Business failures in the UK fell 15 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same period of 1992, according to figures from Trade Indemnity, the credit insurer. A total of 1,767 businesses went under against 2,074 a year earlier.
South-west England recorded a 38 per cent fall and Wales and south-east England 22 per cent. Failures rose 16 per cent in Scotland and 3 per cent in north and north-west England.
110 oil blocks awarded
More than half of the 110 blocks awarded in the 14th round of oil licensing are outside the traditional North Sea area, and only seven applicants withdrew after petroleum revenue taxation was abolished in the March Budget. New exploration regions will include the Irish Sea, north and west of Pembrokeshire; the channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland; Solway Firth; and the Dorset coast.
Lonrho loses appeal
Lonrho has lost a court appeal in which it sought to cross-examine the Fayed brothers over affidavits relating to their acquisition of House of Fraser Holdings in 1985.
Pounds 123m Rolls deal
Denel, a South African diversified military products manufacturer, has signed a 600m rand (pounds 123.4m) deal with Rolls-Royce to make a gearbox for the engine at the new Trent aero-engine plant.
US inventories up
April business inventories in the US rose 0.1 per cent after a revised 0.6 per cent gain in March, while business sales fell 0.2 per cent.
Lloyd's postal vote
Lloyd's of London will hold a postal vote of its 31,000 members on whether the market should be more accountable to its investors and whether it should continue to trade. It said it was the only fair way to assess the views of members, due to meet over the vote on 5 July.
Zeneca given the nod
Zeneca has won approval to market Zestril, its drug for use in congestive heart failure, in the US.
Reed bid cleared
The US anti-trust authorities have raised no objection to the purchase by Reed Elsevier of the assets of the Official Airline Guides from Macmillan. The action clears the way for the publishing group to proceed with due diligence and contract negotiations.
BCCI group named
Abu Dhabi's investment authority has been elected to a liquidation committee working to repay creditors of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International, liquidators from Touche Ross said.
British Airways said it received 92 per cent take-up from shareholders for its one-for-four rights issue priced at 245p a share. Acceptances were received for 170.6 million of the 185.5 million shares offered.
ICI sale hint
A hint that ICI might be considering selling its 38 per cent stake in AECI, its South African associate, came as AECI revealed a joint venture with Sasol, the state oil group, and said it was talking to ICI about aligning the shareholding 'more closely to ICI's international business strategy'.
New York: Today's expected consumer prices figures held activity back. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 9.68 points at 3,514.69.
Tokyo: The sharp rise of the yen against the dollar kept most investors sidelined as the Nikkei average slipped 103.6 points to 20,397.35.
Bombay: Prices slid across a broad front in listless trading. The index lost 46.36 points to 2,357.64.
Frankfurt: Underpinned by hopes of an imminent cut in interest rates, the DAX added 11 points to 1,691.98, just off the day's high.
Paris: Shares closed lower despite the expected cut in interest rates. The CAC-40 eased 3.59 to 1,916.84.
Zurich: Profit-taking in shares of the big drug companies pulled the SPI down 5.38 points to 1,444.15.
Milan: Plunging Ferruzzi group stocks drove the rest of the market down despite the Bank of Italy's lowering of its discount rate. The MIB fell 0.94 per cent to 1,164.
Istanbul: The index surged almost 10.5 per cent to establish the month's fourth record close, advancing 925.16 points to 9,760.67.
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