Business and City in Brief

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Societies' credit outlook bright

IBCA, the international rating agency, is generally positive on the credit outlook for building societies, in stark contrast to its rival, Moody's, which several weeks ago warned that societies' ratings were entering 'uncharted waters'.

IBCA believes 'bad debt problems are receding, and most building societies are performing strongly'.

Card fraud falls

The cost of plastic card fraud to UK banks and building societies fell to pounds 71m in the first six months of 1993, compared with pounds 86m for the same period last year, the Association for Payment Clearing Services said, reflecting co-operation between financial institutions and retailers.

Lending down

Leading British banks lent pounds 1.621bn for mortgages in October, according to the British Bankers' Association. This was 3.9 per cent down on September.

Inflation slows

Inflation in western Germany slowed to an annual rate of 3.7 per cent in November, the fourth successive monthly fall. The new rate compares with a recent peak of 4.3 per cent in July.

Leyland jobs saved

Five hundred jobs have been secured with the pounds 12m sale of Leyland Daf's components plants in Glasgow and Leyland to a management buy-in team. Receivers to the collapsed trucks group have now sold all its main divisions, salvaging 2,700 jobs.

Extel loses bidder

VNU, the Dutch media group, has pulled out of the bidding for Extel Financial, the information service owned by United Newspapers. The Dutch press reported that VNU felt the selling price, said to be pounds 70m, was far too high. United said it was still talking to several potential buyers.

Perpetual sales

Shares in Perpetual, the unit trusts group, soared 49p to 780p on a surge in profits from pounds 4.8m to pounds 14.7m for the year to

30 September.

Lloyd's appointment

Sir Alan Hardcastle, former chief accountancy adviser to the Treasury, has been appointed deputy chairman of Lloyd's Council and chairman of Lloyd's Regulatory Board.

Fimbra suspension

Fimbra has suspended the investment business of Arena Financial Services of Woodstock, Gloucestershire.

NEC in red

NEC, the Japanese electronics group, slipped to a pre-taxloss of Y8.54bn (pounds 53m) in the sixmonths to 30 September, down from profits of Y8.26bn in the same period next year.

Markheath delay

Markheath, the struggling property company controlled by the Australian company Adelaide Steamship, has further delayed its accounts for another month. It has been unable to reach an agreement on refinancing.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips failed to show the expected benefit from better economic data. At the close the Dow Jones average was 3.63 down at 3,683.95.

Tokyo: Another steep decline took the Nikkei average down 496.55 points to 16,726.37.

Hong Kong: With blue chips mainly steady, the Hang Seng index eased 11.89 points to 9,274.42.

Sydney: Early gains were not sustained. The All Ordinaries index edged up 1.1 points to 2,043.1.

Bombay: Heavy buying by foreign funds carried the index up 159.46 - more than 5 per cent - to a 14-month high of 3,236.98.

Johannesburg: With gold and industrials both firmer, the overall index rose 10 points to 4,202.

Paris: Pausing after the previous day's sharp gains, the CAC-40 index firmed 2.22 to 2,120.62.

Frankfurt: Subdued trading left the DAX index just 0.47 of a point lighter at 2,047.24.

Zurich: Positive November inflation data helped the Swiss Performance Index to 1,737.59, an improvement of 8.95 points.

London: Report, page 20.

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