Business and City in Brief

Clients confused says survey

Financial services companies regularly inundate their prospective customers with bewildering and meaningless marketing material which is too difficult to understand, according to a survey. published yesterday. Despite the need for full, clear and impartial information, clients are often provided instead with a confusing set of choices, says the National Consumer Council survey found.

The survey, by Mori, showed that 88 per cent of those interviewed believed it important that financial advice should be strictly independent and the adviser not be linked to one company.

Whessoe warning

Whessoe shares, which peaked in April 1993 at 352p, tumbled a further 26p to 108p yesterday after a warning of trading problems in its piping systems division and the probability of a loss this year. Directors, who held the company's interim dividend at 2.3p in May, added that it was unlikely to pay a final in the year to September.

Bottom Line, page 26

Deutsche ahead

Deutsche Bank improved sluggish first-half results by using extraordinary gains to report a 1 per cent rise in operating profit. Germany's largest commercial bank defied analysts' forecasts of a big fall in profits by slashing risk provisions and using asset disposals to lift operating profits from DM2.6bn ( pounds 1.09bn) to DM2.7bn.

Shipyard hope

Hopes that the Swan Hunter shipyard could be saved were raised by Malcolm Rifkind, Defence Secretary, yesterday. A three-month refit contract, which was to have been given to Swan only if it was bought out of receivership this week, may be placed anyway.

Their number's up

Customers of BT, from November, will be able to see the number of incoming callers before deciding whether to answer the telephone. The service, likely to cost about pounds 4 to pounds 7 a quarter, is expected to deter malicious or abusive callers. Customers will have to buy or rent an add-on box or a new phone with integrated display.

Cornford quits

Michael Cornford, NatWest Treasury's head of global foreign exchange, has resigned after only four months to form his own fund management firm.

SFA appointment

Peter Minchin, a board member of Lloyds Bank Stockbrokers, has been appointed deputy chairman of the Securities and Futures Authority.

Offshore bids

The Government received 25 applications from groups involving 44 companies in the 15th round of offshore licensing. The companies are interested in only 34 of the 81 blocks offered in the North Sea. The Department of Trade and Industry plans to announce awards by the end of next month to encourage early exploration and development.

World Markets

New York: Thin trade after disappointing corporate results sent the Dow Jones average down 6.16 to 3,735.68 at closing.

Tokyo: After three days of falls the market was lifted out of the doldrums by a flurry of index-linked buying. The Nikkei average added 47.71 to 20,345.37.

Hong Kong: Recovering from heavy losses in the morning, the Hang Seng index closed 19.74 points firmer at 9,194.36.

Sydney: Nervousness over key economic data due this week took its toll as the All Ordinaries slipped 7.4 points to 2,040.9.

Bombay: In a session curtailed to one hour the index moved up 16.13 points to 4,122.78.

Johannesburg: A better gold price boosted confidence. Most sectors were stronger and the index climbed 42 points to 5,610.

Frankfurt: Good first half results from Deutsche Bank helped the DAX index up 15.74 to 2,151.96.

Paris: With bond futures higher on hopes of lower European interest rates, the CAC-40 index gained 17 points to 2,076.84.

Zurich: Underpinned by the firmer dollar, the SPI edged up 2.64 points to 1,722.27.

London: Report, page 25.

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