Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
WALL STREET SURGE AS GOLD REVERSES

Wall Street was spurred to a record close of 3,500.03 points as the gold price slipped after the metal's recent steady gains reflecting fears about higher inflation and interest rates. Gold closed dollars 1.80 an ounce down at dollars 374.20, while the Dow Jones Average bounced from a 22-point deficit to a 55.64-point advance.

In London, continued speculative euphoria saw gold prices climb to their highest levels in 28 months, closing at dollars 380 an ounce - up dollars 11 but down on the day's high of dollars 384.50.

EXPENSIVE NADIR

Investigating the collapse of fugitive businessman Asil Nadir's Polly Peck empire has so far cost the Serious Fraud Office more than pounds 2.6m, the Government has admitted. The SFO has spent more than two years investigating the firm.

TRADE GAP WIDENS

The US trade deficit jumped 29 per cent in March to dollars 10.21bn, the Commerce Department said. It was the weakest US trade performance in nearly four years. Imports surged 9.7 per cent to a record dollars 49.2bn while exports gained 5.6 per cent to dollars 38.99bn.

NIKKO SETTLES CHARGES

Nikko Securities' US arm has settled charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it violated federal financial reporting and recording regulations. Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, the Nikko brokerage unit agreed to pay a dollars 1m civil penalty.

AEROSPACE PLEA

Westland, the West Country helicopter manufacturer, criticised the low level of government support for civil aerospace research, telling the Commons trade and industry select committee that unless the DTI's pounds 25m-a-year budget was increased fourfold, Britain's technological edge over competitors would be seriously eroded.

GENEROUS AMEC

Amec, the building group, which lost pounds 87.5m before tax and slashed its dividend by 71 per cent in 1992, gave its chief executive, Sir Alan Cockshaw, a 12.5 per cent pay rise to pounds 231,104.

FANS OF BRITISH GAS

Fewer than a third of British Gas customers would switch to a competitor if the Government abolished its monopoly on domestic supplies, but six in ten believed freedom of choice was important, according to a Mori survey.

C&W FIGHTS CLAIM

Cable and Wireless said it did not accept claims reportedly made against it by its local partners in Digitel Telecommunications Philippines and would defend itself against them. Digitel said C&W had refused to produce its share of a deposit in a dollars 1.48bn phones project and that Digitel's local partners were suing for damages.

COSIER ACCOUNTING

A working party is to investigate options for the reform of the accounting profession after five of the six organisations in the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies voted for closer ties.

CADBURY GUIDE

(First Edition)

Draft guidance for directors of listed companies on the treatment of the Cadbury Committee's 'going concern' recommendation was issued by a working party representing accountants in public practice and business.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: See above.

TOKYO: Shares closed higher on index-linked trading, with the Nikkei average 151.4 up at 20,380.79.

HONG KONG: Profit-taking interrupted the market's record-breaking run, taking 55.42 points off the Hang Seng index to 7,093.88.

SYDNEY: The sharp gain in the gold price was the main factor in a 4.7- point advance by the All Ordinaries index to 1,682.6.

JOHANNESBURG: Gold shares produced one of the biggest daily gains ever, with the gold index soaring more than 13 per cent. 'It has been pandemonium,' said one dealer.

FRANKFURT: Prices eased ahead of today's holiday, with the DAX index 11.07 points lower at 1,617.41.

PARIS: Trading was dominated by arbitrage business as the CAC-40 index dipped 9.62 to 1,836.78.

ZURICH: A shortened session saw little change. The SPI gained just 0.84 of a point to 1,386.11.

MILAN: Strong opening gains were pulled back by profit-taking, but the MIB ended with a healthy 2.58 per cent improvement at 1,233.

LONDON: Report, page 30.

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