Business and City in Brief

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Britain's reserves of gold and foreign currency rose by an underlying dollars 62m in April, slightly less than City analysts had expected, Treasury figures showed. The reserves totalled dollars 41.66bn at the end of the month.

The figures had little impact on the currency markets, where the Bank of England is thought to have been exploiting the pound's strength in recent weeks to sell sterling and rebuild the reserves.


Laurence Cooklin, who was sacked as chief executive of Burton Group in February 1992 with a pounds 773,000 pay-off, was appointed to head the UK jewellery division of Ratners Group. He is understood to be on a two-year contract paying a salary of about pounds 200,000.


The US recovery regained some of its steam after a downturn in March caused partly by bad weather, the Federal Reserve said. In its 'beige book' on economic activity, released monthly, the Fed reported 'generally modest improvement in economic conditions across much of the country'.


The sale of all or part of the Government's 22 per cent in BT is to go ahead in July. Around 150 organisations with 10,000 high street outlets will be authorised share shops processing transactions by private investors. Those using the shops will receive preferential treatment in the allocation of shares.


Auditors commissioned by France's new conservative government are expected to report that the country's 1993 budget deficit will be around FR340bn ( pounds 42bn) without remedial measures - double the Fr165bn target set by the Socialist government last autumn.


RPC Group, the plastic packaging company that is coming to the market later this month, reported a 40 per cent rise in operating profits to pounds 6.95m in the year to 31 March in its pathfinder prospectus.


Moody's Investors Service is downgrading its rating on dollars 62.5bn of Italian debt from Aa to A1 because of uncertainty about 'the ability of future (Italian) governments to maintain the required austerity over an extended period'.


The Treasury ruled out making concessions in the controversial Budget changes that abolish tax relief against the costs of exploring for oil and gas in the North Sea. Meanwhile, Shell, the oil giant, welcomed the changes and said it plans to accelerate the development of some of its UK fields.


Peter Sutherland, Ireland's former European Community commissioner, has confirmed that he is willing to accept nomination as the next director-general of Gatt.


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The European Commission has conditionally accepted an offer by the German steel group Kloeckner Werke to repay 60 per cent of a DM175m (pounds 70m) loan the firm received from European Coal and Steel Community funds.


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Krupp Stahl is to close its east German cold-rolling mill at its works in Oranienburg, east Germany. The mill, bought fron the Treuhand privatisation agency in 1990, employs about 270.


NEW YORK: Investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of today's employment data. The Dow Jones average closed up 2.91 points at 3,449.10.

TOKYO: Closed (holiday).

HONG KONG: More than 50 points adrift early on, the Hang Seng index rebounded to close 2.04 points higher at 6,829.33.

SYDNEY: Strength in gold stocks and the banking sector brought a rally after a weak start. The All Ordinaries index ended with a 10.4- point gain at 1,674.7.

BOMBAY: A late spurt on hopes of lower carry-forward charges at tomorrow's end of the trading account gave the index a 40.33- point advance to 2,168.7.

PARIS: In a market torn between fears of prolonged French recession and hopes of lower interest rates the CAC-40 index edged up 2.71 points to 1,926.34.

FRANKFURT: Dull trade driven by technical factors lowered the DAX index 4.21 points to 1,623.16.

ZURICH: Easier money market rates helped the Swiss Performance Index to 1,344.56, up 7.83 points.

MILAN: A correction following two days of gains took the MIB down 0.83 per cent to 1,196.

LONDON: Report, page 30.