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Curb on ministers at Lloyd's

Government ministers may continue to be Lloyd's underwriting members only through a pooling arrangement from next year. A tightening of rules on their membership of the troubled insurance market says no ministers should take an active part in management of syndicates to which they belong.

The latest register of MPs' interests showed 48 Tories disclosing past or present Lloyd's membership, including Michael Howard, Home Secretary, Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Sir Nicholas Lyell, Attorney-General.

AT&T advance

The US long-distance telephone company AT&T reported profits of dollars 1.13bn (pounds 748m) for its second quarter, helped by gains from telephone traffic, equipment sales and financial services. The profits showed an increase of 12 per cent over the same quarter in 1993. Total revenues rose 8.7 per cent to dollars 17.73bn from dollars 16.32bn.

Irish growth

Ireland's growth this year is expected to be twice the European Union average, outstripping official predictions at the time of January's budget. Bertie Ahern, the Finance Minister, indicated that GNP growth will reach 5 per cent, compared with his earlier forecast of 3.75 per cent.

Mattel rises 40%

Mattel, the US toy company that recently gained control of JW Spear, the maker of Scrabble, made dollars 57.1m in the second quarter, a 40 per cent increase over the same period last year. Sales at Mattel, whose products include Barbie dolls, rose to dollars 650m from dollars 577m.

Salomon in red

The Wall Street investment bank Salomon made net losses of dollars 204m for its second quarter after being caught out by volatile price movements and liquidity problems in the bond markets.

Free of VAT

Zero rating for VAT has been extended to new homes created by the conversion of non-residential buildings, previously liable to VAT at 17.5 per cent. Builders will be able to reclaim the VAT charged on certain electrical items in new homes.

Commodities listing

ED&F Man, the London commodities firm, is to seek a Stock Exchange listing in the autumn that could value it at about pounds 400m. Last year it made pounds 66.7m before tax.

Bass Taverns

Philip Bowman is taking over as chief executive of Bass Taverns, the pubs division of Bass, not of Bass itself as reported yesterday.

World Markets

New York: Stocks were lifted by strength in IBM, and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 5.18 points at 3,732.45.

Tokyo: Profit-taking in subdued trade left the Nikkei average 157.84 in arrears at 20,622.92.

Hong Kong: Light bargain-hunting took prices off their lows. The Hang Seng index dipped 71.16 points to 9,117.66.

Sydney: A fall in futures prices helped to send the All Ordinaries index down 29.4 to 2,049.2.

Bombay: A dull session saw the index ease 12.25 to 4,098.61.

Johannesburg: With gold shares weaker and industrials little changed, the overall index surrendered 26 points to 5,553.

Frankfurt: Shares fell in after-hours trade when the Bundesbank left interest rates unchanged. The DAX ended the floor session 25.35 off at 2,113.3.

Paris: After a see-saw session the CAC-40 index closed 10.06 points to the good at 2,053.78.

Zurich: A late rally enabled the SPI to end 9.89 ahead at 1,705.67.

London: Report, page 34.

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