Business and City in Brief

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Stagecoach buys London operators

Stagecoach, the Scottish-based bus operator, has paid pounds 25m cash for two London bus companies - the East London franchise and South East London and Kent.

The two companies are second and third of 10 London bus companies to be privatised. On Monday CentreWest London was bought by its management for pounds 25m.

Scottish boost

A pounds 250m expansion by Motorola, the US electronics company, will see the creation of 250 jobs in Scotland. Motorola says its biggest European investment to date will enable its plant at East Kilbride to produce the most powerful silicon wafers manufactured in Europe.

US ousts Japan

The US has replaced Japan as the world's most competitive economy, according to the 14th annual World Competitiveness Report published today. Singapore is second in a table covering 41 developed and large developing countries, with Japan third after heading the list for eight years. Germany is ranked fifth, after Hong Kong, with Britain 14th.

Smell of success

A return to spending on perfume and hand luggage helped Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's net profits to rise 35 per cent to Fr1.26bn ( pounds 156m). Profits last time fell 28 per cent to Fr935m because of a slump in champagne sales.

Oil strike ends

One of Nigeria's leading oil unions, Pengassan, has suspended its strike, which was called to protest at the annulment of presidential elections.

Newspaper stake

Irish Independent Newspapers bought a 6.6 per cent stake in the Portuguese newspaper publishing group Journalgeste for Ir pounds 5.9m in shares. The group said this was its first publishing investment on the Continent and represented a strategic move for Independent.

Vodafone move

Vodafone is investing pounds 16m for a 20 per cent stake in Astec, an independent cellular service provider - one of the middlemen that buy airtime from Vodafone and Cellnet and sell it on to consumers in a package.

Airbus order

Airbus, the European civil aircraft manufacturer, confirmed an order worth more than pounds 550m from International Lease Finance Corporation of the US. The Los Angeles group is taking five Airbus A340 aircraft and nine A320s. British Aerospace has a 20 per cent stake in Airbus and builds the wings for all the consortium's aircraft.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips ended a three-day slide as moderate buying lifted the the Dow Jones Industrial Average 13.12 points to 3,898.70 by the close.

Tokyo: The listing of Japan Telecom failed to stimulate the market. The Nikkei average eased 15.2 points to 20,393.98.

Hong Kong: A spurt of bargain- hunting erased early losses to push the Hang Seng index 73.93 points higher to 10,035.97.

Sydney: Volume was thin as the All Ordinaries index moved up 8.1 points to 2,103.6.

Bombay: In a shortened trading session the index dropped two points to close at 4,508.75.

Johannesburg: The rally continued unabated, with across-the- board gains and the overall index topping 6,000. It finished 52 points to the good at 6,008.

Frankfurt: A steadier bond market gave some support, but the DAX index surrendered 8.62 points to 2,165.9 in quiet trade.

Paris: A downward trend gathered momentum in late trade, leaving the CAC-40 index 36.75 points adrift at 1,961.45.

Zurich: Profit-taking lowered the SPI 10.91 points to 1,751.08.

London: Report, page 32.

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