World Markets Languish in April

May 5, 2002 ( - Conflicting US economic data, showing encouraging GDP growth but disappointing consumer confidence and durable goods orders, confounded investors in April and sent the FTSE World Index down by 3.4%.

Still, there were some healthy performances posted over the month, particularly in the emerging markets, despite fears of contagion from troubled Argentina. In fact April’s five top performers in dollar terms, are in this category.


Indonesia was the month’s top performer, returning 16%, on news that the Paris Club, expressing confidence in the country’s plans for economic reform and privatization, would reschedule its crippling debt payments.

Indonesia’s performance was also buoyed by the strength of tire maker Gajah Tunggal, and car manufacturer Astra international, the month’s best-performing stocks.

Hot on its heels was Russia, which, being a major oil producer, benefited from the upswing in commodity prices, and increased 14.3%.

Also lifted by commodity prices, through its exposure to gold, South Africa increased by 13.8%. Stellar performance from South African companies, Naspers and African Bank invest, which surged 59.2% and 49.9% respectively, also gave the market a boost.

The results of Hungary’s election, in which the charismatic Viktor Orban failed to win a second term, ignited hope for reform and spurred the market to return 11.1%.

Bad, and Ugly

Finland and Sweden were among the worst performers, losing 18.6% and 9.6% respectively, according to the FTSE World Market Review. These Nordic markets were beaten down by the weak stock market prices of telecommunication giants Nokia and Ericsson, major components of each country’s index.

Also on the list was Argentina, still struggling to find the path out of its financial woes. Its plummeting peso, chaotic banking system and the departure of its finance minister sent the market reeling down by 12.26%.

Israel followed, the market reflecting the country’s political and social upheaval, lost 8.6% of its value, while in the US, conflicting economic news and ongoing concerns on accounting issues took there toll on the world’s biggest market.

The five worst performing stocks over the month, Enterasys Networks, Verisign, Worldcom Group, Tyco International and McData Corp, all hailed from the US.