Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
CONSTRUCTION SLUMP TO CONTINUE

Construction output is likely to continue falling for the rest of the year, according to the quarterly survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which shows that workloads over the past 12 months have fallen by 10 per cent.

The result contrasts with last quarter's findings, which showed the first increase in output since the recession started. In the quarter to June, however, outputs dropped by 0.7 per cent.

SAVINGS RATES UP

National Savings has stepped up pressure in the savings market by introducing a higher interest rate on holdings of pounds 25,000 and over in Income Bonds and the Investment Account. The rate on bonds will be raised from 7 per cent gross to 7.25 per cent. The Investment Account rate will go up from 6.25 per cent to 6.5 per cent.

SKIPTON AHEAD

Skipton Building Society, ranked bottom in this year's UBS league table of building society performance, increased its pre-tax profits from pounds 645,000 to pounds 4.2m in the first half of this year.

MORE BELGIANS BUST

Belgian company bankruptcies surged 18 per cent to 443 in July 1993 from 374 in July 1992, according to Dun & Bradstreet International.

PORTUGUESE TRADE

Portugal's trade deficit with its EC partners fell 15.9 per cent to 38.2bn escudos ( pounds 145m)in January from 45.4bn escudos in January 1992. Imports and exports were both down.

JOINT VENTURE EXPANDS

Nestle and Coca-Cola are to expand their joint production and sales venture, Coca-Cola Nestle Refreshments, to cover Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium. The move is apparently conditional on European Commission approval.

DR PEPPER SHARE SALE

Prudential Insurance of America plans to sell up to 11 million common shares of Dr Pepper/Seven- Up, the beverage company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The shares represent 18.24 per cent of Dr Pepper/Seven- Up's outstanding common stock.

JAPAN TALKS FAIL

Japanese and US officials have failed to agree on the foreign share of Japan's semiconductor market after two days of talks. The US wanted Japan to maintain foreign market share at more than 20 per cent.

POLLY PECK PURSUED

The Turkish Cypriot government has opened court proceedings to sequestrate three more Polly Peck firms after the sale of a pharmaceutical plant on Friday for the group's unpaid tax and social security debts, according to a report by a Turkish Cypriot newspaper.

AT&T TOPS PROFIT LIST

An earnings increase of more than 600 per cent made American Telephone and Telegraph the most profitable of the world's 500 largest serviCe companies, supplanting BT, 1991's biggest money maker, Fortune magazine said. AT&T's 1992 earnings were dollars 3.8bn.

GERMAN WARNING

Germany's IG Chemie union said yesterday it feared massive job losses in the car components industry. Its chairman, Hermann Rappe, said companies were facing enormous pressure and in some cases would have to stop producing in Germany.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Burdened by investor caution ahead of a deficit reduction vote in Congress and the release of key July employment data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.28 of a point to 3,561.27.

TOKYO: The renewed upswing of the yen pushed export-related issues lower. The Nikkei average edged up 14.11 points to 20,357.64.

HONG KONG: Foreign buyers helped to drive the Hang Seng index 182.8 points higher to 7,211.83.

SYDNEY: A late surge in futures prices pulled the market higher. The All Ordinaries index, at 1,855.4, was just 0.6 firmer.

JOHANNESBURG: With gold shares falling prey to profit-taking, the index lost 39 points to 4,124.

FRANKFURT: The Bundesbank cut in the 14-day repo rate helped the DAX index to 1,843.43, up 28.35.

PARIS: Profit-taking after three days of strong advances left the CAC-40 18.45 lower at 2,110.58.

ZURICH: Underpinned by the strong Swiss franc, the SPI added 18.24 points to 1,537.21.

MILAN: The MIB rose three points to 1,270 on interest rate hopes.

LONDON: Report, page 24.

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