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The week ahead ...


Interims from Lavendon, who hire out those retractable platforms used to change light-bulbs in very high streetlights. It also operates Skylift, which is used to position cameras pointlessly a quarter of a mile above the pitch at football matches.


Interims from Dialog, the debt-laden computer software company. It bought Knight Ridder Information a couple of years ago and is still suffering from the after effects as almost all profits go into servicing debt. Fujitsu has come to the rescue with a software supply contract, which should make the books look a little better next time round.


GCSE results. Expect new record pass rate in wake of similar massive dilution of A levels last week. Clubhaus, which operates the Carnoustie Open golf tournament, to provide interims. Debt has been melted away by a recent bond issue. Millwall to hold EGM. Their slogan: "no one likes us. We don't care"


Interims from Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine people. The Serbs' failure to shoot down many jet-bombers may well be a disappointment, since RR- powered Tornados dropped out of the skies on a regular basis during their last major outing - the Gulf War. The company makes the RB-199 for the Tornado; supplies the EJ-200 engine for the Eurofighter; and, in all probability, the R2-D2 to George Lucas industries. The civilian order book looks strong, unless BA finally goes under.


In light of soaring trade gap, today sees some highly amusing personal income and expenditure stats from the US.

The week's world's biggest ...

WORLD'S BIGGEST BANK: to be created in Japan by the merger of the Industrial Bank of Tokyo with Dai-Ichi Kangyo and Fuji Banks. Just the thing for funnelling money into the ...

WORLD'S BIGGEST OVERDRAFT: US trade deficit, set to reach $250bn (pounds 154.5bn) for the year and equivalent to the combined value of all traded goods and services in the rest of the world at some point in the near future. But this is a lot less embarrassing than the ...

WORLD'S BIGGEST COCK-UP: the Iridium Satellite Phone concept which went bust last week with debts of $4bn and around 10,000 customers. The company planned to allow people to make mobile-phone calls to and from any point on earth (90 per cent of which is uninhabited). Which was a lot less sensible than creating the ...

WORLD'S BIGGEST EASTER EGG: produced in 1975 in Vegreville, Canada, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Mounties, and unveiled two years later by the World's Biggest Idiot, Prince Philip.

Commodity news ... in brief

Hold the front page - there's been a bumper crop of coffee in Brazil, where there's always been a lot of it. Mushrooms are booming in the US, particularly "speciality" mushrooms, whatever they may be, which hit a new high with a 36 per cent price rise on steady volumes. Crude oil started the week floppy, on the back of troubling news for Opec but ended up firm, after sensing a positive underlying market trend. Base metals were heavy, energy was pretty useful for people who wanted their TV sets to work, livestock were slaughtered and tobacco gave you lung diseases and cancer. Soya was tasteless.

Financial news

From RT's consumer services department, a weekly bench test, value for money guide to the financial pages. This week: The Economist versus Smash Hits

Item: 'The Economist' 'Smash Hits'

Price pounds 2.50 pounds 1.25

No of pages 108 76

Price per page 2.31p 1.64p

No of pics of General 1 0 Franco last week No of pics of Britney 0 10

No of blokes in 1 (Gen Franco) 1 (Shane from funny hats Westlife)

Typical headline The IMF went crazy My mum went crazy when they found out when she heard my how I'd spent their rude lyrics, says pounds 1.4bn loan, says T-Boz from TLC President of Ecuador

Reader offer EIU report "Creating Win Scott Five's tomorrow's leading autographed retail bank" for pounds 425 underpants

Basic editorial There's more to Oh no there isn't stance life than fun

% of content that 63.4% (there are 75.8% (Lisa out of was news to me 10,442,443 goats Steps would most like and 5,454,590 to snog Johnny Depp) camels in Somalia)

% of content 4.32% (there is a 12.3% (Christian of worth knowing taxi shortage in A-1's first ever snog Nepal) lasted 10 hours)

p/e (photo/ 8/1 573/621 earnings) ratio

RT value index 0.2758216 1.8996469