Business and City in Brief

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Council tax to be left out of RPI

The Retail Price Index Advisory Committee recommended that financial relief for the transition from the poll tax to the council tax should not be reflected in the RPI in April.

The decision has a negligible effect on inflation. It is intended to make the impact of the new tax consistent with the outgoing community charge.

Brokers pay up

The US divisions of three Japanese brokerages, Daiwa, Nomura and Yamaichi, have reportedly agreed to fines of dollars 100,000- dollars 600,000 to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that they kept improper records of trades and staff.

Milken's cancer

Michael Milken, the former junk-bond financier who was freed from a minimum security prison in California last month, has cancer of the prostate. Mr Milken, 45, said he was optimistic treatment would be successful.

Job cuts denied

British Gas last night denied reports that it would announce 2,000 further job losses when it reported its annual results today. A spokesman said there was no announcement in addition to the 1,200 jobs which the company said last month would go.

Mentor payout

The creditors of Mentor Insurance, the Bermudan group that collapsed in 1985 with liabilities of dollars 790m, have agreed a scheme of arrangement to speed up liquidation. Ernst & Young, the liquidators, estimate the final payout, by the end of next year, will exceed 40 cents in the dollar.

EC warns Russia

The European Community is threatening to ban direct aluminium imports from the former Soviet Union unless Russia stops undercutting world market prices.

Good bet for 2,000

Ladbroke, the UK's biggest betting shop chain, will create up to 2,000 part-time jobs in the wake of the extended summer opening hours agreed by the Government last month.

Tunnel warning

P&O could lose pounds 145m of turnover once the Channel tunnel is fully operational, according to Gareth Cooper, managing director of Stena Sealink, while his company stood to lose pounds 45m of revenue. He warned the tunnel could fall pounds 150m short of revenue targets in its first full year if its traffic predictions were inaccurate.

Seeboard freeze

Seeboard, the regional electricity company serving south-east England, said it would freeze published tariffs at present levels for domestic and most business customers from 1 April.

Share campaign

(First Edition)

Proshare, the government-backed group campaigning for wider share-ownership, launched a new services division to advise companies on expanding shareholder bases.

World Markets

New York: Bargain-hunting after recent falls boosted the Dow Jones Industrial Average 33.23 points to 3,356.50 by the close.

Tokyo: Worry about the effect of the strong yen on corporate earnings lowered the Nikkei average 64.21 points to 16,798.94.

Hong Kong: On reduced turnover, the Hang Seng index moved up 28.5 to 6,177.69.

Sydney: Taking its cue from Wall Street, the All Ordinaries index slipped 3.3 to 1,605.

Johannesburg: Gold shares were well supported by foreign investors, but the overall index eased nine points to 3,438.

Paris: Erasing early losses, the CAC-40 index closed 9.26 points to the good at 1,953.39.

Frankfurt: Futures-related selling carried the DAX index down 17.34 points to 1,644.24.

Milan: Fiat gained strongly, but with other stocks weak the MIB lost one point to 1,110.

Istanbul: The index hit its fourth record close in a week, climbing 215.26 to 6,091.58.

London: Report, page 27.