Business and City Summary

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The Independent Online
Brittan calls for breathing space

Sir Leon Brittan, EC external trade commissioner, called on the United States to give itself more breathing space to maximise the chances of clinching a long-delayed Gatt world trade agreement. Sir Leon, who will meet Mickey Kantor, US trade representative, in Washington on Thursday, implied that President Bill Clinton's administration could not meet a 2 March deadline for submitting a Gatt Uruguay round package to Congress.

Pay boom

The number of employees covered by registered profit- related pay schemes rose by more than 24 per cent in the last quarter of 1992. There are now 973,600 employees covered by registered schemes, equivalent to 4.5 per cent of the workforce.

Hoover threat

Martine Aubry, France's Labour Minister, said the French factory inspectorate is taking legal action against Hoover for its decision to transfer manufacturing from Dijon to Scotland, with the loss of 700 French jobs.

Losses reviewed

Lloyd's of London has completed an internal review into the losses of insurance syndicate 255 under the management of the underwriting agency Rose Thomson Young. The syndicate has lost more than pounds 63m. An earlier report was published last autumn.

Wills bid

Wills Group, which runs several specialist trading companies, has made a pounds 2.7m bid for Platon International, the USM- quoted instrumentation group. Platon is resisting the bid. Wills is also raising pounds 5.4m in a rights issue.

Mexican plant

T&N, the international automotive components and engineering group, is to establish a pounds 7.3m camshaft manufacturing plant on a greenfield site at Saltillo, Mexico.

Kingfisher worry

Standard & Poor's has placed its ratings of Kingfisher's commercial paper and medium- term notes on credit watch with negative implications. The announcement follows concern over Kingfisher's talks about a possible link-up with the French electrical group, Darty.

MMC referral

The Director General of Fair Trading has referred the calibration and servicing of exhaust gas analysers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

VW job losses

Volkswagen plans to shed a total of 36,000 jobs worldwide by 1997. In 1992 the workforce was cut by 8,000 to 276,000.

World Markets

New York: Shares paused after last week's record performance. By the close the Dow Jones Average was down 4.6 points at 3,437.54.

Hong Kong: Prices closed slightly higher on bargain-hunting, with the Hang Seng Index up 39.94 points at 5,786.65.

Tokyo: In thin trading, the Nikkei 225 index closed down 51.17 points at 17,281.73.

Sydney: Active buying of blue chip stocks by offshore investors saw the All Ordinaries index rise 16.1 points to 1,559.4.

Brussels: The BEL 20 index fell 6.44 points to 1,220.47.

Frankfurt: The market consolidated after recent sharp gains. The DAX index closed 5.79 points higher at 1,647.16.

Madrid: The general index closed up 0.33 points at 239.15.

Milan: The MIB index rose 0.99 per cent to 1,125.

Paris: Following sharp gains last week, the CAC-40 index fell 3.45 points to 1,904.73.

Zurich: The Swiss Market Index put on 3.6 points to 2,137.2.

London: Report, page 23.