Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
BLACK & DECKER FOCUSES ON BRITAIN

Black & Decker is to consolidate its European tool-making operations in Britain. The largest US maker of power tools said it planned to discontinue making tools later this year at its plant in Limburg, Germany, and would concentrate its European activities in Spennymoor, Co Durham.

Black & Decker also announced that it was setting up headquarters for its European Professional Power Tools division and strengthening research and development operations in Idstein, near Frankfurt.

PENSION OBJECTIONS

The Confederation of British Industry has objections about three of the main pillars of the Goode Committee's recommendations to combat abuse in pension schemes. The CBI is worried about the cost of a compensation scheme, fears that a minimum solvency standard could restrict investment in equities, and would like to water down proposals to appoint scheme members as trustees.

BARCLAYS DENIAL

Barclays Bank denied it was starting a compulsory redundancy programme for tens of thousands of staff after a union protest in the City over 505 dismissals

ITALIAN PROFITS

Banca Commerciale Italiana, which is being privatised next month, reported sharply higher trading profits, but rising tax and bad debt charges left net profits only 1.7 per cent higher at L268bn last year.

GERMAN INFLATION UP

Inflation in western Germany rose 3.4 per cent in the year to January after a 0.8 per cent rise in prices during the month, according to provisional figures. The latest rate compares with 3.7 per cent in December.

EUROPEAN PRODUCTION

Industrial production in the European Union rose by 0.3 per cent in the three months to October but was 3.1 per cent lower in October compared with a year earlier. Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, said this represented an easing trend.

SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY

The London Stock Exchange has set up a working group to examine whether new listing rules are needed for scientific-research based shares.

TRUST RATINGS

Edinburgh Investment Trust and Dunedin Income Growth Investment Trust have obtained A1-plus credit ratings from Standard & Poors to allow them to raise additional money by issuing commercial paper. The trusts, which are both managed by Dunedin Fund Managers, are raising pounds 150m and pounds 75m respectively.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Shares lost most of their morning gains, then rallied in late trade. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 12.66 at 3,908.

TOKYO: Foreign buyers shrugged off Japan's political uncertainty to send prices soaring. The Nikkei average climbed 489.85 points to close at 19,138.21.

HONG KONG: Reacting to China's refusal to accept responsibility for borrowing by the colony beyond 1997, the Hang Seng index tumbled 251.37 to 11,239.57.

SYDNEY: Closed (holiday).

JOHANNESBURG: A day of little change saw gold shares finish mildly lower, industrials a shade ahead and the overall index six points easier at 5,457.

FRANKFURT: An upturn in futures and bond prices helped the DAX index off its lows to end 7.61 points down at 2,119.17.

PARIS: Quiet, narrow-range trading left the CAC-40 index 4.01 points firmer at 2,282.35.

ZURICH: Active trade took the market to record highs, with the SPI 11.56 points better at 1,960.62.

MILAN: Banks led shares higher in a session curtailed by a two- hour technical breakdown.

LONDON: Report, page 40.

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