Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Talks on Swan Hunter 'useful'

Talks on the future of Tyneside's Swan Hunter shipyard were described as useful and constructive after the Ministry of Defence put forward new proposals on the price of a key contract.

A meeting between the MoD, the French company hoping to buy the bankrupt yard, and a receiver from Price Waterhouse broke up last night with all sides confident they had made progress.

Life insurers suffer

Life insurance companies have seen business suffer from bad publicity over sales methods and commissions. Annual premium pensions business fell 11 per cent to pounds 275m and annual premium life assurance was down 16 per cent to pounds 380m, according to second-quarter sales figures issued by the Life Insurance Association.

Lockheed barred

Lockheed Aeronautical Systems, the maker of the C-130 Hercules cargo plane, has been barred from receiving new export licences because of charges raised in a federal indictment. Lockheed and two of its former executives are accused of making illegal payments to an Egyptian official to influence the purchase of cargo planes. The company denied wrongdoing.

Closure in Wales

Star Micronics of Japan is to shut its computer printer factory in South Wales with the loss of 195 jobs. The company blamed 'rapid shrinkage' in the dot matrix printer market and a sharp fall in prices for the product.

Boosey appointment

Boosey & Hawkes, the music publisher, has appointed Peter Austen as group finance director. Mr Austen joins from Ranks Hovis McDougall where he was finance and planning director of the cereals division.

Bayer rises

Bayer, the German pharmaceuticals group, said pre-tax profits rose 24.4 per cent to DM1.754bn in the first half from DM1.41bn a year earlier, in line with analysts' expectations.

German increase

German vehicle production rose by 8 per cent in the first seven months of this year to 2.543 million units, the VDA auto industry association said.

Leading sale

Kleeneze, the direct marketing group, sold its loss-making retail division, The Leading Edge, to Revelation for a pounds 850,000.

Tesco at the tower

Tesco is to open a Metro store at Canary Wharf in January, with a sales area of 12,600 square feet.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips paused for breath after their heroics. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average had given up 16.84 points to 3,829.89.

Tokyo: Trading was volatile. The Nikkei 225 index closed down 68.31 points at 20,443.29.

Hong Kong: Led by gains by property issues, the Hang Seng index rose 97.42 to 9,336.11.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index rose 16.7 points to 2,077.8.

Johannesburg: The overall index added 19 points to 5,916 after hitting a 5,937 all-time high.

Frankfurt: Boosted by sharp gains on Wall Street in and US bonds, the DAX index closed 25.84 points higher at 2,152.21.

Milan: Trade was thin ahead of today's cabinet meeting, expected to bring news on budget plans. The Mibtel index closed 48 points lower at 10,897.

Paris: The CAC-40 index closed 20.23 points higher at 2,026.52.

Zurich: The Swiss Performance Index added 6.59 to 1,702.05.

Brussels: The Bel 20 index rose 3.29 points to 1,460.22.

London: Report, page 20.