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UK EQUITY MARKET INSIGHTS

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The UK equity market has been in more buoyant mood of late and on Friday the FT-SE 100 index challenged its 1995 hi...
The UK equity market has been in more buoyant mood of late and on Friday the FT-SE 100 index challenged its 1995 high of 3,109.9. However, with continued turbulence on the currency markets, (sterling fell to another all time low against the German DM on Friday), the index closed 4.8 points down at 3,089.3.

However, this week there is still reason to expect the UK equity market to behave more optimistically, reflecting good news on company profits and dividends, revealed as the 1994 year-end reporting season gets into full swing. Company results have generally been much better than forecast.

One cautionary note for the UK equity market this week is the economic news to be released which includes the minutes of the latest monetary meeting between chancellor Kenneth Clarke and Bank of England governor Eddie George to be released tomorrow. The February retail price index, giving the latest update on inflationary pressure, is released on Thursday.

Results due this week:

Today the Prudential, the UK's largest life insurer, is expected to report 1994 profits of between £582m and £650m, from 1993's £589m. Growth is expected to have come primarily from the company's motor and domestic insurance services.

Guiness is expected to report a modest rise in pre-tax profits from £875m in 1993 to about £905m in 1994 when it reports on Thursday. Like all in the brewing industry, Guiness has found it hard to raise prices or increase volumes over the last year.

United Newspapers, publisher of the Daily and Sunday Express, also report on Thursday and profits are expected to come at the top end of expectations, at about £140m.

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