Business and City in Brief

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Japanese brokers expect big losses

Three of Japan's four giant stockbroking houses yesterday admitted that they would make a loss in the financial year ending this month.

Only Nikko forecast that it could break even, while all the others expect losses. Daiwa is looking to lose Y7bn, Nomura Y5bn and Yamaichi Y36bn. All said they would trim overheads to make up for the lower trading volumes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

US deficit surges

Weaker overseas sales lifted the US trade deficit in January to dollars 7.3bn from a revised dollars 6.89bn in December. Exports slumped 6.7 per cent to dollars 37.01bn, while imports fell by 4.8 per cent to dollars 44.31bn. Aircraft and cars accounted for more than half the fall in sales. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for regular state unemployment benefits fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000 for the week ended 13 March, from 361,000.

Pounds 125m Rolls order

Rolls-Royce won a pounds 125m order from USAir for engines for a further 15 Boeing 757-200 twin-engined airliners, and options on 15 more Rolls-Royce-powered Boeing 757s. The company also said it sold Thompson Valves, a manufacturer of needle valves, pressure regulators and controllers, to Charles Baynes for pounds 7.9m.

Accounting warning

Companies buying in their own debt must show any profit or loss in their profit-and-loss account in the year when the debt is repurchased, the Urgent Issues Task Force committee of the Accounting Standards Board said. Several privatised utilities had been planning to spread debt repurchase losses over a number of years.

Nissan to cut costs

Nissan Motor, Japan's second-largest car maker, plans to cut production costs by reducing the variety of engines offered by at least 40 per cent in five years. It will also standardise components such as air conditioners and transmissions to reduce the parts needed.

Costain sells

Costain has withdrawn its US court appeal and decided to sell its Australian coal operations to the Hanson subsidiary, Peabody Resources. Last month Costain said it would appeal after Peabody won an injunction barring the sale of the business to Altus, part of Credit Lyonnais. Peabody conditionally agreed to buy the operation for dollars 200 million in October 1992, before Altus intervened.

Receivers at Elliott

Dennis Cross and Howard Evans, receivers from KPMG Peat Marwick, have been appointed to troubled builders Elliott Northern. The company employs 170 and had a turnover of pounds 12m in 1992.

Names action group

More than 6,000 names in four Secretan syndicates at Lloyd's have formed an action group to represent their interests, as losses mount to a total that could reach pounds 100m.

Virgin buying spree

Virgin Atlantic Airways plans to order five Boeing 747-400 and five Airbus wide-bodied jets, according to Richard Branson, chairman.

Ofwat post filled

(First Edition)

Jessica Thomas, a writer and broadcaster, has been named chairwoman of Ofwat's customer service committee for the South-west. She will take over from Arthur Green, chairman, on 1 April. The committee, which is independent of the water industry, represents the interests of the customers of South West Water Services.

World Markets

New York: The German interest rate cut encouraged shares. In busy trading the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen 38.90 points to 3,465.64 by the close.

Tokyo: A sharp improvement in sentiment brought the Nikkei average a gain of 554.53 - more than 3 per cent - to 18,727.9.

Hong Kong: Bargain-hunters ignored political worries to leave the Hang Seng 92.93 higher at 6,051.26.

Sydney: Tracking Wall Street's overnight decline, the All Ordinaries eased six points to 1,669.6.

Bombay: In a wait-and-see session the index closed at the day's low of 2,393.58, down 15.65 points.

Johannesburg: With gold and industrial shares both advancing, the index added 26 points to 3,477.

Paris: After early highs prices went into reverse, and the CAC-40 index closed 3.76 points easier at 1,963.52.

Frankfurt: With the market closing before the Bundesbank announcement, the DAX index ended 11.11 points better at 1,696.19.

Milan: The German discount rate cut lifted prices in late trade. The MIB added 0.83 per cent to 1,098.

London: Report, page 26.