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N&P announces 3.25% mortgage

The National & Provincial Building Society has announced what it claims is Britain's lowest- ever fixed-rate mortgage.

The society said the new rate of 3.25 per cent, fixed until 31 March next year, would mean repayments on an average pounds 50,000 mortgage of pounds 115.10 a month.

Sears sells SIS stake

Sears, the clothing and footwear retailer, has realised about pounds 9.8m from the sale of its 12.7 per cent shareholding in Satellite Information Services. The buyers are MAI, Lord Hollick's media group, and Racal Electronics. Both are existing shareholders in SIS, which specialises in providing televised racing to betting shops in the UK and Ireland.

Oil output gushes

Britain's oil output rose to a six- year high last month, according to figures compiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Production rose 1 per cent to 2.4 million barrels per day in January, the highest since May 1988. Average output between last November and last month surged 20 per cent.

Unit trust record

The value of unit trust funds reached a record in January at pounds 99.9bn. Sales to private investors, at pounds 534m, were 380 per cent above sales a year ago. But heavy selling by pension funds pushed net sales down to pounds 490m.

Bank applies to PIA

TSB became the first clearing bank with life assurance subsidiaries to apply to join the Personal Investment Authority, the new savings regulator. Standard Life, whose representative resigned from the PIA board, also indicated it would join. But the Prudential, the most vociferous critic, said it had not decided.

EU seeks Asia link

The European Union wants to create more formal links with the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) to help prevent world trade problems.

Spanish rate cut

The Bank of Spain cut its key intervention rate to 8.5 per cent from 8.75 per cent. Dealers said the cut was expected after the lowering of the central bank's daily intervention rate on Friday from 8.80 to 8.55 per cent.

Back on track

Losses at LA Gear, the US athletic footwear group, narrowed in the fourth quarter to dollars 15m from dollars 29.8m during the same period a year earlier. Sales rose to dollars 94.5m from dollars 79.5m.

BT global division

BT is setting up a new division to lead its global telecoms marketing. Alfred Mockett, managing director of Business Communications, will head the new Global Communications Division with responsibility for developing marketing, sales and service operations for global services.

Lasmo strikes

(First Edition)

Lasmo, in a joint venture, has announced an oil and gas discovery in Algeria.

Bank applies to PIA

(First Edition)

TSB yesterday became the first of the clearing banks with life assurance subsidiaries to apply to join the Personal Investment Authority, the new savings regulator. Standard Life, whose representative resigned from the PIA board, also indicated it would join. But the Prudential, the most vociferous critic, said it had not yet decided.

Making headway

(First Edition)

British manufacturers should no longer be regarded as Europe's underperformers. But neither they nor their rivals in France and Germany are rigorous enough to compete with the world's best, according to a report published by the management consultants Peter Chadwick. The study coincides with the preparation of white papers on competitiveness by Britain and the European Union.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Blue chips slumped, giving back all the gains of the previous day, on renewed concerns about interest rates and inflation. The Dow Jones Average ended down 19.98 at 3,891.68.

Tokyo: Renewed yen strength kept investors sidelined. The Nikkei 225 eased 0.80 to 19,341.83.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index edged ahead 71 to 10,745.

Sydney: Strong buying by institutions lifted the All Ordinaries index 16.4 to 2,251.

Johannesburg: A sharp fall in the financial rand cushioned shares from the effects of the lower bullion price, the gold index closing unchanged at 1,855.

Madrid: The general index gained 3.23 to 342.85.

Zurich: Optimism about inflation figures due today boosted the SMI index 44.7 to 3,027.5.

Frankfurt: A recovery in bonds encouraged the DAX index 20.05 points higher at 2,127.67.

Paris: The CAC-40 index improved 25.27 to 2,252 on hopes of lower interest rate.

London: Report, page 36.

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