Business and City in Brief

G7 to be tough on Russian inflation

Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of Seven industrialised countries will tomorrow urge the new Russian government to resume efforts to head off hyper-inflation if it wishes to receive further Western financial assistance.

The seven will stress during talks with Russian officials in Germany that the conditions for releasing financial aid that applied before the Russian parliamentary elections last December still apply today.

Woolwich ahead

Woolwich Building Society increased group pre-tax profits by 45 per cent to pounds 217m last year. Provisions for bad debt fell by 22 per cent to pounds 143m. The 257 estate agencies made a trading loss of pounds 3.4m compared with losses of pounds 11m in the previous year.

TSB jobs to go

TSB, the banking group, is to make 240 staff in its head office redundant this year.

French rate down

The Bank of France cut its intervention rate to 6.10 per cent from 6.20 per cent at yesterday's money market tender. But its 5- to-10 day emergency funding rate was unchanged at 7.00 per cent.

Development plans

Development Securities, the stock market vehicle of the property entrepreneur Martin Landau, said yesterday it was accelerating plans for its two largest land holdings, 80 acres near Birmingham and a 32-acre retail site near Chester. Headline pre-tax profits of pounds 900,000 for the year to December 1993 compared with a pounds 40.8m loss in 1992.

Irish exports up

Irish exporters increased sales to Britain, Germany, France and Italy well ahead of overall market trends last year. Imports from Britain grew by 7 per cent and private consumption by 2 per cent, but Irish exporters raised their UK sales by 8 per cent.

Nabisco to raise dollars 2bn

RJR Nabisco, the US tobacco concern, plans to raise about dollars 2bn through an offering of 300 million depositary shares of preferred equity redemption cumulative stock.

Aluminium cut

The French group Pechiney, one of the world's largest aluminium producers, is to cut output by 12 per cent a year as part of an international agreement to support weak aluminium prices.

Cheque ruling studied

The European Commission will decide in the next few days whether to appeal against the European Court of Justice's decision to reduce fines on the French banking association, Groupement des Cartes Bancaires, and Eurocheque International. The Commission fined the companies for charging retailers excessive fees for processing Eurocheques.

WORLD MARKETS

New York: Shares fell sharply as higher interest rate fears increased. By mid-afternoon the Dow Jones Average was down 43.34 points at 3,848.34.

Tokyo: The Nikkei 225 leapt 423.65 points as the yen stabilised, encouraging strong overseas buying.

Hong Kong: The decision to press ahead with local political reforms left the Hang Seng index down 331.21 at 10,432.02.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index shed 21.9 at 2,197.

Johannesburg: Lack of overseas interest and the lower bullion price depressed the gold index 20 to 1,835.

Frankfurt: Fears of further instability in Russia depressed the DAX index 37.38 to 2,090.29.

Paris: Disappointment at the meagre rate cut announced by the Bank of France lowered the CAC-40 index 43.71 points to 2,208.29.

Zurich: Shares shed more than 2 per cent as the SPI index plunged 38.96 to 1,887.21 on Wall Street's early weakness.

London: Report, page 32.

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