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The Independent Online
The best-performing stock in the FT-SE 100 index last week was Commercial Union, which rose 9.2 per cent. The company announced at the end of the previous week that it bought a French insurance broker and a majority stake in a life insurer from Compagnie de Suez. This will increase the proportion of the company's premium income derived from life insurance and pension sales. This is seen as faster-growing and likely to produce more stable returns. Towards the end of last week, the shares also rose on speculation that the company could be taken over.

Reuters was the second best-performing stock on the FT-SE 100, gaining 9 per cent after the company gave an upbeat presentation of demand for its 3000 information product. The company has nearly 18,000 orders for the system since its launch last autumn and hopes to sell 30,000 units by the year end. Installations have been slow but analysts were reassured that the company would catch up with demand.

The worst-performing stock on the index was BRITISH AEROSPACE, which fell 3.8 per cent. The shares were affected after US company Boeing reported lower than expected earnings, fuelling concern about BAE's own prospects. Costs have risen as production has been stepped up to meet soaring demand for jetliners.