Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
British Steel

warns of job cuts Sir Robert Scholey, outgoing chairman of , warned of more job cuts at the company's annual meeting. He said was operating in 'very, very difficult conditions'.

Costs would be brought down further, Sir Robert said. 'We are determined to emerge as sharp as a knife as far as manufacturing costs are concerned. We shall have to shrink further in our labour costs.'

Bank lending UK banks lent pounds 4.4bn for house purchases in the second quarter this year, compared with pounds 3.4bn in the previous quarter, according to the latest Bank of England statistics. The number of approvals was comparable to the same period last year, but the average amount approved for all dwellings rose to pounds 45,200.

Oakeley appeal

An appeal has been lodged in the High Court by 39 Lloyd's underwriting members whose affairs were managed by the Oakeley Vaughan agency against an earlier judgment that Lloyd's did not have a duty of care in how the members were managed. The Oakeley Vaughan members have suffered losses of more than pounds 5m.

Ford in black

The Ford Motor Company announced a net profit of dollars 502.4m ( pounds 266m) for the second quarter of 1992, against a loss of dollars 323.5m for the same period last year. This takes the company's six months total net profit to dollars 840.3m, against dollars 1.2bn in the previous half. Second quarter sales rose from dollars 23.8bn to dollars 26.8bn, bringing turnover for the six months to dollars 51.4bn, against dollars 45.2bn.

Norton Rose top Norton Rose is top of the league of law firms involved in UK public takeovers, according to Acquistions Monthly. It was involved in 10 bids with a total value of pounds 4.5bn in the first half of this year. Clifford Chance was second.

Hertz for Kazaks

Hertz, one of the world's leading car rental companies, announced plans to become the first car rental company in Kazakhstan, the former Soviet Union's second largest republic.

Gold tax blow

A European Community plan to adopt a VAT regime for gold could put pressure on Luxembourg's tax-friendly gold market, traders say. For years, higher VAT rates on gold in neighbouring Belgium and Germany have lured investors to Luxembourg, with its zero taxation on gold and tight bank secrecy laws. But the European Commission was asked by EC finance ministers this week to propose a directive setting uniform rules and rates of VAT on the sale of gold.

World Markets

New York: Falling long-term interest rates sent bond investors in search of better returns in equities. The Dow closed 45.12 points up at 3,379.19.

Tokyo: Bad debt rumours left the Nikkei average down 330.69 points at 15,095.95.

Singapore: Share prices closed higher on bargain hunting. The Straits Times index rose 17.06 points to 1,429.59.

Hong Kong: The Hang Seng index closed up 74.66 points at 5,857.29 after selling clipped an earlier surge of 111.26 points.

Sydney: The All-Ordinaries index gained 6.9 points to 1,612.3.

Taipei: Taiwan's weighted stock index closed at an 18- month low of 3,947.32, down 11.78 points.

Frankfurt: German shares saw their biggest one-day gain for nine weeks. The DAX index rose 17.51 points to 1,628.15.

Paris: Bargain-hunters lifted the CAC-40 index by 32.63 points to 1,801.63.

Vienna: Austrian shares soared in active trading. The ATX index rose 17.43 points to 790.95.