment analysis

Following two weeks of declines, equity markets returned to winning

ways last week, albeit just.

In the UK, the market was given an initial boost following the news

that the Bank of England&#39s monetary policy committee voted

unanimously to leave interest rates unchanged at its meeting earlier

in the month. However, there was bad news from the corporate sector

with shares in Energis falling by two-thirds after its profit warning.

In spite of this, the FTSE 100 managed to claw its way to a gain of

1.2 per cent with strong performances in banks, and the oil majors

offsetting weakness in telecom stocks.

While the blue-chips ended the week in positive territory, telecom

casualties littered the mid-cap arena, leaving the FTSE 250 0.8 per

cent lower. Small-cap stocks were also subdued, with the Hoare Govett

index falling by 0.1 per cent and the FTSE small cap index down by 1

per cent.

A more bullish tone by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in his

latest testimony to the Senate budget committee helped US stocks end

marginally higher in a shortened week&#39s trading.

In Europe, better than expected results from Nokia, together with a

positive outlook for the next year helped the region to a gain of

just over 1 per cent. Nokia&#39s good news was partly offset by some

disappointing numbers from rival Ericsson which reported an annual

loss for the first time .

In Japan, there was little to encourage investors, with further

weakness in the banks pushing the Nikkei 225 down by 1.4 per cent.

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