Business and City summary

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Insurers to act over terror premiums

Insurers and owners of industrial and commercial property will set up a working party on terrorism insurance after failing to win concessions from their meeting yesterday with Neil Hamilton, the junior trade minister.

The lobbyists are unhappy at premium increases of up to 300 per cent to be enforced from next month. The Corporation of the City of London, whose insurance bill will rise by several million pounds, wants a move to a compulsory levy to share the costs more broadly, but Mr Hamilton said this was undesirable and probably unworkable.

Debt relief offered

Britain will ask other leading industrial countries at next month's Tokyo economic summit to increase debt relief for the world's poorest countries to a maximum 80 per cent write-off of foreign debts.

Call to curb car imports

Geoffrey Whalen, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, called for Japanese car imports to be stemmed or reduced to prevent the UK industry being put under severe strain.

Surveyors earn less Industrial companies cut spending on property surveyors and agents by 25 per cent in 1992, while property companies spent 7 per cent less, according to the latest Chartered Surveyors Survey. That left income of surveyors and agents down pounds 60m at pounds 843m, with no sign of a dramatic improvement.

Opec meets privately Opec ministers had bilateral discussions after a full closed session chaired by Jean Ping of Gabon, the new president. The full session will resume this afternoon.

BP share offer British Petroleum plans to make a public bid for all the shares in BP France it does not already own. A spokesman said 14.01 per cent of the company's capital was in the hands of outside investors.

Bank sheds French jobs Barclays Bank is refocusing its French retail banking network, cutting 280 jobs in the process. It plans to open 50 new branches in France this year, bringing the total to 95, but will staff branches with only three or four employees each. The bank made a pounds 98m loss in France in 1992.

World Markets

New York: In quiet trading shares gave up earlier gains as inflation fears returned. By the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.11 at 3,511.65.

Tokyo: Closed.

Hong Kong: Hopes of agreement over funding for the new airport boosted the Hang Seng index 79.34 points to 7,739.08.

Sydney: A fall in future prices and the overnight decline in New York knocked the All Ordinaries index 14 lower at 1,709.1.

Johannesburg: Gold shares fell sharply amid disappointment about the softer bullion price, but dealers said selling was not aggressive and support was seen around the lows. The index ended down 98 at 1,584.

Milan: Sharp falls in Ferruzzi Finanziaria and Montedison failed to dent the MIB index, up 0.96 per cent at 1,161.

Frankfurt: Continued short-covering ahead of today's holiday lifted the DAX index 11.46 at 1,673.07.

Zurich: Chemical and financial blue chips led the SMI index to a record close of 2,312.4, up 17.9.

Paris: Continuing hopes of lower interest rates propelled the CAC-40 index 21.58 higher at 1,915.23.

London: Report, page 32.