As we went to press, a committee of the UK’s FTSE Footsie Financial Times Stock Exchange Index was considering the prospect of moving computer sector companies out from their current place in the Support Services category into their very own sector. The move would have the effect of increasing investment in UK computer companies, giving fund managers more freedom to choose which companies to invest in. Currently, many are restricted by Asset Allocation Committee rules which result in them only being permitted to invest in a set number of shares per sector. That means the larger companies with the greatest liquidity attract most of the investors. In the UK’s now-shrunken computer industry, even the larger computer firms such as Sema Group, Logica Plc and CMG Plc are dwarfed by support and services giants such as security and pest control company Rentokil Plc, the largest in the sector. ICL Plc, the UK’s largest computer company, currently doesn’t have a listing following its acquisition by Fujitsu Ltd. The usual rules over creating a new sector specify that it must represent more than 1% of the sector it currently resides in – and computer companies currently make up only 0.8% of the support services sector. But the joint owners of the FTSE – the London Stock Exchange and the Financial Times – appear to be ready to bend the rules. Fund managers themselves, faced with re-programming all their portfolios, are said to be less keen. The most likely outcome is that the committee will create a sub-sector within services and support and watch it for a while. It’s all a far cry from the success of Nasdaq. On October 28, Nasdaq became the first US stock exchange to exceed one billion shares traded in a day, reaching 1.37 billion shares traded (CI No 3,279), and as the millennium approaches the market anticipates that figure will rise.
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