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The Independent Online
Airbus and Boeing in talks

Airbus Industrie and Boeing are discussing the feasibility of jointly constructing a new 600- 800 seater jumbo jet, Jean Pierson, Airbus chairman, said yesterday. Mr Pierson, denying reports that British Aerospace and Deutsche Aerospace had split from their partners in Airbus to conduct separate negotiations, said he and the German company had been mandated by Airbus's board to discuss the new-generation aircraft with the US manufacturer.

The four-nation European consortium made operating profits of about dollars 270m ( pounds 183m) last year despite cancellation of several large orders and the repayment of dollars 700m in government launch aid.

Strike is on

The Banking, Insurance and Finance Union (Bifu) has failed to reach agreement with TSB Group over job cuts and will go ahead with a one-day strike tomorrow. The union had held last-minute talks with TSB in the hope of avoiding the stoppage.

Commentary, page 27

North Sea jobs

Up to 670 offshore construction jobs are to be created after Elf Enterprise Caledonia awarded SPL Engineering a pounds 75m contract to build a North Sea accommodation platform for the Claymore field. Work will be split between the firm's yards at Lowestoft, Suffolk and on Teesside.

Two cleared An investigation by the joint disciplinary scheme of the accountancy profession into dealings in the Lloyd's insurance market by Alexander Howden Holdings, Minet Holdings and WMD Underwriting Agencies exonerated two people and made no findings against a further eight. It felt too much time had elapsed since the events occurred for there to be a fair inquiry.

Commentary, page 27

Fighter deal

Dassault Aviation has signed a contract with Taiwan for the sale of 60 Mirage 2000-5 aircraft. The French government has approved the deal.

Salomon pays

Salomon Brothers has agreed to pay dollars 4m to settle claims by 39 states and the District of Columbia arising from its Treasury bond auction scandal.

British allure

British companies were the most attractive to businesses seeking cross-border deals within the European Community last year, according to a survey by KPMG, the international accountancy and management consultancy firm. The approach of the single European market brought a resurgence of activity, with the value of cross-border sales of EC companies rising to dollars 41.6bn from dollars 23.1bn the previous year.

World Markets

New York: Investors bided time ahead of President-elect Clinton's detailed economic plans. The Dow Jones Average lost 2.71 points to close at 3,305.16.

Tokyo: Adopting a wait-and- see attitude, the market pushed the Nikkei average down 59.7 points to 16,782.88.

Hong Kong: Moderate trade lifted the Hang Seng index 38.64 points to 5,586.67.

Sydney: Uncertainty over the Australian dollar drove the All Ordinaries index 22.7 points lower to close at 1,542.1.

Bombay: Fears of political instability helped to lower the index 54.02 points to 2,447.5.

Johannesburg: A strong rise in De Beers shares led the index 31 points higher to 3,280.

Frankfurt: A roller-coaster session ahead of today's Bundesbank council meeting ended with the DAX index just 0.04 of a point easier at 1,556.38.

Paris: The easing of short-term French interest rates boosted the CAC-40 index to 1,859.63, a gain of 8.85 points.

London: Report, page 29.