loose change

Newcastle Building Society is launching a fixed rate mortgage at 6.49 per cent between now and 2000. Buildings or contents or accident sickness and unemployment insurance must be taken with the society. Fees are pounds 50 up-front plus pounds 245 on completion and there is a 5 per cent penalty for redemption before January 2003.

Nationwide Building Society is offering a range of new mortgage rates, including a one year discount of 3.9 per cent on the current variable rate of 6.49 per cent for borrowers with a 25 per cent deposit, and a 2.9 per cent discount for deposits of less than 15 per cent. Discounts are also available over two and three years, as well as fixed rates of 5.75 per cent for two years, 6.99 per cent for three years and 8.15 per cent for five.

Another committed mutual, Coventry Building Society, is launching a new range of discount, cashback and fixed rate mortgages. They include a 2.04 per cent discount for a year on the standard variable rate, currently 6.99 per cent, plus a 3 per cent cashback, but there are penalties of 12 months' interest during the first three years and six months' for the next two. Discounts of 1.75 per cent until May 2000 and 0.75 per cent for five years are available. Fixed rates include 4.9 per cent until January 1999 with a six month penalty for redemption before 2002.

General Accident has reduced premiums on its level term assurance policies, which pay a fixed sum if policyholders die within a set period, by between 7 per cent and 16 per cent. A policy for a male non-smoker aged 34 paying pounds 100,000 on death within 10 years now costs pounds 12.70 a month at 35, slightly more than the equivalent from Virgin Direct but at older ages General Accident claims to undercut both Virgin and M&S as well as conventional competitors.

Stockbroker City Deal Services is offering private investors two free sale deals of any amount, plus all deals over pounds 1,000 free if investors reinvest in a Birmingham Midshires stock market growth account, which guarantees any growth in the FTSE 100 index over five years in full and a minimum guaranteed return of 10 per cent if the index falls or underperforms over the period. The minimum investment is pounds 2,500 and the offer is targeted at utility shareholders worried about windfall taxes.

Market Harborough Building Society is offering 6.5 per cent gross on a new one year fixed rate bond with a minimum investment of pounds 1,000 but a 90 day penalty is charged for withdrawals.

Abbey Life offers a new stand-alone pension product providing pounds 150,000 cover at 60 to a 35-year-old non-smoking male for pounds 28.31 a month before tax relief. Call 01202-401679 or an independent financial adviser.

NatWest Bank is launching a new term assurance plan offering three levels of cover, from pounds 50,000 to pounds 100,000 over 10, 15 or 20 years. Premiums start at pounds 4.75 a month at 18. Call 0800-255200 for details.

Fund manager NPI is launching a Latin American unit trust concentrating on major companies in the four main markets. The initial charge is 5.5 per cent, plus 1.5 per cent a year management, but sums as small as pounds 500 are acceptable.

ShareLink has announced an Accumulator Plus PEP, with a guaranteed growth of 20 per cent, plus any rise in the FTSE index. There are no charges, and amounts between pounds 1,000 and pounds 9,000 can be invested. Call 0121-236-4848 for details.

Johnson Fry has launched the third issue of its Income Safeguard Bond, offering a fixed return of 8 per cent a year free of basic rate tax, or a compounded return of 55 per cent after five and a half years, guaranteed even if stock markets fall 20 per cent. Minimum investment is pounds 5,000.

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