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MARKETS & DATA – Markets surge with urge to merge.

UK stockmarket[QQ] A less pessimistic assessment of the extent to which economic slowdown will be imported from Asia helped to push equities to new highs in March. Further corporate activity, such as the merger between Commercial Union and General Accident and a takeover battle for Energy Group, offset some of the disappointments over the rapid disintegration of the Glaxo/SmithKline Beecham merger. Overseas equities Stockmarkets in Europe and the US followed a similar pattern to the UK – an increasingly positive tone to growth forecasts spurred markets to record levels. Japanese equities have failed to add to the gains made in January’s rally: recent short-term movements have mirrored swings in investors’ confidence that the government will supplement the fiscal stimulus already announced. Interest rates The outlook for UK interest rates remains finely balanced. The Monetary Policy Committee made no change at its March meeting, but minutes of the previous meeting indicated that only Bank of England governor Eddie George’s casting vote had prevented a rise in February. Exchange rates With the UK still seen as the major economy most likely to raise interest rates, sterling was well supported and headed back towards the DM3 level. The Japanese yen lost some of this year’s gains on disappointment over the scale of the planned boost to domestic demand. Market data supplied by Britannia Investment Managers. Tel. 0141 248 2000. Expressions of opinion contained within this document are subject to change. Britannia Investment Managers Limited is regulated in the conduct of investment business by IMRO.

 SURVEYOR: EMU FLIES, BROWSERS SURF, SURGEONS CUT BIG BIRD Number of times more mentions of "Emu" in UK publications in 1997 compared with three years earlier.          65 Source: Reuters Business Briefing BIG BUG Proportion of organisations that will fail to make their IT systems millennium-compliant                            1-in-6 Their share of UK GDP                                            38% Source: Taskforce 2000 (0171) 562 7650 Citicorp's millennium-bug costs (1997-1999)                      $600m Citicorp's annual technology spend                               $7.5bn Source: The Wall Street Journal Europe BIG BROWSER Proportion of Internet traffic that relates to recruitment                                                   10% Monthly growth in Internet usage in Britain                      10-15% Number of people in the UK expected to be Internet users by end-1998                                                9 million Source: Robert Walters plc (0171) 379 3333 Taking the strain Estimated annual cost to the UK economy of workplace stress (staff turnover, sickness)                                £1.3bn Cost in terms of lost productivity to the UK economy of out-dated methods of hernia surgery                           £455m Sources: Kennedys solicitors (0171) 638 3688; The SPA Partnership (0171) 240 7711 Credit risk where it's due Proportion of businesses with high-risk credit ratings in the Southeast                                         23.2% Ditto, in UK as a whole                                          18.9% Ditto, in Northern Ireland                                       10.4% Source: Dun & Bradstreet (01494) 422000 Murphy, Murphy & Murphy Proportion of Irishmen living in Britain who earn more than £30,000 a year                                1-in-6 Proportion of British men who earn more than £30,000 a year                                         1-in-9 Source: The Irish Post Working class UK private sector's share of employment in 1997                  80.9% Ditto, in 1981                                                   70.7% Number of self-employed people in 1997                           3.3m Ditto, in 1981                                                   2.3m Source: Office for National Statistics (0171) 533 6363 We want information Proportion of finance managers who claim that the finance department has primary responsibility for managing information                                             75% Proportion of IT managers who claim that the IT department has primary responsibility for managing information                                             60% Proportion of marketing managers who claim that the marketing department has primary responsibility for managing information                                         31% Source: Interactive Information Timewatch Number of financial quarters between now and the launch of the euro                                           3 Number of financial quarters between now and year 2000           7

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