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Canterbury Life fined pounds 80,000

Canterbury Life, part of Refuge Group, the listed home service insurer, was fined pounds 80,000 by Lautro, the life insurance regulator, for failing to ensure its sales staff were properly vetted, trained and supervised.

Canterbury Life has reviewed the advice given to 1,012 of its 20,000 customers since 1988, and has repaid pounds 650 of premiums to four policyholders. For reasons that were unclear last night, Lautro has not required Canterbury Life to check the policies sold to the other 19,000 customers.

Norton boss quits

David MacDonald, chief executive of the British motorcycle company Norton, resigned as the company was about to announce details of its refinancing with a consortium of Canadian investors. His resignation was a protest at 18 workers being made redundant while he was on holiday. 'We have been through a lot of grief as a company and it seemed fundamentally wrong to make these people redundant,' he said. Details of the rescue package, which could include the write-off of pounds 7.5m owed to Midland Bank, are expected on Monday.

Coutts manoeuvres

Coutts Consulting appeared to have outmanoeuvred Barry Topple, former chief executive, who has been using his preference shares to block a financial restructuring that would allow dividend payments to resume. Mr Topple has been in a complex dispute with Coutts. The company is selling Eynsham Hall, a subsidiary, to another part of the group to realise a profit which, it says, will restore distributable reserves to a level at which dividends can legally be paid, possibly next year.

US jobless unchanged

The US unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 per cent in September, the same as in August. Non-farm payroll employment rose by 156,000 in September, after falling a revised 41,000 in August. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since July 1991.

Fewer French failures

The number of company failures in France declined in August, with 3,723 collapses against 5,555 in July and 5,128 in June, the national statistics institute said. August's total compared with a year-ago figure of 4,785, and 5,144 in July 1992.

German prices up

Consumer prices in western Germany rose a final 0.1 per cent in September from August and were up 4 per cent year-on-year, the Federal Statistics Office said.

Rolls sales flat

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a division of Vickers, sold 1,033 limousines worldwide during the first nine months of the year, against 1,019 during the same period last year.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips inched higher with traders nervous about next week's third-quarter earnings reports. The Dow Jones average ended up 1.11 points at 3,584.74.

Tokyo: A late recovery after index-linked selling enabled the Nikkei average to close 113.01 points to the good at 20,378.64.

Hong Kong: A technical correction lowered the Hang Seng 61.23 points to 8,005.56.

Sydney: Gains by a handful of major issues pulled the broader market ahead. The All Ordinaries index added 3.7 to 2,026.2.

Bombay: Prices rose on expectation of lower carry-forward charges. The index finished 21.72 points higher at 2,673.86.

Johannesburg: With gold still in the ascendant - up another 4.3 per cent - the overall index put on 51 points to 3,870.

Frankfurt: Continued optimism took the DAX index to a record 2,005.01, a gain of 7.97.

Zurich: Also at a record high - for the third time this week - the SPI closed at 1,599.14.

Paris: With the interest rate outlook still uncertain, the CAC-40 rose 8.97 to 2,156.38.

London: Report, page 19.