Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Clinton softens line on drug prices

The US President, Bill Clinton, indicated he is willing to relax his previously aggressive attitude to drug pricing. Yesterday, he told a Kansas town meeting he was disturbed by the decline in drug company share prices since last year's announcement of the proposed reforms.

Du Cann trustees

Touche Ross and Coopers & Lybrand have been appointed trustees in the bankruptcy of the former Lonrho chairman and senior Conservative MP Sir Edward Du Cann, whose liabilities are estimated at over pounds 1.2m.

Indicator falls

The Central Statistical Office's shorter leading indicator, which tracks the expected strength of the economy five months in advance, fell in February for the first time in 17 months. The fall was the result of sliding share prices and a drop in confidence.

Shelling out

Sir Peter Holmes, former chairman of Shell Transport & Trading, received a one-off full service bonus of pounds 124,633 in 1993 to boost his total remuneration package to pounds 504,000, according to the company's annual report and accounts. Sir Peter, who retired in June after eight years as chairman, also received a performance-related bonus of pounds 97,000.

Molecular placing

Oxford Molecular Group, a specialist computer software firm that lost pounds 1.3m last year, wants to raise pounds 9.4m in a share placing that will bring it to the market.

Eastern sale

The Treuhand agency privatising eastern German industry said it plans to sell its Eastern European Consulting Company subsidiary by the middle of the year for at least DM2m.

Barclays issue

Barclays Bank launched its third securitisation by issuing pounds 281.8m of securities backed by 7,400 of Barclays' own mortgages.

Gulf bank

A Saudi banker is inviting Gulf investors to set up a bank with a planned dollars 100m capital to operate in the West Bank and Gaza, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said. The bank could start operations within six months of the handover of Gaza and Jericho by Israel to the Palestinians.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Stocks climbed back from a steeper retreat earlier in the day and the Dow Jones Average closed 19.00 points down at 3,674.26.

Tokyo: Share prices gyrated wildly following the prime minister's resignation. The Nikkei 225 closed 44.01 better at 19,934.99 in heavy trading.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index ended barely changed at 2,298.22, up a meagre 12.30.

Sydney: Investors stayed on the sidelines, unwilling to commit themselves until a clearer picture emerges of US interest rate trends. The All Ordinaries declined 5.4 to 2,082.

Johannesburg: The overall index gained 96 to 4,953 as political leaders met for crucial talks.

Frankfurt: Bond gains nudged the DAX index 1.93 points ahead to 2,303.34.

Zurich: The SMI index defied the lower opening on Wall Street, closing up 12.5 at 2,873.4

Paris: The weak franc helped to lower the CAC-40 index 4.80 points to 2,114.77.

London: Report, page 18.

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