Commodity news in a nutshell

Oil was turgid, but perked up ahead of the Opec meeting. Aluminium and lead were soft at the start of the week, but firmed up as a result of colder weather.

Mercury contracted. Nickel, gloomy in recent weeks, is cheerful again. Silver is shiny and diamonds positively sparkled on the New York market. Iron remained dull. Copper is useful and plutonium dangerous. Plastics were synthetic. Rubber was bouncy all week.

Cheese was smelly; soya beans started off bland and ended up powdery and tasteless. Cabbage started off firm but turned disgusting. Tomatoes were squishy. Tobacco was carcinogenic and most other chemicals were toxic. Palladium started off obscure then became confusing. Cotton was soft and pork bellies revolting.

Money was scarce, life was cheap and, in most markets, people were sold short.

Four apologetic commissioners

EDITH CRESSON, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER. "Very sorry, I might have made the odd mistake. At least we were not racist about it."

SIR PAUL CONDON, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER. "It's a fair cop. Institutionalised racism. But everyone's at it - I mean look at the City. We'll do better in future. It's not like we practice apartheid."

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONER. "Let us all hold hands, pray and apologise to each other for everything. I mean we are only human. People make mistakes. They are not like film heroes."

COMMISSIONER GORDON, SQUARE-JAWED BOSS OF GOTHAM CITY. "OK, Batman, you may have unorthodox methods and a cut-down version of a Ku Klux Klan outfit, but together we can beat the Joker [Neil Kinnock]; the Penguin [Sir Leon Brittan] and their leader, Wine Lake Woman, and put an end to their capers."


Gobsmacking facts, priceless advice and crucial information to regurgitate at job interviews and impress people at dinner parties. This week culled from Marketing magazine.

* "Getting ahead in business takes many qualities. But if you know more than your rivals, you'll have a head start."

* Lilt is "number one in the tropical soft-drink flavours market in the UK".

* Dixons in the Strand "is a busy shop. There are plenty of staff on hand dealing with the many customers."

* People who buy expen-sive aeroplane tickets tend to be "cash rich and time poor".

* Q: Will the single curr-ency affect the advertising business? A: "Probably not. At least not yet. But there is a chance that it will."

* "Television advertising is a significant cost element in the business model of many advertisers."

* United Biscuits has printed a picture of a biscuit on its annual report "to identity the firm more strongly with its biscuit business".

What's happening this week


Monument Oil and Gas to report. Executive chairman Tony Craven Walker has a taste for excitement. Long in the shadow of fellow oil independent Enterprise, his company has been selling stakes in the North Sea and investing in dangerous countries: Algeria, Colombia and Russia. He's also in partnership with the jolly ayatollahs of Iran and the mafia-infested "governments" of ex-Soviet horror stories. But operations in the economic disaster area of Liverpool Bay have been scaled down after arguments with partners, law suits, etc. Stability is provided by gas-supply contracts with PowerGen. But heavy kidnap and ransom insurance bills are a factor. Not a stock for the faint hearted. Also growth and balance of payments numbers.


Oil is fantastic. Capital Industries makes some very interesting plastic packaging - ie, crude oil in a modified form for you to pay to throw in the bin - and will report a year of steady progress. Markets to be underwhelmed by the day's inflation figures. Stability might be sexy, but nostalgia is not what it used to be. Opec meets in Vienna - once thrill a minute, who gives a toss now?


Barratt Developments interims. Safe as, er, houses - especially as nuclear families are splitting into-one parent protons, dumped dad positrons etc, all needing roomy split-level bungalets with extensive gardens. So at last somebody's found a way to turn sociology into money. Flextech also to report. Nightmare company destined to own the BBC one day. You can tell it's a winner because nobody expects to see a penny in profit for years, but everyone piles in anyway.


Colt Telecom to report. Headless chicken situation for homely phone operator, wildly lashing out to get a foothold in Europe before the tidal wave of American money arrives to swamp European telecoms.


Leicester City FC to report. Board to sell all players, probably, to pay for pounds 25m leisure complex cunningly disguised as a football stadium.

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