STOCK MARKETS - THE WEEK REVIEWED

The rally in global markets sputtered last week as caution and concern crept back into a picture that had been dominated by optimism about corporate profits.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the five-day period down 1.29 per cent and below the 7000-mark. Shares of Intel, Oracle and other computer-related companies led the decline, hurt by concern that their high prices may no longer reflect their immediate earnings potential.

In London, the FT-SE 100 ended the week down 0.1 per cent, hampered by losses in Centrica and Barclays.

The insurance and life insurance stocks were also some of the week's worst performers. The six life insurers have risen 12.6 per cent so far this year so investors were not surprised to see weakness in a market setback.

In Paris, the benchmark CAC 40 Index fell 2.23 per cent, falling four days out of five after reaching an intraday record high on Monday. The worst performers were Sanofi, Eridania Beghin-Say SA and Pernod Ricard SA. Construction and oil companies also performed poorly.

Indexes also closed the week lower in Spain, Italy, Belgium and Austria.

One of the few equity bright spots last week was in Tokyo, where the Nikkei 250 rose 1.67 per cent. Banking, construction and real-estate shares were the best performers, lifted by news that the government may buy property banks hold as collateral on bad loans but have been unable to sell during Japan's real-estate crisis.

Honda Motor rose 3.01 per cent on the week. The automaker got a boost on news that third-quarter profits more than tripled over last year.

Indexes also rose in Greece, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Copyright: IOS & Bloomberg

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