Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Footsie powers to a record close

The FT-SE index of 100 leading London shares surged through 3,100 for the first time yesterday as keen buyers in the US, Japan and Europe helped to add nearly pounds 4.5bn to the value of the market.

The index ended the day 21.4 points better at 3,100.6, a gain of about 100 points in a fortnight. Gilts prices closed sharply higher at the long end despite the announcement that the Government is issuing pounds 800m of existing bonds in tranches, and some European markets gained ground on hopes of lower interest rates.

Market report, page 21

Tonic for Zeneca

Family doctors in the UK will be allowed to prescribe Zestril, the Zeneca drug used as a treatment for high blood pressure, for mild cases of congestive heart failure. The drug company, formerly ICI's pharmaceuticals arm, said the move represented a significant step for further growth of the Zestril business in the UK and an important development in Zeneca's worldwide cardiovascular business. Sales of Zestril products grew 31 per cent last year to give worldwide revenues of pounds 294m. Growth continued in the first half of 1993 with sales up 64 per cent, although this was aided by exchange rate gains.

French sales plunge

French retail sales fell sharply in May, with the seasonally adjusted index of retailers' turnover 5.7 per cent down on the average of the previous three months. Sales in the non-food sector registered a 7.9 per cent decline.

Rothmans green light

Rothmans International, the tobacco and luxury goods giant, said its 50 per cent-owned Malaysian company had won government approval to merge with Rothmans' d Singaporean company under one regional holding group.

Poland devalues

Poland's central bank devalued the zloty by about 8 per cent against a basket of currencies and by 7 per cent against the dollar in an attempt to lift exports and cut a dollars 1.1bn trade deficit.

Ferruzzi assets grab

A Milan court confirmed the seizure of assets worth L500bn ( pounds 468m) from former executives of Montedison, Italy's largest private sector agro-industrial and chemical group. The sequestration order involved members of the Ferruzzi family, which had operational control of Montedison through their holding company, Ferruzzi Finanziaria.

Working partners

Substantial business improvements have followed the establishment of close 'partnerships' between buyers and suppliers in ompanies surveyed by Partnership Sourcing. The survey showed 85 per cent improved service to customers, 75 per cent cut costs, 72 per cent reduced stocks and 70 per cent improved quality. A total of 356 companies took part in the survey.

World Markets

New York: Profit-taking encouraged by lower bond prices pushed prices down, but a late rally saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average close 7.55 points down at 3,643.18.

Tokyo: Renewed talk of an interest rate cut encouraged investors. The Nikkei average climbed 199.92 points to close at 20,791.68.

Hong Kong: After falling more than 50 points in the morning, the Hang Seng index recovered to end 26.1 points lower at 7,422.98.

Sydney: Continued strength in the media sector, led by News Corporation, helped the All Ordinaries index to 1,948.6, a gain of 7.1 points.

Johannesburg: Gold shares fell across the board as the bullion price failed to recover and, with industrials also easier, the overall index lost 37 points to 4,017.

Paris: Interest rate hopes brought another record close for the CAC- 40 index - 2,183.88, up 10.27.

Frankfurt: The DAX index firmed 3.45 points to 1,904.6 in moderate technically-driven trade.

Zurich: After trading in a tight range, the Swiss Performance Index ended 2.89 up at 1,567.16.

Milan: Strong bond futures led a recovery from opening falls, lifting the MIB 0.58 per cent to 1,379.

London: Report, page 21.

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