Business and City in Brief

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GM cuts worker health premiums

Salaried workers at General Motors will have to bear much of the cost of their medical care under a new round of cutbacks announced yesterday by America's largest car maker.

GM, which pays health insurance premiums for 1.8 million employees, pensioners and dependants in the US, will cut its contribution to the health plans of almost 200,000 administrative and management staff.

Meanwhile, GM said it had sold its Allison Transmission division, based in Indianapolis, to ZF Friedrichshafen for an undisclosed amount, subject to the approval of the US and German governments.

German banks

The German cartel office is investigating allegations that German banks are abusing their market strength to keep interest on savings accounts low. It said proper competition in German markets would mean higher rates on savings accounts than the 2.5 to 2.75 per cent currently on offer. Banks to be examined include Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank.

US gloom

The US consumer confidence index fell to 58 per cent in August, the lowest since March, from 61 per cent in July, the Conference Board said.

ICI closures

ICI Australia will close six of the eight plants at its Rhodes factory in Sydney with the loss of 200 jobs.

Uni goes under

Uni Storebrand, Norway's biggest insurance company, went into public administration yesterday, hours after suspending payment on dollars 643m of debt.

Delta aircraft cut

Delta Air Lines said it may postpone up to dollars 1bn ( pounds 500m) in new aircraft set for delivery in 1993 and 1994 in a bid to restore profitability.

Royal retirement

Royal Bank of Scotland Group said Sir Michael Herries and Jimmy James are to retire from the board.

Car sales rise

Sales of North American-made cars and trucks in the US rose in mid-August as truck sales continued to outpace passenger car purchases. Detroit's Big Three manufacturers and the seven Japanese transplant firms with US production plants sold 290,840 cars and light trucks compared with 234,612 vehicles in the same period last year.

TWA low-flyers

Pilots at TWA Airlines said they had agreed to 15 per cent salary cuts over three years to enable the company to revitalise operations and restore viability.

World Markets

New York: In quiet trading shares wiped out earlier declines with the Dow Jones Average up 4.05 points at 3,232.22 by the close.

Paris: The CAC 40 index closed 1.30 per cent down at 1,667.72 after opinion polls suggested French voters were swinging against Maastricht.

Frankfurt: The market plunged to an 18-month low with the DAX index 29.83 points down at 1,468.91.

Milan: The MIB index closed 1.4 per cent down at 774.

Tokyo: Stocks ended lower with the Nikkei average down 247.19 points to 16,380.77.

Hong Kong: After a renewed bout of overseas selling the Hang Seng Index ended down 99.44 points at 5,291.49.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries Index fell 22.2 to 1,517.3, its lowest close in 14 months.

Singapore: The 30-share Straits Times Industrial Index rose 8.14 points to 1,338.91.

Johannesburg: The overall index dropped 25 points to 3,123.

London: Report, page 33