Business and City in Brief

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The Independent Online
JAPANESE SURPLUS TOPS dollars 100bn

Japan's trade surplus was dollars 107bn ( pounds 71bn) last year, a 37.6 per cent increase on 1991 and its first time over dollars 100bn.

With imports continuing to shrink in the domestic recession, economists say the surplus is likely to increase even more in 1993. Its size is becoming a serious embarrassment to Japan, particularly as the new US administration has pledged to push for fairer trade and more open markets with Japan.

MORE US HOMES

Construction starts on new US homes rose strongly in December and showed the first full- year increase - 5.5 per cent - for six years in 1992.

FEWER OPTIONS

Baring Brothers, the merchant bank, has withdrawn from its futures and options activities on Liffe, axing 19 jobs.

JAGUAR REVS UP

Jaguar, the luxury car maker, is to invest up to pounds 700m over five years to develop new models and upgrade production.

BRENT CHANGE

Brent Walker, the troubled leisure group, yesterday announced the appointment of Sir Keith Bright as chairman.

WALKER EVIDENCE

Lord Walker, the former cabinet minister who was briefly a director of Maxwell Communications Corporation, is to appear before the Commons social security committee. Lord Stevens of Ludgate, head of Invesco MIM, has also been called. The committee has been investigating the Maxwell pensions.

CHINA CALLS

(First Edition)

Air China is to fit multi-channel satellite communications systems made by Racal and Honeywell to its planes. The equipment enables passengers to make calls from planes.

FIMBRA SUSPENDS

(First Edition)

Fimbra has suspended the investment business of two firms - Carnforth Insurances Services of Carnforth, Lancs, and South Yorkshire Financial Planning of Doncaster, Yorks.

ALARM LOSS

(First Edition)

Gardiner Group, distributor of electronic security and surveillance systems, has lost pounds 1.7m on the sale of its Spanish subsidiary to local management.

SHIPYARD SOLD

(First Edition)

The Treuhand privatisation agency has it sold eastern Germany's biggest shipyard, Volkswerft Stralsund, to the city of Stralsund and three western German shipbuilders.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Continued buying of cyclical stocks helped the market post modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.79 points to 3,256.81.

TOKYO: The Nikkei average hit a 1993 low of 16,336.81 after falling 201.87 in choppy trade.

HONG KONG: Closed (holiday).

SYDNEY: Taking heart from moves by Kerry Packer to help troubled Westpac, the market closed higher with the All Ordinaries index 3.9 up at 1,523.

BOMBAY: Share prices moved only marginally in a wait-and- see session. The index eased 1.84 points to 2,542.39.

JOHANNESBURG: Profit-taking ate into early gains made by gold shares on the back of good results from local mines.

FRANKFURT: Futures-led buying lifted the DAX index 13.97 points to 1,587.64.

PARIS: Speculation on interest rates prompted an 8.24-point gain by the CAC-40 to 1,820.42.

MILAN: Cement maker Italcementi was one gainer as the MIB fell 1.21 per cent to 1,064.

LONDON: Report, page 19.

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