Business and City in Brief

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Power price surges queried

Offer, the electricity regulator, has asked National Power, PowerGen and Nuclear Electric for an explanation of unexpected movements in prices.

If they fail to satisfy the regulator's concerns, Professor Stephen Littlechild, the director-general of Offer, may refer the companies to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

C&W post

Cable & Wireless will announce today that it has appointed Hywel James, head of public relations at the BBC, as its director of corporate affairs. He replaces John Eyre, who left the group last week.

Air merger

Air Canada and Canadian Airlines, Canada's principal airlines, have decided to resume negotiations on a merger.

Coal closure

British Coal is to close Thurcroft colliery in South Yorkshire, dashing the hopes of miners who wanted to operate the pit privately. It said the miners' group had failed to keep up payments for the care of the pit while they tried to raise venture capital funds and government grants.

Scottish jobs

Motorola said it will invest an additional dollars 77m ( pounds 40.8m) in its semiconductor plant in East Kilbride, Scotland, creating an extra 150 jobs.

Court order

The High Court has ordered Asset Management Ltd, Roger William Shrubb and Financial Centres Ltd to pay pounds 2m into court for distribution to AML investors. AML was wound up on 17 June on petition of the Financial Supervision Commission of the Isle of Man.

US gloom

US consumer confidence dropped unexpectedly sharply in July, largely because of higher unemployment and continuing consumer debt. The index fell from 72.6 in June to 61.

Views sought

The Office of Fair Trading is seeking comments on rules published last week by the Securities and Investments Board and Lautro on life insurance marketing. It must decide if they are anti-competitive.

Spanish sell-off

Privatisations will generate Ptas420bn (pounds 2.4bn) for the Spanish government by 1994, according to the Economy Minister, Carlos Solchaga.

Hickson buy

Hickson International has agreed to buy 80 per cent of Dumar Chemicals, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for dollars 6m in cash and an additional performance-related payment of up to dollars 1.5m.

World Markets

New York: Stocks surged in hectic trading on a rally in bonds and strong earnings from Chrysler. The Dow Jones average closed 51.87 up at 3,334.07.

Tokyo: A dull session ended with the Nikkei average 53.3 points higher at 15,426.64.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunting on individual stocks lifted the market more than 2 per cent despite continued institutional selling. The Hang Seng index, at 5,782.63, was 118.24 stronger.

Sydney: Recovering from early lows, the All Ordinaries index closed 0.9 easier at 1,605.4.

Bombay: An early surge triggered profit-taking, leaving the index 26.42 better at 2,830.57.

Frankfurt: Sharp falls in Allianz and Daimler-Benz dragged the market down, with the DAX 7.45 off at 1,610.64.

Paris: Encouraged by Wall Street's performance, investors gave the the CAC-40 index a 13.65-point lift to 1,769.

Milan: Moderate gains ended a seven-day losing streak. The MIB added four points to 784.