Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
CBI wants public spending cut

The Confederation of British Industry urged the Government to slash its public spending plans by confining contingency reserves to real emergencies rather than using them to soak up departmental overspending.

It said that pounds 5bn should be slashed from the pounds 263bn spending ceiling for 1995-96, a further pounds 7bn from the 1996-97 total of pounds 272bn and pounds 12bn from the 1997-98 total of pounds 269bn.

BT sale row

The BT repair service operation, which employs almost 600 people and maintains telephone network equipment, payphones and City dealer boards, is to be sold. Staff at its Enfield site in north London are opposing the deal and have threatened industrial action.

More convictions

Thirteen company directors were convicted in the first quarter of 1994 following inquiries by the Department of Trade and Industry's Investigations Division, compared with three in the previous quarter.

Next venture

Next has signed an agreement with The Limited to open Bath and Body Works stores in Britain, beginning in the autumn.

PIA backed

Three trade associations for independent financial advisers, previously hostile to the Personal Investment Authority, yesterday encouraged their members to apply to join. The move came as the Securities and Investments Board formally recognised the body as the new regulator for retail investment products from 18 July. The deadline for membership applications is 1 October.

C&G decision

Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society is to end its moratorium on opening new investment accounts 'pretty soon' following a second High Court hearing into its proposed takeover by Lloyds Bank.

Insurance deal

Standard Life, Europe's biggest mutual insurer, is moving into health insurance with the acquisition of a subsidiary of Municipal Mutual for an undisclosed sum. Prime Health, formed in 1987, is the fifth-biggest health insurer in Britain.

Plan shelved

The transport group NFC has abandoned its planned scrip dividend because of the fall in the company's share price. The price of the new ordinary shares was to be 232.8p compared with last night's closing price of 191p. The 20,600 shareholders who opted for the scrip will now be paid the full dividend of 1.4p.

World Markets

New York: Shares staged a modest rally, helped by firmer bonds, and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 16.80 points at 3,724.77.

Tokyo: A late burst of bargain- hunting took prices off their lows, leaving the Nikkei average 231.84 points weaker at 20,581.32.

Hong Kong: Shares closed narrowly mixed, with the Hang Seng 19.06 higher at 8,876.84.

Sydney: Turning upwards after recent declines, the All Ordinaries index gained 17.3 to 2,010.9.

Bombay: Selling by speculators and mutual funds took the index 21.59 points lower to 4,311.39.

Johannesburg: The budget had little effect on sentiment as the index eased 15 points to 5,706.

Frankfurt: Firmer bonds and the steadier dollar boosted sentiment. The DAX index added 11.15 points to 1,994.42.

Paris: Shares and bond futures rebounded, with the CAC-40 index adding 26.26 to 1,917.04.

Zurich: Short-covering helped the SPI to record a 24.95-point advance to close at 1,716.04.

London: Report, page 36.