Business and City in Brief

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US PLUNGES DEEPER INTO THE RED

The US, the world's biggest debtor nation, fell deeper into the red last year. The value of direct investment in replacing tangible assets, such as plant and equipment, lifted debt to dollars 521.3bn ( pounds 348bn) - dollars 156.3bn worse than previously - while the measure of direct investment based on stock market prices deteriorated by dollars 215.1bn to dollars 611.5bn. Figures from the Commerce Department showed new factory orders falling 1.4 per cent to dollars 249.3bn from April to May.

ANOTHER VOTE FOR HERON

Heron, the embattled property to petrol pumps group, won a second vital vote from creditors at a meeting in the Hague for its pounds 1.4bn restructuring, following a similar endorsement in London on Monday. The rescue plan will go before the courts for ratification in mid- July, if the final creditors' vote in the Netherlands Antilles on Monday is also favourable.

CONFIDENCE IMPROVES

Manufacturers' confidence in the UK edged higher in June, from 53 to 53.7 per cent, the fifth month confidence ratings have pointed to recovery, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said.

FIAT'S BUMPER LOSSES

Fiat warned the slump in European car sales may produce an operating loss of L3,000bn ( pounds 1.3bn) in 1993, after profits of L551bn the year before. Debt of L10,000bn by year-end is expected to be cut by a third.

LUCAS WINS CONTRACT

Lucas Industries said it won a substantial contract to supply its electronic diesel fuel injection system to the Mercedes-Benz unit of Daimler- Benz for its new C220 diesel car. Analysts valued the deal at pounds 15m.

5m POUNDS FOR LEYLAND DAF

The European Commission gave the go-ahead to pounds 5m approved state aid for Leyland Daf Vans relating to a pounds 26.1m management buyout of assets from the receivers.

305,000 POUNDS FOR LEVERTON

Roger Leverton, chief executive at Pilkington, the glass maker, was paid pounds 305,000 on an annualised basis last year and has received 1.1 million share options, exercisable in July 1995 at 107p, worth pounds 230,000 at yesterday's closing price.

MORE TIME FOR MURDOCH

A US federal bankruptcy judge gave Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon, a 60-day extension of his agreement to run the New York Post that allows him to walk away from the deal if he is displeased with union negotiations.

CU CHIEF TO RETIRE

Tony Brend, 59, will retire as chief executive of Commercial Union at the end of the year. His successor is John Carter, 55, who has been running the European and life arms.

GO-AHEAD FOR AEGON

Scottish Equitable policyholders voted by more than 95 per cent to allow the company to be taken over by Aegon, the Dutch insurer.

SKB SALE CLEARED

(First Edition)

The Department of Trade and Industry cleared the proposed 211m pounds acquisition by Sara Lee of the personal care products business of SmithKline Beecham.

WORLD MARKETS

NEW YORK: Hanson's bid for Quantum Chemical created a little excitement. But by the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 2.77 points down at 3,524.66.

TOKYO: A late rebound in index- linked trading gave the Nikkei average a 46.58-point gain to 19,509.

HONG KONG: Caution ahead of today's London meeting on British strategy over the colony's political development left the Hang Seng index 8.19 points easier at 7,099.28.

SYDNEY: Shares ended the fiscal year higher, buoyed by soaring gold stocks. The All Ordinaries index advanced 19.6 to 1,738.1.

JOHANNESBURG: Gold shares continued strong and industrials also moved ahead. The overall index added 24 points to 4,078.

FRANKFURT: Thin trade as investors awaited today's Bundesbank council meeting lowered the DAX index 10.7 points to 1,697.63.

PARIS: With the market continuing to consolidate, the CAC-40 index eased 5.63 points to 1,971.87.

ZURICH: The Swiss Performance Index rose 0.75 to 1,493.6.

MILAN: Concern over the Ferruzzi group's woes was countered by interest rate hopes. The MIB edged up 0.17 per cent to 1,183.

LONDON: Report, page 32.

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