Business and City in Brief

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The United Auto Workers union has reached agreement with General Motors on a dollars 450m early retirement package for hourly workers. The plan is believed to be aimed at reducing a pool of 22,000 hourly employees who have lost their regular production-line jobs. The plan calls for GM to hire one replacement worker for every two workers over 62 who retire early.


Contractors in Trans-Manche Link, the Channel tunnel consortium, said negotiations with the operator, Eurotunnel, on project cost problems had been 'interrupted'. The total offered by Eurotunnel and the general terms of payment remained unacceptable.


The London Clearing House is to accept US securities as collateral for dealings in the futures and options markets, which could increase the attraction of London dealings.


Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the ratings of four UK mortgage-backed securities while maintaining ratings of 14 others.


The construction group Tarmac confirmed that it had commissioned a report on its property division by the accountants Coopers and Lybrand, but said it would not be completed for another two weeks. A spokesman said an Independent on Sunday report that it might have to write off up to pounds 120m against property developments was largely correct.


James Kinnear is to retire as president and chief executive of Texaco. Alfred DeCrane, chairman, will also become chief executive.


BAA's airports handled 5.3 million passengers in November, an increase of 3.9 per cent on the same month last year.


Airbus Industrie expects new aircraft orders before the end of the year, a spokesman said. These could partly offset last week's cancellation by Northwest Airlines of 74 orders.


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French consumer prices were unchanged in November, with a year-on-year rise of 2.1 per cent, the National Statistics Institute said


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Sanyo Securities is to close subsidiaries in France and Australia and a representative office in Germany, reducing its overseas operations to five subsidiaries and two representative offices.


NEW YORK: Ahead of Friday's triple witching shares were becalmed. The Dow Jones Average was 11.88 points down at 3,292.20 at the close.

HONG KONG: Bargain-hunting nudged the Hang Seng index 14.55 ahead to 5,267.73.

TOKYO: Receding hopes of lower bank rates knocked 151.05 points off the Nikkei Average to 17,289.97.

SYDNEY: A sharp rise in the futures index prompted renewed buying, pushing the All Ordinaries index 11.8 points higher to a close of 1,512.4.

JOHANNESBURG: A weaker financial rand investment unit boosted the gold index 17 to 833.

MILAN: The MIB index shed 16 to 818 in thin trading.

PARIS: Worries over the prospects for corporate earnings sent the CAC-40 index down by 20.44 points to a close of 1,738.26.

FRANKFURT: The DAX index eased 6.26 to 1,469.75 on lack of interest.

LONDON: Report, page 21.