Business and City in Brief

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A bitter dispute has erupted between French-owned Brittany Ferries and P&O European Ferries over the British company's plans, expected to be announced today, to operate a ferry service between Portsmouth and Bilbao from the end of April.

Brittany Ferries has complained to the competitions directorate of the European Commission in Brussels that the proposed ferry service will be supported by an illegal subsidy from the Basque government in northern Spain. If the service fails to break even in the first three years, the Basques have said that they will buy up to pounds 1.7m worth of ticket vouchers each year for the 'socially deprived'.


Paine Webber, the US securities house, said Paine Webber International Futures Ltd was pulling out of the coffee, cocoa, sugar and cotton commodities trading business in the UK and US because of low profits. Fewer than 40 jobs, mostly in the US, will go from the 165- strong derivatives unit.


The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange today launches a medium-term German government bond contract called a bobl. It will compete directly with a contract on the DTB, Frankfurt's futures exchange.


European Community unemployment in November rose to 9.9 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 9.8 per cent in October, and 9.1 per cent in November 1991, the EC's Eurostat statistical service said.


The European Community's consumer price index rose 3.7 per cent in December from a year earlier, after a year-on- year rise of 3.8 per cent in November, the EC's Eurostat statistical service said. The 3.7 per cent EC annual inflation rate for 1992 compares with 4.8 per cent in 1991, and is the lowest year-on-year rate since August 1988.


Air France estimated its 1992 consolidated loss at Fr3.2bn, in line with forecasts. The French state-owned airline said in a document released after a board meeting that the company now budgets for the loss to be halved in 1993.


The German electronics group Grundig said it expected to report a loss of around DM200m in the current 1992/3 financial year which ends on 31 March.


The Government has cleared BOC's acquisition of Courage's carbon dioxide gas cylinder business.


NEW YORK: In moderate trading as the Clinton administration moved in, the Dow Jones Average fell 14.04 points to 3,241.95 by the close.

TOKYO: Profit-taking and arbitrage unwinding erased all the week's gains. The Nikkei average fell 288.46 to 16,510.18.

HONG KONG: Shrinking buying interest was in evidence as the Hang Seng index dropped 20.88 points to 5,877.02.

SYDNEY: Stocks climbed out of the doldrums to give the All Ordinaries index a 2.7-point gain, finishing at 1,521.8.

BOMBAY: The index retreated 13.57 points to 2,531.55.

JOHANNESBURG: A day of negative trade saw the overall index lose 22 points to 3,360.

PARIS: With hopes of a cut in German interest rates fading, the CAC-40 index gave up 18.92 points to 1,818.82.

FRANKFURT: A technical correction left the DAX index 3.95 points lower at 1,574.88.

MILAN: The MIB eased 0.56 per cent to close at 1,072.

LONDON: Report page 29.