Business and City in Brief

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Producer prices mark time in US

The producer price index in the US was unchanged in June, the first month without an increase since March 1991.

Consumer prices advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.1 per cent for the first half of 1993 compared with 2.9 per cent increase for all of 1992. Retail sales in June also improved - up 0.4 per cent to dollars 171.9bn.

Polly Peck delay

Creditors and administrators of Asil Nadir's Polly Peck want to put the collapsed business empire into liquidation in the autumn but cannot do so until dollars 200m of group funds are unfrozen by Dutch courts. When the group is wound up creditors owed pounds 1.3bn will receive between 0p and 4p in the pound, according to solicitors for Coopers & Lybrand, joint administrators - revised down from a 1990 estimate of 20p-plus.

Repossessions down

The number of mortgage repossession court orders in England and Wales fell 11.14 per cent last year to 126,983 - 8,401 for council houses and 118,582 others. The total number of mortgage repossession actions entered in the courts fell 24 per cent to 142,191 after peaking at 186,649 in 1991.

Dell's big write-down

Dell Computer, based in Texas, will take a dollars 75m-dollars 85m charge during its second quarter for stock write-downs, restructuring and costs for delays and cancellations on its notebook computer projects. The resulting second-quarter loss would put Dell in breach of loan covenants, but the company said it was negotiating with banks to avoid a default.

Lloyds strike ballot

A quarter of Lloyds Bank's 48,000 staff are being asked by Bifu, the finance union, to vote on a series of one-day strikes over pay. Bifu objects to the bank's move to performance-related pay rises in April. The result is expected next month.

Gatt talks relaunched

Peter Sutherland, director-general of Gatt, relaunched negotiations on a trade liberalisation deal after six months of deadlock, calling for agreement on a global package by mid-December.

Gold coin sales soar

Worldwide sales of leading gold coins rose to 393,794 ounces in the second quarter of 1993, up 46 per cent on the same period in 1992, the World Gold Council said. Demand in the West accounted for 88 per cent, with sales in Europe and North America up 50 per cent.

Fimbra awards pounds 600,000

Arbitrators awarded pounds 606,911 to 33 clients of independent advisers supervised by Fimbra, the regulator, during the second quarter of this year. The average award was nearly pounds 18,400, with awards to 11 investors who lost on home income plans accounting for pounds 326,659.

I&S goes Nashville

Ivory & Sime, the fund manager, has won a contract to manage its first public sector pension fund in the US with a dollars 10m tranche of the City of Nashville's pension fund.

World Markets

New York: Bolstered by news that consumer prices were unchanged in June, shares moved ahead impressively. The Dow Jones closed up 27.11 at 3,542.55.

Tokyo: Arbitrage buying in the final minutes of trading reduced losses. The Nikkei average ended 41.31 points lighter at 20,139.11.

Hong Kong: After gaining more than 60 points in the morning on bargain-hunting, selling pressure from European fund managers pulled the Hang Seng index down to 6,955.5, just 0.6 of a point easier.

Sydney: Continuing its consolidation after recent gains, the All Ordinaries edged up 0.3 to 1,804.5.

Johannesburg: Shares ended near the day's highs, with gold and industrials both stronger. The overall index added 45 to 4,135.

Frankfurt: Failing to hold most of its early gains, the DAX index closed 4.39 higher at 1,811.55.

Zurich: Prices closed broadly lower but with sentiment still positive. The SPI lost 5.36 to 1,520.55.

Milan: Telecoms stocks led the market higher, with the MIB putting on 1.33 per cent to 1,220.

London: Report, page 30.

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