Business and City in Brief

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Unilever trades ice-cream maker

Unilever, the food and soap group, has sold the German ice- cream maker Warncke to Nestle, the Swiss-based food manufacturer, for an undisclosed price. The disposal was forced by the European competition authorities in return for granting approval to Unilever for its acquisition of Ortiz-Miko, the French ice-cream manufacturer and frozen food processor.

Construction up

Britain's construction output in the second quarter was the highest for more than two years. It rose 1.3 per cent compared with the previous quarter, with the biggest increases in new housing and the private industrial sector.

Sheffield soars

Sheffield Insulations, the building materials group, announced a threefold increase in first-half pre-tax profits to pounds 9.1m. Earnings per share rose 55 per cent from 5.5p to 8.5p and the interim dividend was 11 per cent higher at 2p. Much of the increase came from acquisitions.

pounds 3bn aircraft orders

Orders worth more than pounds 3bn were placed during the Farnborough Air Show, signifying an end to recession in the aerospace industry, organisers said last night. They included pounds 570m of business for Airbus aircraft and a pounds 250m Boeing deal.

Ministers meet

European economic ministers were last night in Lindau, Germany, to discuss progress towards the goal of a single currency, as their foreign minister counterparts consider the desirability of a two-speed approach to economic and political union.

Bifu ballot

Bifu, the financial services union, is to ballot 4,300 members at the Guardian insurance group over a series of one-day strikes. The company has imposed a pay deal worth 4.8 per cent but with no across-the- board inflation adjustment, which Bifu has demanded.

More to market

Seventeen companies came to the stock market in August, bringing the figure for eight months to 177, against 180 in the whole of 1993. New companies have raised pounds 8.6bn so far this year, more than three times the figure for all of last year.

Cheaper numbers

BT is to cut the price of its disc phone number information service from pounds 950 to pounds 299 a year.

TWA TWA has asked us to point out that, contrary to an impression that may have been given by a report in Tuesday's edition, it successfully emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 1993.

World Markets

New York: The producer prices figures hit shares and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 33.65 points at 3,874.81.

Tokyo: A late round of selling wiped out gains. The Nikkei average eased 19.9 to 19,897.88.

Hong Kong: Turning sharply down after an opening surge, the Hang Seng index closed 5.96 points lower at 10,145.02.

Sydney: Disappointing company results and weaker futures drove the All Ordinaries index down 18.5 points to 2,070.6.

Wellington: Failing to sustain an early rally, the index ended 0.77 lighter at 2,158.71.

Bombay: Closed (holiday).

Johannesburg: Mild profit-taking after recent highs left the index 49 points weaker at 5,958.

Paris: The US producer prices data sent the CAC-40 index tumbling. By the close it had surrendered 34.57 points to 1,948.83.

Frankfurt: Wall Street's overnight gains boosted the DAX index to 2,185.15, up 12.78.

Zurich: Falling US bonds and the weaker dollar helped to lower the SPI 13.12 points to 1,743.69.

London: Report, page 13.