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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 19:52 GMT
Four-year-old beats City expert
Tia Laverne Roberts
Tia beat both the private investor and the astrologer
Four-year-old Tia Laverne Roberts has beaten an experienced private investor and a financial astrologer in a week-long contest to see who could make the most (or lose the least) money on the London Stock Exchange.

The youngster was consistently ahead in the National Science week experiment where the three were each given a fictional 5,000 to invest on the markets for a week.

At 11am on Friday, when the competition closed, the four-year-old had lost 231, as against 498 for the financial astrologer and 360 for the investor.

Close of competition Friday 11am
Child down 231
Astrologer down 498
Private investor down 360

"Everyone's starting off with the same sum of money, they can only invest in the FTSE 100, so it's a kind of level playing field... we're looking at short-term predictions here," said Dr Wiseman, the psychologist behind the experiment.

"My prediction is that all three of them will actually make a small loss," he said before the contest began.

The shareholders had one chance to change their portfolios on Tuesday at 1200 GMT.

Trading in

Financial astrologer's choice
BOC 1,428
BAE Systems 1,014
Unilever 1,162
Pearson 898

And both the child and the astrologer chose to do just that, although stock investor Mark Goodson, who is a lawyer by trade but who is an active investor on the side, held firm with his original choices, which included three volatile tech and telecoms shares - Vodafone, Marconi and Cable & Wireless.

Christeen Skinner, the astrologer, uses the movement of the heavens to predict the market, by looking at the 'birthdate' when companies were formed and then drawing up an astrological chart.

Investor's choice
Vodafone 1,908
Marconi 871
Cable & Wireless 916
Prudential 945

She ditched three of her original shares on Tuesday (Baltimore Technology, Vodafone and Emap) and traded them in for chemicals group BOC, BAE Systems and Unilever.

Her biggest loser, out of her original choices, was Baltimore Technology, which, when she sold it at midday on Tuesday had lost 37.5p from the price she bought it at - 210p.

Tia ahead

The child, Tia Laverne, proudly boasted that she was going to "make my mummy a fortune by picking the winners".

Four-year-old's choice
Amvescap 1,130
Bank of Scotland 1,210
Bass 1,249
Halifax 1,180

But her stocks were chosen entirely at random. The names of the different shares were written on fake money, fluttered over the youngster's head, and "eventually she grabbed four," according to Dr Wiseman.

She kept just Bank of Scotland out of her original choices and on Tuesday traded Old Mutual, Sainsbury and drinks group Diageo in for Amvescap, Halifax and Bass.

Four-year-old Tia was consistently ahead throughout.

One day after starting the experiment, last Friday, she was down 11, beating both the expert (down 178) and the astrologer (down 294).

But the private investor, Mark Goodson, at least, has put on a brave face throughout.

"It's not an investment, it's a gamble," he said at the beginning, "I fully expect the four-year-old to win".

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See also:

16 Mar 01 | Business
Can a child beat a City analyst?
14 Mar 01 | Business
Why are the stock markets falling?
14 Mar 01 | Business
Where next for investors?
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