Business and City in Brief

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Hang Seng down 9.8% in two days

Share prices in Hong Kong fell sharply yesterday for the second day running, although the declines in the Hang Seng index - the steepest since the 1987 crash - were widely seen as a healthy correction to an overheated market.

The index, down 6.5 per cent on Thursday, shed another 3.3 per cent to 11,001.48 in record volume. The authorities said they were watching the market closely.

French coming

The Paris Bourse and its equity options market have both been cleared to become recognised investment exchanges in the UK by the Office of Fair Trading. Sir Bryan Carsberg, director general of the OFT, said he would keep potential anti-competitive practices by the French, rivals to the City's Seaq International, under review.

Ford payout

Employees of Ford in the US will be rewarded with profit-sharing payments tied to last year's earnings, the first time the car maker has distributed money under the plan since 1990. The payouts are an indication that Ford's results for 1993 will be strong.

Costco cuts

Costco, the US retailer that is pioneering the idea of British warehouse clubs, has dismissed 128 staff at its outlet in Thurrock, Essex, only weeks after its highly publicised opening last November.

Takeover chief

The Takeover Panel has appointed William Staple, a director of NM Rothschild & Sons, as its next director general. He will succeed Frances Heaton, who is returning to Lazards. The appointment, for two years, takes effect from 2 March.

Pizza pointer

Compass, the contract caterer, has signed an agreement with the joint owners of Pizza Hut, Pepsico and Whitbread, to open 50 kiosk-style outlets in stations, university campuses and workplaces.

Trafalgar victory

Shareholders in Trafalgar House gave their approval for the group's pounds 425m rights issue and placing at a meeting in London.

Mortgage increase

Mortgage lending rose from pounds 4.3bn in October to pounds 4.7bn in November, according to the Bank of England. Net mortgage lending fell from pounds 1.9bn to pounds 1.7bn.

TV wars

Granada Group has fired another salvo at LWT, its takeover target, alleging that the London station's share of advertising revenue was declining. LWT reponded by saying its share of revenue was forecast to rise, while Granada's was expected to fall.

World Markets

New York: Late program buying on lower interest rates propelled the Dow Jones Average 16.89 points higher to yet another record close of 3,820.77.

Tokyo: Late arbitrage buying took the Nikkei average 242.02 points higher to 18,124.01.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index narrowly avoided dropping below 11,000 as the correction continued. It closed 373.02 (3.3 per cent) lower at 11,001.48.

Sydney: Profit-taking on the back of declining Asian markets sent the All Ordinaries index down 14.3 points to 2,186.

Bombay: Blue chips surged on widespread institutional buying. The index climbed 146.44 points (4.1 per cent) to 3,655.91.

Johannesburg: Early nervousness eased as the gold price recovered and the overall index added six points to 5,068.

Paris: The market reached new heights, with the CAC-40 index 32.49 points better at 2,307.55.

Frankfurt: The DAX index closed at the day's high, but still 8.58 points off at 2,211.64.

London: Report, page 18.

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