Business and City in Brief

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STRIKE AT HANSON OFFSHOOT RESUMES

A strike is set to resume at 30 pits operated by Hanson's Peabody Coal subsidiary in the US following the expiry of a two-month contract extension yesterday. No new talks are scheduled between the United Mine Workers, which represents the 7,500 miners, and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which groups Hanson and 11 other coal companies.

The mineworkers seek a new contract guaranteeing that unemployed union members are hired first at new mines opened by the companies.

GOLD PRICE CLIMBS

Gold jumped to its highest fix since August last year at dollars 356.15 an ounce after a morning fix of dollars 353.40. Dealers see the price ranging between dollars 353 and dollars 357 an ounce in the next few days, with a possible rise above dollars 360 later this week. An afternoon fix in London of dollars 357 would break a downtrend that started with the end of the bull market in 1987.

Julian Baring profile, page 29

TUNNEL APPOINTMENT

Neville Simms, chief executive of Tarmac, is to take over as British chairman of Transmanche Link, the consortium building the Channel tunnel, in succession to Joe Dwyer, Wimpey's chief executive.

JAGUAR LEAPS

Sales of Jaguars in the all-important American luxury car market rose by 27 per cent in the first four months of the year, reaching 3,572 compared with 2,815 last year. Over the same period production at its Coventry plant was up by 55 per cent at just under 10,000 cars despite a reduction of almost 1,000 in shop-floor workers.

SAATCHI SALE

Saatchi & Saatchi, the ailing advertising group, yesterday announced the disposal of Howard Marlboro Group to MarkitStar of the US for an expected dollars 14.8m ( pounds 9.7m). The move is part of Saatchi's strategy to withdraw from non-core activities and reduce its estimated pounds 190m debt.

EC BLOCKS PLAN

Proposals for restructuring Italy's loss-making steel maker Ilva have been opposed by the EC Commission, casting doubt on the industry's capacity for self-regulation. The EC competition commissioner, Karel van Miert, told industry ministers the proposed 650bn lire ( pounds 281m) capital injection constituted state aid and was not offset by capacity cuts. The EC is looking for a reduction of at least 3 million tonnes a year.

BCCI MAN REMANDED

The head of Bank of Credit and Commerce International's treasury division, Syed Akbar, 48, was further remanded in police custody until 7 May at the City of London Magistrates' Court on 16 charges of falsifying accounts and documents for accounting purposes.

SHARE DATABASE

John Woolgar, a former City stockbroker, has set up New Issue Register, a database of private investors wishing to participate in new share issues. In particular, it hopes to provide greater access to share placings by small companies.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Prices were steady despite further data showing a slowdown in economic recovery. By the close the Dow Jones average was down 0.27 points at 3,446.19.

TOKYO: Closed (holiday).

HONG KONG: Bargain-hunters pushed shares higher as most investors awaited the outcome of Governor Chris Patten's talks in Washington. The Hang Seng index added 37.18 points to 6,827.29.

SYDNEY: Recovering almost all of its early losses, the All Ordinaries index closed just one-fifth of a point easier at 1,664.3.

FRANKFURT: Nervous trade resulting from political worries saw the DAX lose 1.79 points to 1,627.37.

PARIS: Continuing its renewed slide, the CAC-40 index gave up 13.34 points to 1,923.63.

ZURICH: With buyers focusing on drug stocks and Nestle shares, the Swiss Performance Index gained 1.09 points to 1,336.73.

MILAN: The MIB came off its early peak after the Bank of Italy's repo rate rose unexpectedly. However, the indicator still posted a closing gain of 1.34 per cent at 1,206.

LONDON: Report, page 28.

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