Business and City in Brief

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Midland cuts card ties

Credit card groups without their own ATM network have been barred from using Midland Bank's cash machines.

As of 1 June only foreign Visa cardholders and holders of cards issued by banks with a reciprocal agreement with Midland - NatWest, TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Northern Bank - can use the machines.

US producer prices up

Core factory gate prices in the US rose more sharply than expected in May, reflecting the strength of the US economy in the past few months. Excluding volatile prices for food and energy, the US producer price index rose 0.4 per cent, pushed up largely by prices for cars, capital goods and tobacco.

Seafield cancellation

The special shareholder meeting requisitioned by dissident shareholders in transport group Seafield was cancelled yesterday. The company said that technical irregularities meant that any decisions taken would be invalid.

BAA flies high BAA's seven airports handled 7.3 million passengers in May, an increase of 6.5 per cent on the same month last year.

Scottish Stagecoach

Stagecoach has made a pounds 6m recommended offer for Western Scottish Holdings. The deal will make the group the largest bus and coach operator in Scotland.

450 jobs on the way

Sun Valley Poultry is investing pounds 32m and creating 450 jobs over four years with the building of a new processing plant in Wolverhampton. The plant will produce convenience foods for the UK and European markets.

ICI sells Compton

Imperial Chemical Industries is to sell Compton, the Californian business of its ICI Acrylics Inc, to Laird Group. It said the value of the deal was less than 1 per cent of its net assets.

Channel choice

Four private sector consortia have been chosen to tender for the design, construction and maintenance of the pounds 2.7bn second Channel tunnel rail link, said John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport. The four are Eurorail CTRL; Hochtief, Costain, Nishimatsu, and Siemens; London and Continental; and Union Link.

VCI issue

The prospectus for video and audio publisher VCI values the group at pounds 58.3m at a share issue price of 150p.

World Markets

New York: Bargain-hunting and programme trades were said to be behind a 20.31-point gain by the Dow Jones average to 3,773.45 by the close.

Tokyo: Continuing active trade ended with the Nikkei average 7.6 points lower at 21,395.18.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index closed weaker but well off its low at 9,111.16, down 79.48.

Sydney: Early buying faded to leave the All Ordinaries index 7.3 points in arrears at 2,069.4.

Bombay: Profit-taking reduced gains, with the index 20.94 points ahead at 4,158.64.

Johannesburg: A steady bullion price and selective buying of industrials combined to push the index up 57 points to 5,643.

Frankfurt: Very quiet trade saw the DAX index end just 3.76 points firmer at 2,133.08.

Paris: Morning gains were given up as profit-taking set in for the final two hours. The CAC-40 index fell 7.67 points to 2,020.72.

Zurich: Uncertainty over interest rates sent the SPI slipping 7.43 points to 1,810.33.

London: Report, page 13.