"Sell in May..." Well, why wait for it? We don't want to be caught out over the Easter break, not with that terrifying Iranian president with the unpronounceable name claiming his scientists have produced enriched uranium - the feat described as the "tipping point" from which they can go ahead and churn out material for a bomb whenever requested by their masters.

Do you want to wait when crude is nudging $70 again - for the very good reason that Nigeria's troubles are keeping over 500,00 barrels a day off the market and who knows what happens if President Bush lives up to the lurid leaks about his plans for Iran? Certainly not when metal prices are hitting new records that threaten to take the gloss off many company profits - not least those in the West Midlands who could have done without copper and zinc going the same way as gas and electricity.

Anyway this market has risen by seven per cent since Christmas. It has to take a breather some time. Even the bids that have provided the thrills thus far are running out of fizz. Look at those Spaniards pitching in for BAA at below the market price.

Whether anybody actually said that yesterday as they joined in the stock market's sell-off in the last hour of dealing, I have no idea. If they did it would have been before it became known that Nasdaq had paid 1175p a share for 15 per cent of the London Stock Exchange - a 136p premium, no less, over last night's closing price.

This could very well turn out to be another of those shake-outs in a bull market where good nerves and a dash of over-confidence pay-off. By most measures, most shares are not over-priced. And if copper and zinc have been driven heavenwards by spec-ulative funds rather than actual demand, they could come down as fast as they went up.

Myself, I would feel a lot easier without Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad (easier to pronounce if you imagine it with a hyphen, but it doesn't make him any nicer).


This furious boom in zinc and copper has prompted the thought that if it goes much further you could make money melting down "copper" coins, which contain more zinc than copper.

The mathematics depend on the face value of the coin, its weight and the cost of smelting out its separate contents, as well as the market price of the metals.

The first calculation, by the Financial Times yesterday, highlighted the potential of the US "penny". It would have thought the euro cent cannot be far behind.

The relative strength of the pound should put our own one and two pence coins out of immediate danger - though the economics of minting more of them may be getting questionable.

It is, incidentally, illegal to melt down British currency.

That did not save our last pure silver coins.

They were replaced by cupro-nickel in 1949, as I recall it, but remained in circulation until the mid-1970s.

Then a surge in the price of silver made their metal content worth appreciably more than their face value. The whole lot vanished in a matter of months.