Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
German jobless figure rises

Unemployment in western Germany is rising again after a surprise fall in June, and is expected to show an increase of 100,000 to 3.7 million in July, according to the DGB trade union confederation.

Unemployment rose by 19 per cent in the first half of 1994, and by 8 per cent in the east.

Northern merger

A majority of members have approved the proposed merger of the North of England and Northern Rock building societies, creating the tenth biggest society in the UK. The merger will go through on 1 October after approval by the Building Societies Commission.

The marrying kind, page 32

US orders up

US factory orders enjoyed their fourth successive monthly increase. The 0.8 per cent rise in June, in line with expectations, was the same as the revised May figure. Orders for durable goods increased 1.3 per cent in June, and orders for non-durables 0.3 per cent. The index of leading indicators - which gives a snapshot of economic performance in six months' time - edged up 0.2 per cent in June, confirming the continuing slowing of growth.

Unit trusts dealt blow

Standard Life, the UK's biggest unit trust investor, is to withdraw pounds 4.16bn from unit trusts because of a tax crackdown by the Government. The money will now be held directly in shares. The move is a blow to the unit trust industry as it represents 4 per cent of the money held in unit trusts in Britain.

VW to be aided

The European Commission has approved DM645m (pounds 272m) of state aid for Volkswagen, the German car maker. The aid is for VW plants in the eastern German state of Saxony.

Rolling ahead

Rolls-Royce has received orders worth more than pounds 42m for 10 Coberra gas turbines.

Public tunnellers

Eurotunnel has received consent for the final preparations for regular public services through the Channel Tunnel by Le Shuttle passenger vehicles between Folkestone and Calais and by Eurostar trains.

Saudi Gatt bid

Saudi Arabia is to start talks on joining the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to help boost its exports, which were worth 20 billion riyals (pounds 3.47bn) in 1993. Saudi Arabia applied to join Gatt last year.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips closed slightly lower, with investors focused on individual takeover and earnings issues. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 3.56 points at 3,792.66.

Tokyo: Directionless, narrow-range trade left the Nikkei average 27.4 easier at 20,632.73.

Hong Kong: Profit-taking took the Hang Seng index 109.14 points lower to 9,585.89.

Sydney: A slump in the gold price and a poor performance by the banking sector combined to send the All Ordinaries index down 14.6 points to 2,072.3.

Bombay: Political uncertainty weighed on the market as the index slipped 28.29 to 4,281.64.

Johannesburg: Bargain-hunting offset the effect of gold's weakness. The overall index managed a 12-point gain to 5,696.

Frankfurt: In moderate trade the DAX index closed near the day's high at 2,198.92, up 12.53 points.

Paris: Consolidating Tuesday's gains, the CAC-40 index retreated 2.16 points to 2,115.07.

Zurich: Shares came under late pressure after Wall Street's early losses. The Swiss Performance Index eased 0.68 to 1,733.68.

London: Report, page 32.