Business and City Summary

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Banks face downgrade

The Moody's credit rating agency has put the long-term debt ratings of Barclays and National Westminster on credit watch, for possible downgrading. They have already lost their triple A status.

The recession has hit Barclays' asset quality and core earnings, which had recently deteriorated, Moody's said. NatWest's bad debt provisions were at recent historical highs and the agency would look at the sustainability of earnings and the competitive outlook.

Clark meeting

Directors of C&J Clark, the shoe company, will meet again this morning to seek a compromise with dissident shareholders trying to oust Walter Dickson, chairman. An extraordinary shareholders' meeting planned for tomorrow will probably be adjourned if a compromise is reached.

Digital cuts jobs

Digital Equipment Corp, the computer firm, plans to cut staff 'more aggressively' this quarter than the 5,300 jobs it eliminated in the first quarter just ended. It reported a net loss of dollars 260m in the quarter.

News share price

News Corp said its planned issue of 40 million ordinary shares would be priced at Adollars 24.10 each. Together with an issue in the US, News is raising a total of USdollars 697m.

Crossing borders

UK businesses were the second most active in the world in cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the first nine months, according to KPMG.

Music sales up

Worldwide sales of recorded music rose 5.5 per cent to dollars 25.4bn in 1991, according to figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Sales of compact discs, particularly singles, were largely responsible.

Russian gap

A senior adviser to Russia warned that it was on the brink of hyperinflation and will need dollars 22bn in foreign assistance next year. The figure has been agreed in talks with the International Monetary Fund.

World Markets

New York: Blue chips slid in late selling, but recouped almost all their losses. The Dow Jones Average was off 5.94 points at 3,195.48 by the close.

Frankfurt: The DAX index fell 6.97 points to 1,458.53.

Milan: Technical factors at the end of the monthly trading cycle pushed the MIB index up 21 points or 2.70 per cent to 799.

Paris: The CAC-40 index fell 17.16 points to 1,667.93

Zurich: The Swiss Market Index eased 4.2 points to 1,889.3 and the Swiss Performance Index declined 2.54 to 1,144.36.

Johannesburg: The overall index bounced off a 2,984 low to close at 2,990 from Tuesday's 3,001. The gold index rose eight points to 814.

Hong Kong: Hopes of progress on Hong Kong's new airport saw the Hang Seng index close 50.67 points higher at 5,806.77.

Tokyo: The Nikkei index shed 146.46 at 17,344.03 on fading hopes of lower interest rates.

Sydney: The All Ordinaries index eased 3.1 to 1,453.8.

London: Report, page 31.