London Market: Stocks on a rollercoaster

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The Independent Online
UK STOCKS are expected to be mixed this week as US stocks extend losses because of concern about a global economic slowdown, offsetting prospects of buying by investors who think prices have fallen too far. Bonds are expected to rise, as concern about the Russian debt default attracts investors to fixed-income securities.

Stocks are likely to see big rises and falls, "and you don't know where it's going to be at the end of the week", said Tim Gregory, a fund manager at Gartmore Capital Management.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the benchmark FT-SE 100 stock index suffered its worst three-day slide since 1987, down 7.1 per cent. Over the week as a whole, the index fell 4.16 per cent, ending 119.10 points lower, at 5,249.4.

Stock markets around the world slumped as Russia's sliding currency and debt default spurred concern that the turmoil will spread to other emerging markets, hobbling the outlook for corporate profits worldwide.

"The volatility we are seeing is quite astonishing," Mr Gregory said. "There is definitely some good value being offered by some quality UK equities."

Investors will look to Russia for evidence that the Government is moving to shore up its slumping economy. "We're going to be totally dominated by external forces," Mr Gregory said.

Eyes will be on engineering companies, as Senior Engineering Group, Meggitt and Amec all release first-half earnings on Thursday. The companies are likely to show that manufacturing is suffering from slowing global demand and the strong pound. The pound has gained 2.5 per cent against currencies of its major trading partners in the past eight days.

Bonds are likely to be supported by "the ongoing problems in Russia and the prospect of other emerging markets following suit", said Andrew Snowball, an economist at Julius Baer Investments.

Gilts lost early gains on Friday because "valuations looked a little bit stretched" at record low yields, said John Kelly, an investment director at Barclays Global Investors Funds. Even so, "the underlying safe-haven theme won't change soon".

The benchmark 7.25 per cent, 10-year UK government bond pared gains of as much as 29/32, or 91 pence per 100-pound bond, ending 6/32 higher at 114 3/32. At one point, the yield touched 5.21 percent, its lowest in more than 30 years.