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News Comment
a personal view of the week's news from Erithacus

30th December 2001 

As the year draws to a close, Stock Markets show every sign of ending on an optimistic note. News that OPEC was cutting oil production in an attempt to raise the price of crude and had persuaded five non-OPEC countries to do the same, boosted oil company prices, and a general optimism about next yearís economic outlook boosted sentiment.

The FTSE100 finished the week up at 5242.4, a three-week high and having gained ground in the last four trading sessions. This represents a loss of 980.1 points on its opening value this year (6222.5), but 1023.4 points higher than its low during the year (4219). Traders seemed generally happy with what they described as a "mid-position" for the leading index.

Economists also seem to be taking an optimistic view, with retail sales showing an annual growth rate of 7% and little sign of flagging. Although manufacturing has suffered in the last year with a 3% decline in the last 12 months, unemployment remains low. Many believe that the UK is attracting investment from overseas, and is seen as the safest haven for money in a particularly unstable world economy. They also point to historical data showing the UK always "leading the way down" in previous world recessions, and believe it is highly significant that on this occasion the UKís economic growth has held up well in comparison with others.

"The UK looks to be the strongest placed of the worldís seven biggest economies," said Jeremy Hawkins of Bank of America.

Some Stock Market analysts are more cautious, however, with many pointing at the high level of personal debt in the UK which could create problems when the rest of the world economy picks up and interest rates rise. They are also nervous of the effect world events may have on Stock Market sentiment, and expect highly volatile prices in UK shares over the next few months.


Itís cold. Itís very cold. No doubt itís the result of "global warming".

Why am I surprised? The British weather is traditionally unpredictable, but being an Englishman, I have to talk about it.

In reality, the "unexpected" cold weather across the UK is not particularly extreme, despite being described in the Press as "the big freeze". Of course it has brought chaos to many areas, with most of the population being totally unprepared for it Ė as we always are. I still find it incredible that a few inches of snow and a bit of ice causes half the country to grind to a standstill and finds individuals and public utilities completely unable to cope. All the "experts" tell us we will experience extremely cold, snowy weather at least once every ten years, yet when it happens we stare at the peculiar white stuff as though we had never seen it before, incapable (apparently) of understanding whatís going on.

Ah well. Thatís what being English is all about, I suppose. 


Is Tony Blair going to "show his teeth"?

I see he has just announced that 2002 will be a year of "unprecedented change and reform", and that this upheaval will be "unsettling" for those who work in and use the education, health, transport and court systems. I think that means just about everyone?

Still, his best line was: 
"It is time for the communities to fight back and for the decent values of the majority to prevail."
Absolutely right, of course. It reminds me of something......... "Back to basics", wasnít it?


And finally for this week, Iím tempted to mention the Euro.

No. Iíve changed my mind. Itís not worth mentioning.


30th December 2001                        



Links to previous news comments:

1-December-01
6-Oct-01
29-Sept-01
15-Sept-2001
8-Sept-2001
1-Sept-2001
25-August-2001
18-August-2001
27-July 2001
14-July-2001
7-July-2001
30-June-2001
23-June 2001
16-June-2001
10-June-2001
03-June-2001
26-May-2001
19-May-2001
12-May-2001
05-May-2001
21-April-2001
14-April-2001
07-April-2001
31-March-2001
24-March-2001
18-March-2001
11-March-2001
04-March-2001
24-Feb-2001
18-Feb-2001
10-Feb-2001
03-Feb-2001
27-Jan-2001
20-Jan-2001
13-Jan-2001
06-Jan-2001
30-Dec-2000

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