Bisiness and City in Brief

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National phone network launched

NTL, the former engineering arm of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, has launched a national telecommunications network in competition with BT and Mercury.

NTL, owned by Mercury Asset Management, will sell capacity on the network to large companies and other telephone operators. The first customer is Vodafone, which will use NTL to link its mobile telephone exchanges.

Nuclear sale backed

The Association of Independent Electricity Producers said that the Government should privatise the nuclear power industry but should refuse to subsidise the building of nuclear power stations. It said that the market should decide if and when Britain needed further nuclear plants.

Purchasers bullish

The Purchasing Managers' Index registered 59.6 per cent in September, indicating continued growth in manufacturing (50 per cent represents no change against the previous month, while less than 50 per cent represents a slide), according to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. The Prices Index registered 69 per cent after 70.7 per cent in August, reflecting a further rise in prices.

Halifax offshoot

Halifax Building Society is to set up its own fund management company to look after the society's life and unit trust funds in co-operation with Gartmore and Morgan Grenfell.

Lufthansa private

Private investors now hold the majority of shares in Lufthansa, Germany's national airline. Dresdner Bank said yesterday a total of 5 million shares had been sold in the first tranche of the one-for-four rights issue and offer of government shares. The bank said the placement had a wide international spread.

German factory slump

Western German industrial output slumped by 3 per cent in August due mainly to summer factory closures. Production was up 1.2 per cent year on year. The July industrial output figure was officially revised down to a monthly increase of 1.2 per cent.

MBO flurry

A strong final quarter to UK management buyouts could give an annual total value of pounds 3.3bn, the highest level since the pounds 6.5bn record set in 1989, according to KPMG Peat Marwick.

Hanson changes

Brian Hellings and Peter Harper have stepped down from the board of Hanson prior to their retirement and Chris Thomas has been appointed an associate director.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Nervousness over the outcome of the US-Japan trade talks reversed earlier gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated from a 21-point advance to finish 11.44 down at 3,843.19.

Tokyo: Arbitrage-linked selling took 51.31 points off the Nikkei average. It closed at 19,653.81.

Hong Kong: Sharp losses in the property sector drove the Hang Seng index 178.97 points (1.85 per cent) lower to 9,521.24.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index eased two points to end at 2,028.7.

Bombay: Scattered buying by institutions failed to halt the slide. The index dropped another 53.82 points to 4,304.48.

Johannesburg: Weakness in the financial rand helped prices higher, with the overall index improving 40 points to 5,676.

Paris: A rally near the end of trading took the CAC-40 index from nearly 20 points down to a final 1,879.25, a 3.07-point gain.

Frankfurt: Negative corporate news hit sentiment as the DAX index fell 31.83 points to 2,011.75.

Zurich: Heavy trading in UBS dominated a session in which the SPI lost 14.57 points to 1,683.36.

London: Report, page 17.

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