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Friday, August 28, 1998 Published at 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK

Business: The Economy

A wild week on the world's markets

The asset price bubble is bursting

The last week of August was a bad week for the world's financial markets. All around the globe, share and currency markets were in turmoil triggered by the devaluation of Russia's rouble.

Unlike past weeks, when a day of market trouble was invariably followed by a strong rebound, this time investors saw billions of dollars melting away, but no bottom of the market.

Nonetheless, it was a rollercoaster with share prices swinging violently up and down.


[ image: Yet another bad hair day on Frankfurt's stock exchange]
Yet another bad hair day on Frankfurt's stock exchange
The week started on a good note, despite the dramatic plunge the Friday before. Shares prices appeared to recover, rising on Monday by 1.4% then on Tuesday by 1.8%.

But then the FTSE-100 index began to falter, dropping 1.93% on Wednesday and a massive 3.2% on Thursday. Finally on Friday, the Footsie lost another 2.2%.

On the week London's share index was down 4.1%. But compared to July 21, the market's all-time high at 6179 points, the FTSE 100 is down 810.5 points or 13%.

New York

[ image: Selling fast and hard]
Selling fast and hard
Wall Street followed a similar pattern. Monday saw a small fall on the New York Stock Exchange, followed by a little rally on Tuesday, but then prices were driven down.

Heavy trading volume confirmed the trend: Wall Street was in for another correction - 445 points or 5% on the week.

New York's main share index, the Dow Jones, is now 1,286 points below its July 17 record high of 9,337.97, a drop of 13.8%.


Germany's main stockmarket was particularly hit by the crisis in Russia. German banks are Russia's largest lenders, and shares in Frankfurt had a rough ride.

The Dax index lost 7.8% on the week - and a whopping 18% from the market's all-time high in July.


Where Wall Street goes, Paris follows say the traders, and past week made no difference. The CAC-40 index was down 234 points - 5.7%.

Eastern Europe

[ image: Warsaw's market is on the lowest level since mid-1996]
Warsaw's market is on the lowest level since mid-1996
Emerging markets are deeply affected by the crisis in Russia. Many investors see them as the next domino in the economic crisis which first ravaged Asia and is now troubling Russia.

Hungary was particularly hard hit. The Budapest stock market lost 28.1% within just one week. One trader said: "Basically, the market now is a casino."

Czech shares were a bit less troubled. Some traders say the sluggishness of the market during recent months is now showing benefits, as prices did not drop as fast as on other markets. The broader PX-50 index was down 15.27% on the week.

In Poland, the Warsaw stock exchange plunged by 17.5% within seven days, to the lowest level since mid-1996.

Ukraine's fledgeling share market, however, is now practically non-existent. The country is Russia's neighbour and main trading partner. The Kiev stock market is at an all-time low, and there are hardly any buyers left.


Japan is the other big worry on investor's minds who wonder whether the country's government will manage to institute tough financial reforms.

The Nikkei index lost 1,382 points on the week or 9%, yet another abysmal performance. And there is no end in sight.

Hong Kong

The Hang Seng is in trouble. Massive intervention by the territory's administration is distorting the true market situation, and that is the only reason why the Hang Seng managed a small rise during the past week.

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