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Queens Moat gets two more months

Queens Moat Houses, the troubled hotels group, has negotiated a further two-month standstill agreement on interest payments of pounds 800m owed to 65 banks. The deal comes two days after the deadline expired on the original agreement struck last April.

The company, which has total debts of pounds 1.3bn including bond and debenture holders, said progress had also been made towards a financial restructuring.

More pits to close

Almost 1,000 miners' jobs were under threat last night after British Coal announced the proposed closure of one supposedly 'safe' pit and began moves to shut another. If the two collieries - Goldthorpe, near Doncaster, and Manton, near Worksop, Nottinghamshire - do close it would leave British Coal with just 19 pits.

Warburg tops poll

SG Warburg was voted top UK equities research house for the third year running by the companies being researched and their finance directors. The survey in the Securities & Investment Review also voted Warburg top merchant bank for the sixth year running.

Heathrow warning

Heathrow airport will be losing 6 million passengers a year to rival European airports by 2002 unless it gets planning permission to build a fifth terminal, said Sir John Egan, chief executive of BAA. By 2015 that figure could rise to 30 million.

Lasmo strikes again

Lasmo, the beleaguered oil explorer, said it had made a second large oil discovery in Algeria within a year. The find was announced alongside the appointment of Richard Smernoff as finance director.

German output up

Western German industrial output rebounded sharply by 0.7 per cent in December from November. The Economics Ministry warned that the provisional figure would be revised downward. Industrial output was down 0.9 per cent year-on-year.

Benetton placing

Benetton, the Italian knitwear group, is to place up to 10 million shares in international stock markets. The group said this would increase its international shareholder base and allow it to take expansion opportunities.

Brent Walker talks

Brent Walker said it was close to finalising agreements with banks to extend repayments until late in the decade on about pounds 400m of debt that will fall due next month.

Anglo-Dutch Meats

Anglo-Dutch Meats has asked us to point out that it has no connection with UVG, the subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, which recently withdrew beef shipments to the Middle East, as reported on 11 January.

World Markets

New York: US stocks recovered from a bout of profit taking and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 11.53 points at 3,975.54.

Tokyo: Profit-taking after the recent rally took the Nikkei average down 166.31 to 20,250.03.

Hong Kong: Concern over the future direction of US interest rates lowered the Hang Seng index 41.06 points to 11,785.83.

Sydney: Bargain-hunting by foreign investors reversed early falls and left the All Ordinaries index at 2,312.1, a two-point gain.

Bombay: Buying by mutual funds sent the index up 92.55 points (2.3 per cent) to 4,040.41.

Johannesburg: Both gold and industrials had a good day, lifting the index 127 points to 4,899.

Paris: The CAC-40 index added 24.64 points to a record 2,355.93, buoyed by foreign demand.

Frankfurt: Directionless trade ended with the DAX index 3.34 points firmer at 2,184.01.

Zurich: Roche and the banking sector led the market higher. The SPI added 12.93 points to 2,004.8.

London: Report, page 36.

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