Economic worries across the board

A year ago it was the dot.coms, then came the telecoms and then the accounting scandals and now it is the turn of financial institutions to come under the scrutiny of the stock markets. In the last few weeks insurance and banking companies have been hammered with massive drops in share price hitting companies such as Zurich Financial, HVB, Skandia, Aegon, Swiss Life and Axa. Oddly enough the best performers in recent days have been the telecoms which have been bouncing back from the hammering they received with France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica amongst the best performers.

The markets are decidedly panicky with shares prices tumbling at the slightest hint of trouble with companies such as Shell, Barclays and Allianz all taking bid hits after announcements. Allianz, one of Germany's biggest companies and a sponsor of Williams, has seen its share price halved since the Spring. Deutsche Bank has seen its value drop by 24%.

This is the time of year at which Formula 1 teams are going to companies looking for sponsorship and the feeling in F1 circles is that there is not going to be much luck at the moment. The effect of that will be felt later in the year when teams have to look at their budgetary situations for 2003.

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