Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
RUSSIA TOP OF BAD DEBT LIST

British companies are being encouraged to sell to Russia, even though the country is failing to pay any of its export finance debts. According to the Export Credits Guarantee Department annual report, Russia has shot to the top of the list of bad risk markets. Last year British exporters claimed pounds 114.8m for non-payment by buyers in the former Soviet Union, pushing Iraq into second place.

TRANSPARENT SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission's market regulation division unveiled proposals that it hopes will make the US securities markets more transparent and efficient. It urged the New York Stock Exchange to end restrictions on after-hours trading in in order to win back orders from overseas.

WEATHER HITS JOBS

A plunge in first-time US jobless benefits may be attributed to terrible winter weather and a holiday week. Initial claims in the week to 22 January fell to 309,000 from 365,000 a week earlier. US durable goods orders jumped 2.2 per cent in December.

MORE POWER CALL

The Confederation of British Industry called for the European Commission to be given tougher powers to clamp down on state subsidies. Companies should also be allowed to sue governments where it could be proved that illegal aid payments had caused economic loss.

Green's pay leaps Michael Green, chairman of Carlton Communications, saw his total pay rise 19 per cent last year to pounds 631,705. The bulk of the increase came from an earnings- per-share-linked bonus that jumped 72 per cent to pounds 207,000.

SALES RISE

The engineering industry increased sales 1.1 per cent between the quarter to July and the quarter to November, according to the Central Statistical Office.

SECOND-HAND DEAL

Ford launched an initiative offering buyers of cars less than a year old a 12-month warranty and the right to exchange their car within 30 days.

PARIS IN SPRING

British Midland is increasing flights between London and Paris with a new four times daily service from 27 March between Heathrow and Orly airport.

RANK FOR SIR DENYS

Sir Denys Henderson will become a non-executive director of Rank Organisation in March and chairman of the leisure group next year.

MEATY PLACING

Whitchurch, the UK's third largest supplier of meat to contract catering operations, is coming to market through a private placing of shares to raise pounds 1.3m.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Steady buying on lower interest rates and optimism about the economy drove the Dow Jones Industrial to a record 3,926.30, up 18.30.

TOKYO: Turning downwards on political worries, the Nikkei average lost 246.42 to 18,891.79.

HONG KONG: Selective bargain- hunting sent the Hang Seng index soaring 230.85 to 11,470.42.

SYDNEY: The previous two days' losses were made good as the All Ordinaries index spurted 28.8 points to 2,250.7 in heavy trade.

BOMBAY: Despite some profit- taking the index recorded a 75.33-point advance to 4,057.82.

JOHANNESBURG: Bullion strength buoyed the market, with the overall index 36 better at 4,792.

PARIS: The decision to leave interest rates unchanged reversed an upward trend. The CAC-40 eased 1.4 points to 2,280.95.

FRANKFURT: A day of fluctuating fortunes ended with the DAX index up 5.97 points at 2,125.14.

ZURICH: Moderate trade took the Swiss Performance Index 5.76 points higher to 1,966.38.

LONDON: Report, page 30.

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