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a personal view of the week's news from Erithacus
The FTSE100 share index in London finished the week at 5342.1, its lowest for three weeks but still ahead of this yearís lowest closing level of 5260.5. Although the UK markets were dragged lower by falls in the U.S., with the Dow Jones index losing 151.7 points on Friday and the Nasdaq Composite index down 63.31, persistent worries about the UKís economic outlook had the greatest effect on investor sentiment. Telecoms and pharmaceuticals were worst hit, with Vodaphone losing 2.7% on Friday to finish close to a three-year low at 127.5, and both GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca dropping nearly 2%.
All is not doom and gloom, however. The "leading indicator" from
NTC Research that projects future economic activity and focuses on identifying
turning points in the business cycle, reached a high point in July which
suggested a significant upturn for the thrid quarter of this year and economic
growth strengthening at least until April 2002.
Still, I guess it made a good sensationalist story, didnít it?
Now thereís a headline most of the newspapers missed.
Not quite as dramatic as it sounds, perhaps, but biologists studying droppings from the Greater Noctule bat (Nyctalus lasiopterus) have found evidence that the bat eats large numbers of migratory birds. The evidence, apparently, did not take much unravelling: the droppings contained birdsí feathers.
It appears that this particularly large bat swoops on migratory birds as they fly through its Mediterranean territory at night, and being much more agile than the birds, as well as being larger, has no problem in catching and overpowering them. Reports from the Spanish scientists who made the discovery are unclear, but it appears they believe the bats have changed from their traditional diet of insects relatively recently. Worrying. What will they decide to eat next?
But scientists donít always get it right, particularly when studying bats.
In July of this year startled scientists in Somerset tracking bats that had
been tagged with radio transmitters suddenly saw the bats moving at water-level
in the Kennet and Avon Canal. As they watched the tracking equipment, they had
no doubt the bats were in fact swimming.
18th August 2001
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