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a personal view from Erithacus
29th November 2003
UK stock market investors and traders had a rollercoaster ride this week as the FTSE100 index soared and then dropped repeatedly, finishing 23.6 points higher than last Friday’s close at 4342.6.
Despite breaking through 4400 three times during the week and briefly touching 4420, the leading UK shares index never really showed anything more than brief moments of real optimism. Some analysts reported that most investors stayed away from either buying or selling, leaving the markets to rely on traders’ buys and sells for most of the movements in the indexes and keeping volumes fairly light. With U.S. investors in holiday mood for the Thanksgiving break there was little direction for investors to follow, but fears of the effect of falls in the value of the U.S. dollar seemed uppermost in investors’ thoughts as the week drew to a close.
Next week is expected to see investors and traders again focus on the level of the dollar, but continued worries over possible terrorist activity and the security situation in Iraq is likely to play a major role in market sentiment. Few analysts expect to see any dramatic rises, and the general feeling seems to be that in the short term prices of shares in the major companies are unlikely to move far from their present levels.
Not wishing to give offence to anyone, of course, it simply seems somehow refreshing in these days when so often "political correctness" is taken to ridiculous extremes that occasionally such complete reversals of normally accepted behaviour can still happen.
Funniest, perhaps, was the righteous indignation of their Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, who severely reprimanded the Czech MPs when they made jokes about their education minister’s breast reduction surgery. Mr Spidla’s comment that the remarks were "absolutely unacceptable and detestable sexist statements" seems to have left his MPs unrepentant. "Men who cannot make a joke like this are not real men," said one after laughing about preferring larger sizes because he had large hands and completely failing to amuse the Prime Minister.
Education minister Petra Buzkova seems to be taking most of it in her stride. "I will not be insisting on an apology," she said, and added, "It would not be sincere anyway."
In a nationwide poll, voters have decided that Chancellor Gordon Brown is on of the UK's sex gods.
He seems quite pleased about it, but I wonder whether he will be quite so impressed when he discovers he shares the honour with Jeremy Paxman and the Dalai Lama?
Or perhaps they are not too impressed to be sharing the honour with him?
"The whole world is mad except thee and me, and I have my doubts about thee."
29th November 2003
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