But troubles at one of our leading supermarket groups aside, shares have remained remarkably buoyant, helped by Wall Street pushing even higher as August drew to a close. Last month was good for the benchmark US index – the S&P 500 – which rose nearly 4%, the best monthly result for half a year. Putting my cynical hat on, I have to wonder how it achieved this in the face of continued rumblings in eastern Ukraine.
Our own FTSE 100 Share Index remains tantalisingly close to its all time high, but it will have to go some if it is to emulate the S&P 500. It started the month in a more subdued frame of mind, perhaps because US markets were closed for Labour Day on 1st September. There has also been little for investors to get their teeth into in the way of company or economic news. As the month of September progresses, this will surely change.
We have the regular quarterly revision of the constituents of the FTSE 100 Share Index in the first week of September. This index is popularly believed to be made up of the 100 largest companies listed on the UK stock market. In fact it comprises 100 of the 110 largest companies, by market capitalisation. Only if you rank 90 or above are you automa tically included, while you are only dropped if you fall below the 110th largest company. A degree of discretion is allowed between 91 and 110 so that constant climbing in or dropping out is avoided.
In the past there have been some dramatic comings and goings – particularly at the height of the dot com boom and subsequent collapse. The changes on this occasion are likely to be of a more limited nature, with just one or two companies expected to leave, to be replaced with insurer Direct Line and possibly the new Dixons Carphone Warehouse. If that is the sum of the excitement as autumn gets under way, I will be relieved.