Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
Midland calls for aid on borrowing

New government aid for small business borrowing, especially in manufacturing, tax changes to encourage profits to be re-invested instead of diverted into pension schemes, and a concentration by banks on longer-term lending were called for yesterday by Brian Pearse, chief executive of Midland Bank.

Talks continue

Virgin and BA remained locked in prolonged talks last night in an effort to resolve their 'dirty tricks' dispute. An agreement, likely to include payment of up to pounds 15m by BA and arrangements to prevent unfair poaching of passengers, is expected this morning.

Unit trust record

Unit trusts reported the highest January gross and net sales figures since the 1987 crash, pushing funds to an all-time high of pounds 66.1bn - up more than pounds 2bn on the previous record.

Japan dented

Japan's vehicle exports in January fell 2.6 per cent from a year earlier to 531,349, the fourth month of year-on-year declines.

UK car boost

New UK motor vehicle registrations in January totalled 186,000, up 7 per cent on the same month last year. New car registrations were 163,000, a rise of 8 per cent.

GM to axe 11,000

General Motors will lay off up to 11,000 workers in the US next week because a dollars 1.7bn security fund that guarantees them full pay has run out.

Pounds 8.5m Dixons buy

Dixons Group paid pounds 8.5m in cash and loan notes for Vision Technology Group, which owns the four PC World home computer superstores around London and runs a mail order operation.

Amgen crashes

Amgen, one of the few leading US biotechnology stocks to have products on the market, lost 20 per cent of its value on Wall Street after warning of disappointing earnings. Three public share offerings by new drug companies were cancelled.

Oil output hit

Gales and weaker oil prices reduced the estimated daily value of North Sea crude by pounds 2m to pounds 21.3m in January compared with December and cut output 5 per cent to 1.89 million barrels a day, the second lowest January figure for 10 years.

Wine sales down

French exports of wines and spirits fell 1.5 per cent in 1992 to Fr34.2bn after 20 years of growth. Wine exports were down 2.9 per cent to Fr22.4bn, with champagne exports plunging 9.3 per cent to Fr5.88bn.

World Markets

New York: Late bargain-hunting erased earlier losses to leave the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 8.64 points at 3,365.14 by the close.

Tokyo: Index-linked deals helped the Nikkei average to 16,907.39, a gain of 108.45.

Hong Kong: Despite continued political uncertainty, the Hang Seng gained 26.19 to 6,203.88.

Sydney: Volatile trade left prices little changed, with the All Ordinaries off 1.5 at 1,606.4.

Bombay: Optimism over tomorrow's budget lifted the index 45.68 points to 2,799.35.

Johannesburg: In slow trade affected by Wall Street's overnight decline the overall index lost 14 points to 3,426.

Paris: As the market consolidated recent gains, the CAC-40 index eased 8.75 to 1,944.64.

Frankfurt: The DAX index added 14.67 points to 1,658.91.

Milan: With Fiat soaring 8 per cent on reports that it plans to sell 40 per cent of its car division to Renault, the MIB ended 0.81 per cent higher at 1,119.

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