The Index fell 2.0% with equity markets headed south in the US, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, FTSE said. February’s performance was the second straight decline (See FTSE Suffers Gloomy ’03 Start ).
Of the five best performing countries, Venezuela topped the list with an 18.2% gain while Argentina came in at the second spot with a 12.8% increase. Rounding out the top five with increases were Turkey, 10.7%; Russia, 10.2% and Indonesia, 4.7%. FTSE said both Venezuela and Argentina were rebounding from earlier losses sparked by political and economic concerns.
Meanwhile, FTSE said Taiwan brought up the rear with an 11.7% loss, followed closely by Norway with a 10.4% deficit. Belgium, -10.4%; Egypt, -9.3%; and the Netherlands, -8.2%; rounded out the bottom five. FTSE said Taiwan’s large electronics sector was under serious pressure from the global economic slowdown..
Sector performance was mixed in February with gainers in tobacco (2.0%), technology (1.5%), steel (2.0%), and engineering (2.6%). Chemicals was among the biggest losers for the month (-5.3%).
The two best individual stock performers were both from Indonesia: Lippo Bank (72.1%) and the cement company Indocement Tunggal Prakrasa (34.6%), which announced it would launch a share buy-back. Transportadora de Gas del Sur (31.8%) was a beneficiary of investors’ renewed enthusiasm for the Argentine market.
Ahold (-69.9%) was the month’s worst performer, but it was closely followed by Invensys, (-66.7%) the UK electronics group, which unveiled a profits warning. Shares in Pan Fish, the Norwegian fish-farming group, had another terrible month as a financial reconstruction drastically diluted the interests of existing shareholders. And Numico, the Dutch food and vitamins group, fell in response to fears about the health effects of the nutritional supplement Ephedrine.