July 2nd, 2009
05:32 PM GMT
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July 2nd, 2009
10:30 AM GMT
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LONDON, England – Not a good start to the day. Sitting in front of the computer last night I naively decided that the FTSE100 had fallen far enough and so I used some more of my imaginary pot of money to "go long" on it, i.e. I expect it to rise in the next trading session.

I was delighted to find this morning that the FTSE 100 had indeed risen, but was dismayed that my trade had closed out at a loss overnight. I had completely forgotten that as markets can be traded 24 hours a day it is the futures price that determines the bid and offer prices when the real market is closed. The spread between the bid and offer prices tends to widen overnight and my FTSE 100 trade was tripped out by an over-cautious stop loss.

Lesson learned. Must place stop losses far enough away not to get stopped out by normal market movements.

Later in the day I meet Robbie Burns, whose book "The Naked Trader" to some extent provided the inspiration for the "Rookie Trader" series. Personable, calm, witty and great company, Robbie is an inspiration, the perfect antidote to the stress of the adrenalin-fueled trading floors of the past few days.

A former journalist, Robbie has quit the rat race and now makes a very good living trading from his waterside home and through his book he’s willing to show you and me how we could do the same. Robbie has a knack for spotting undervalued or overbought companies and for picking just the right moment to trade them. His trading record is published on his Website for anyone to scrutinize and in my inexperienced view it makes for very impressive reading.

Fortified by tea and toast (toast plays a big part in Robbie’s trading, as you’ll find out if you read his book), Robbie generously takes me through his system for vetting potential trades. He shows me how to find and read a company statement using a system of "traffic lights," how to interpret their profit and loss account and how to find out how weighed down by debt a company is. Once he’s found his potential trades Robbie switches to technical analysis and waits patiently for a buy or sell signal. He’s like an angler watching his line for a bite, but with 20 or more floats on the water at once, not just one or two.

As he talks a penny drops, a light comes on above my head, and I start to grin. Suddenly it all makes sense and for the first time I can see my trading potential. The possibilities are endless. I can do this. I just needed Robbie to put it all into perspective. It’s not rocket science, Robbie explains. Common sense, good money management, a "Mr Spock" mentality and methodical research will pay off.

Invigorated by Robbie’s infectious enthusiasm I head for home, determined to spend every spare moment over the next couple of days coming up with my own list of potential trades ready to cast my own lines onto the water.

 * How does Adrian Finighan fare in his career as a rookie trader? Watch Quest Means Business Monday to Friday: 1800 GMT London, 2000 CET, 0300 HK.

July 2nd, 2009
10:15 AM GMT
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LONDON, England - When I was offered the chance to drive a Tesla Roadster electric car around the streets of London, my first thought was why would I enjoy a souped-up golf cart? It was nothing like that.

The Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car with good handling and acceleration.
The Tesla Roadster is an electric sports car with good handling and acceleration.

I am not an auto enthusiast (I drive a Vauxhall Zafira after all) but in this job I have the great privilege of driving (or being driven in) some great cars.

Last year, I took a Rolls Royce Phantom around the grounds of the company’s plant; Charlie Morgan took me for a spin through the Malvern Hills in one of his family-built cars; and now I have taken a trip in both seats of a Tesla Roadster.

There was no golf cart in site. This little sports car can move, and while we could not test the claim of zero to 60 miles an hour in under six seconds (the newest model claims under four seconds) on London’s back streets, it did handle well (I had to keep avoiding a Aston Martin and a Lamborghini parked on two of the corners) and the acceleration was smooth.

It can apparently go for more than 200 miles before having to be plugged in, though others who have taken it for a test drive say that drops if it’s aggressively driven.

Of course, it’s an electric car, so you lose some of the pleasures of a sports car. There are no gears, so no clutch, and of course you can't gun the engine at a red light.

I also realized quickly that I gauge my driving by the whine of the engine, so you have to lose that habit quickly. Finally, and maybe most crucially, people don’t know you’re there!

I saw a lady with a pram walking in the road, and she had no idea there was a little red sports car coming up on her. My Tesla minder said he hoped regulators did not mandate that electric cars add an artificial noise; drivers just had to re educate themselves. I begged to differ. Watch Jim Boulden's test drive

It is the first non-subsidized commercially sold electric car approved for driving on all roads (some little electric cars can’t go on motor ways for instance, others are just demonstration vehicles, built in collaboration with governments).

Tesla’s current CEO and principal owner, the young internet millionaire Elon Musk, said the California-based firm had delivered around 550 Roadsters, mostly to customers there.

He was on hand at the London showroom when the first two cars arrived for the European launch party.

Musk said the company decided that the first electric car launched had to be the $100,000 sports car, to dispel any thoughts that an electric car couldn’t compete with a petrol engine.

He insisted that the company would already be profitable but for investing in his much bigger ambition. A just-announced near half billion dollar loan from the U.S. government would largely be used to build the next car – a sedan (currently called the Model S).

It’s expected to cost half the price of the Roadster and travel up to 300 miles on a full charge (it can be plugged in for a top up that takes only 45 minutes, says Tesla).

Musk said this next generation would be the world’s first mass-produced electric car.

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Filed under: Auto industryBusiness

July 2nd, 2009
08:25 AM GMT
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) - For many Indians, a four-wheeled family car is the stuff of hopes and aspirations.

And Maruti Jayawant Bhandare – a 43-year-old man living on $160 a month by mending shoes from his tiny stall in Mumbai – learned earlier this week his dreams might have come true.

News reporters told him he was one of the lucky first 100,000 customers selected for the world's cheapest car, the Nano, being built by India's Tata Motors.

He was one of 206,703 people who in April booked what has been billed in India as “the common man's car.” He paid Rs 140,000, or around $2,800, for a deluxe version of the Nano; the basic model is priced from $2,000.

A cobbler booking a Nano made news in India, where a car ownership is a luxury for most. Here was a potential car owner who lives in a rented room in a Mumbai tenement with his wife and two school-age children.

I called him after seeing news reports he was among the first. Bhandare was eager to receive his tiny, jelly bean-shaped car – although he had yet to learn how to drive.

Still, he was a little unsure when his car would arrive since Bhandare doesn't know how to access the Internet to check the delivery information the company provided. So he gave me his details to check the company Web site for his application status.

Alas, I found the earlier press reports were incorrect – "Mr Maruti Bhandare" was not among the lucky first Nano owners. He is scheduled to take delivery of his car between January and March 2011.

A two-year wait for his sunshine-yellow hatchback sounded a bit too long for Bhandare. "I will go to the showroom, make some inquiries and decide then what's to be done now," he said.

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Filed under: BusinessIndia

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