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Investment analysis

It was a disappointing week for equity investors, with most of the world&#39s stockmarkets drifting lower due to higher oil prices and some disappointing earnings&#39 announcements from the US technology sector. By the end of last week, the FTSE World index was trading 0.7 per cent lower, having gained 1.2 per cent since the start of the year.

Having risen by 0.25 per cent in May and June, UK interest rates were left at 4.5 per cent last week, which was no surprise to financial markets. However, it was a subdued week for equities and although the FTSE 100 broke a run of seven consecutive days of losses on Thursday, the index still ended the week down by 0.3 per cent. Mid caps fared even worse, with many cyclical stocks running into selling pressure and by Friday&#39s close, the FTSE 250 was nursing a loss of 2.1 per cent while the FTSE SmallCap index ended the week 1.3 per cent lower.

In the US, shares fell to their lowest level since May, with technology stocks particularly weak after some disappointing earnings&#39 statements. Rising oil prices also took their toll on equities although encouraging results from General Electric and an upbeat statement on its future prospects saw share prices rising again on Friday. By the end of the week, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 had fallen by 0.7 per cent and 1.1 per cent while the Nasdaq was trading 3 per cent lower.

Although European oil stocks benefited from rising crude prices, it was not a good week for the broader market, with the FTSE Eurotop 300 index breaking a sequence of seven consecutive days of losses on Thursday and eventually ending the week 0.4 per cent lower.

In Japan, shares fell to their lowest level since early June on political concerns, with the Nikkei 225 ending with a decline of 2.5 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Far East, shares fell in Hong Kong and South Korea, although THEY were generally higher elsewhere.

It was a quiet week for bonds, with the FTSE All stocks index unchanged, leaving 10-year gilt yields at 5.04 per cent.

The spike in oil prices last week saw Brent crude rising to just under $38 a barrel, its highest level since early June.

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