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Investment analysis

The majority of the world&#39s major equity markets continued to move ahead last week with the latest batch of economic data providing further encouragement. There was also good news from the corporate sector in the form positive results, a generally upbeat outlook and a return of M&A activity. By the end of the week the FTSE World index was trading 0.2 per cent higher.

In the UK, cyclical stocks remained the order of the day, with shares in media giant Reuters ending up by over 22 per cent while ICI gained 11 per cent. However, although the FTSE 100 ended up by 0.5 per cent, the index again lagged the FTSE 250 which rose by 2.9 per cent. Smaller companies continued to attract buying interest leaving the FTSE SmallCap index 1.7 per cent higher.

On the economic front, manufacturing numbers were slightly disappointing, with industrial production falling by 0.7 per cent. There was better news on jobs, with unemployment falling to its lowest level since 1975.

It was an eventful week for the US markets although most of the economic news was again positive, with retail sales surprising on the upside while inflation remained at a 41-year low at 1.1 per cent. There was also good news on jobs, with a lower level claiming unemployment benefits while a surprise reduction in the US trade deficit pleased investors.

It was a busy week for the corporate sector, with a number of heavyweights releasing their latest earnings&#39 numbers as well as providing guidance for the future. These were, in the main, positive, with General Electric and IBM pleasing the market although Intel and Yahoo slightly disappointed in terms of outlook. There was excitement in the banking sector with the announcement that Bank-

One is to merge with JP Morgan Chase.

The Dow Jones rose by 1.4 per cent while the S&P 500 gained 1.6 per cent to reach its highest level since April 2002.

In Europe, the FTSE Eurotop 300 gained 1.9 per cent to reach its highest level in 18 months following a boost in technology shares while banking sector also strengthened on the back of take-over speculation.

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A bull case for US equities?

Neptune video: a bull case for US equities?

Watch Felix Wintle, head of US equities at Neptune, discuss why he believes US equities are in a structural bull market and the key factors that can drive the S&P 500 higher.

In the video, Wintle addresses the following:

• The US market and why — despite equities rising from 2009 — he believes the structural bull market only started in 2013
• Key economic and corporate factors that can drive the S&P 500 higher
• Investment themes and sectors offering exposure to the domestic recovery

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