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The Independent Online
IG METALL OPPOSES SHORT WORKING PLAN

Germany's IG Metall engineering workers' union said shorter working hours or a four-day week would be unacceptable if employers cut wages proportionately.

Klaus Zwickel, the union's chairman, said: 'Such a considerable reduction in working hours without compensation, as VW (Volkswagen AG) has suggested, is completely unimaginable.'

NORTH SEA FIND

Amerada Hess, the US oil company, announced yesterday a discovery in an area of the North Sea where no oil has previously been found. The well is in block 21, almost due east of Aberdeen. Amerada took the block over from Unocal when it bought most of its UK assets in March. The company would not reveal any details of its size.

AIRBORNE AGAIN

McDonnell Douglas, the St Louis aircraft and defence contractor, reported third-quarter earnings of dollars 101m compared with a loss of dollars 42m a year earlier. The figure, which amounted to dollars 3.62 a share, excluded a one-off tax benefit. The turnaround was led by a rebound in the military aircraft business.

BLOCKBUSTER SALE

Blockbuster, the home video retailer, is selling dollars 350m worth of stock to reduce its dollars 1bn debt. The sale will help to offset debt incurred by the dollars 600m investment in Viacom, which is bidding for Paramount Communications. It has also been announced that Blockbuster is joining with Sony Music Entertainment and Pace Entertainment to build and manage concert theatres in North America, Europe and elsewhere.

FOSTER'S DEAL

Foster's Brewing Group has sold its 45 per cent shareholding in Australia Meat Holdings for approximately Adollars 100m ( pounds 45m). The transaction represents a profit of about Adollars 47m. The buyers are the other current shareholders in AMH, ConAgra International and interests associated with the DR Johnston Group.

STRIKERS' DEMAND

Austrian Airline unions, on strike since last Friday, demanded the resignation of the company's top management. The unions want the airline to withdraw from the Alcazar project, which would see Austrian merge with three other airlines. About 10 per cent of the staff would be laid off if the project went ahead.

LIFFE TRADING HALTED

Liffe, the futures and options exchange, halted trading for half an hour yesterday when smoke from a refuse barge on the Thames came in through the air-conditioning system.

INTEREST RATE HOPES FADING

(First Edition)

Hopes of an early cut in interest rates continued to fade in the financial markets yesterday, with today's Bank of England quarterly inflation report expected to continue the cautious tone of recent comments by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Bank Governor.

The FT-SE index was more than 23 points down from Friday's close at one stage, but recovered with the help of the futures market to end 6.6 points down at 3,164.4. The pound closed above DM2.50 for the first time since August but the dollar was stong on a buoyant US purchasing managers' index.

GERMAN REBUFF

(First Edition)

Germany's IG Metall engineering workers' union said shorter working hours or a four-day week would be unacceptable if employers cut wages proportionately.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Shares moved narrowly but initial weakness was overcome and by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 12.02 at 3,692.61.

TOKYO: In slow trade the Nikkei average fell 264.73 to 19,438.24.

HONG KONG: Record turnover and another record high were achieved on strong foreign interest. The Hang Seng index soared 300.1 points to 9,629.19.

SYDNEY: Better-than-expected current account data helped the All Ordinaries to 2,132.4, up 20.2.

BOMBAY: New capital adequacy requirements to be imposed on brokers next month depressed sentiment. The index gave up 52.46 points to 2,621.28.

JOHANNESBURG: A falling bullion price sent gold shares sliding more than 3 per cent. With industrials marginally firmer the index shed nine points to 3,907.

FRANKFURT: Blue chips eased slightly while second tier stocks gained. The DAX index slipped 6.88 points to 2,062.12.

ZURICH: A late afternoon recovery from earlier profit-taking left the SPI 3.17 higher at 1,707.16.

AMSTERDAM: The EOE index registered another record, 385.71.

LONDON: Report, page 30.

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