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The week ahead ...


Bank Holiday: but not in East Timor where people vote to quit Indonesia. Last week of summer doldrums before the company reporting season opens in earnest next week. Also, it's World Children Day. So, remember to check if you have any.


House price, consumer confidence, consumer credit and money supply figures should all indicate gathering high-street boom - and inflation worries. Such things used to be managed on a political cycle to maximise the feelgood factor just before a general election. If this is still the case then we are peaking too soon. Or there's a general election next week. Third- quarter figures from Scoot, which has recently issued pounds 18m worth of stock in the US, riding the e-commerce wave. One day it may show a decent profit. But not this time. James Finlay, the company that sells tea to China, to report. Prices are being held up by bad Kenya harvests, and threatened by Russian market's collapse: consumers there are understandably switching from tea to vodka in droves.


CMG, a big IT supplier, to report: cash-flow boost soon from a fat contract to supply all DTI's computing needs. Perkins Foods to report: the chilled foods firm has been expanding in Europe - bad luck as profits have been hit by unfavourable exchange rate and Belgium dioxin scare, so forecasts downgraded. But no firm, surely, can lose money in chilled foods for long.


Sema, holder of a pounds 305m contract to supply computers to the DSS Benefits Agency, to report. Balance sheet looks strong and Sema is bathed in glory for beating IBM to $500m contract to supply computing to the Sydney Olympics. Putative European Commissioners to give evidence in Brussels to prove they're not corrupt, are at least as clever as Neil Kinnock etc.


US employment and earnings figures: any further fall in jobless, or big leap in earnings, could trigger an interest rate rise that will, of course, spread worldwide - just as UK consumers are piling on the debt.

The week's silly seasons ...

SUMMER: Swarms of man-eating sharks attack British holiday beaches. BA announces launch of British Spaceways division with flights from the star system, A-ling-450K, to the Millennium Dome. Brokers go on holiday. Internet stocks soar.

AUTUMN: Swarms of killer leaves fall causing train crashes and national blocked-drain scandal/hysteria. EasyJet undercuts BA on popular intergalactic routes. Brokers come back from holiday. Internet stocks crash.

WINTER: Swarms of man-eating mutant killer Robin Red Breasts seen on GM-trial farms. Virgin offers "Major Tom" travel (BA prop-aganda unit rubbishes service as being like "floating in a tin can, far above Earth"). Brokers on winter break. Internet stocks soar.

SPRING: Swarms of man-eating Y2K bugs, released on 1 Jan, breed and begin to devour large buildings. Ryan Air cancels plans for one-way Dublin-Uranus economy service. Brokers stranded in ski-resorts as Y2K bugs disable electronic engine management on their BMWs. Internet companies disappear in a puff of smoke. Rioting in the streets. Most major cities in flames. Eddie George kits himself out like Mad Max. End of civilisation as we know it.

Financial news in brief

From RT's consumer services department, a weekly bench test, value for money guide to the financial pages. This week: Money Observer versus Prediction

Item: Money Observer Prediction

Price pounds 3.25 pounds 2.10

No of pages 116 84

Price per page 2.80p 2.50p

No of pics of 0 1 Nostradamus last week

No of pics of Christopher 1 0 Clarke (CEO of WIC)

No of pics of 50 (approx) 50 (approx) fund managers/ clairvoyants

Featured online Psychic Sadie - advice/helplines phone-based palm reading plus free lottery ticket

Featured Fimbra The Guild of Pagans; professional/ The Shining Light trade organisations Society (Knutsford)

Attitude to stock Cautiously Taurus in the market bullish ascendant

% of content that 12.4% (Gartmore has 0% (as a psychic I was news to me added a high-yield knew the entire corporate bond content before I to its portfolio) picked it up)

% of content 4.32% (RBS is 2.3% (The worth knowing offering pounds 2,000 Rosicrucians are still interest-free in business) overdraft)

p/e (punt/ 100/1 1/100 earnings) ratio

RT value index 2.366 0.666