Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Bank lending shows decline

The pace of bank lending eased in the first quarter, rising by pounds 4.102bn, 12 per cent less than the rise during the previous quarter, according to the British Bankers' Association. Lending to companies outside the financial sector continued the decline.

Loans to individuals increased by pounds 1.856bn, a rise of 1.4 per cent, while mortgage loans edged 2 per cent higher to pounds 2.004bn - the smallest quarterly increase in more than a year.

French fall

French industrial production fell by 1.2 per cent in the final quarter of last year but Insee, the French statistics office, said yesterday that more recent survey data points to growing demand for manufactured goods.

UAP sale success

The French government claimed success yesterday in the privatisation of Union des Assurances de Paris, France's biggest insurance company. The Economics Ministry said that a 15 per cent draw-down from the institutional tranche, after the public sale was two-and-a-half times oversubscribed, would increase the public shares to 54.4 million, worth Fr8.27bn ( pounds 996m).

GRT floats

GRT, a Scottish bus group coming to the market next month, expects to make operating profits of about pounds 5m in the year to 26 March, according to its pathfinder prospectus published yesterday. The float, via a placing on 27 April, should raise pounds 15m to pounds 20m and give GRT a market size of pounds 40m- pounds 50m.

Lost at sea

The insurance cost of merchant ships lost at sea increased substantially in the first three months of the year, according to figures from the Institute of London Underwriters. The tonnage lost was nearly 60 per cent higher at 348,874gt.

Car sales up

New car registrations in April totalled 142,009, 4.82 per cent ahead of April 1993, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Registrations for the first four months of the year totalled 671,445, 14.05 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Senna claim

Lloyd's of London faces a dollars 6m claim following the death this week of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna. Broker Tim Clowes said Lloyd's underwriters insured around one- third of a dollars 20m policy.


News International has asked us to put on record that it has no intention of selling any of its national newspaper titles. It also points out that its interest in BSkyB is 50 per cent, not the 51 per cent recently reported.

World Markets

New York: Higher interest rate fears sent shares sharply lower before the Dow Jones average regained ground to close 26.47 points down at 3,669.50.

Tokyo: Thin trading after the three-day holiday lifted the Nikkei average 292.26 to 19,862.47.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunters propelled the market 2.5 per cent higher, with the Hang Seng index 207.39 ahead at 8,620.27.

Sydney: The depressed futures market tempered enthusiasm as the All Ordinaries index clawed back 16.2 points to 2,004.3.

Bombay: Buying by mutual funds carried the index 102.9 points higher to 3,725.74.

Johannesburg: Industrial shares soared on the election outcome, with gold steady. The overall index rose 77 points to 5,308.

Paris: Recovering most of its early losses on US employment figures, the CAC-40 index finished only 4.4 in arrears at 2,158.22.

Frankfurt: Weak futures took shares off their highs, leaving the DAX just 1.18 firmer at 2,237.02.

Zurich: The Swiss Performance Index plumbed a year's low, falling 18.98 points to 1,738.15 with Roche again a leading loser.

London: Report, page 22.