Business & City in Brief

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Airport delays are reduced again

Flight delays at UK airports were reduced last year for the third consecutive year, according to figures from the Civil Aviation Authority. The average delay was 15 minutes compared with 18 minutes in 1991.

The CAA said that although there was still a shortage of air traffic control officers, passengers were beginning to benefit from a pounds 750m investment in new equipment.

25-year fixed rate

Lloyds Bank has launched its first 25-year fixed rate mortgage at 9.75 per cent, compared with a rate of 8.99 per cent for 10-year mortgages and 7.99 per cent for five-year fixed rates. The average rate over the past 25 years has been 11.1 per cent.

Clearing the decks

The Association for Payment Clearing Services, the bank and building society body that clears all UK money transmission and payments, has appointed as its new chairman Bert Morris, deputy chief executive of National Westminster Bank.

Liffe ambitions

The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, will increase spending substantially this year on marketing and promoting its hitherto unsuccessful equity options products. Liffe yesterday launched eight new individual equity options contracts to revitalise the complex.

Coutts in New York

Coutts, the bank for wealthy individuals owned by NatWest, has been granted a licence for a New York branch and opened for business yesterday.

Buoyant Biscuits

Trading at United Biscuits was buoyant, with sales since the beginning of the year up on the same period a year earlier, said Sir Robert Clark, chairman, at the annual meeting. UK performance was solid and good progress was being made in Continental Europe.

C&W looks east

Cable and Wireless, the telecommunications group, said it was teaming up with two other firms to conduct a feasibility study into expanding the telephone service in the Philippines. The study will be conducted with the international arm of Telecom Australia and Benpres of the Philippines.

Britain cleared

The EC competition commissioner, Karel Van Miert, has told the Dublin government he has found no evidence to support allegations that Britain used public contracts as a lever to win investment from Digital Equipment Corporation, bringing about the closure of the firm's Irish plant at Galway with the loss of 700 jobs.

Bank jobs warning

The number of bank jobs in Britain will not rebound to boom-time levels when the economy recovers because of banks' increasing reliance on technology, Lord Alexander, chairman of National Westminster Bank, said yesterday.

World Markets

New York: A bond sell-off ruffled sentiment early in the session, but the Dow Jones average inched to a new record, closing 13.56 points higher at 3,482.31.

Tokyo: As investor interest moved to second-tier issues and index- linked selling continued, the Nikkei average fell 325.17 to 20,615.2.

Hong Kong: Continuing its surge on the announcement of a land sale programme, the Hang Seng index climbed 160.63 to a record 7,002.6.

Sydney: Better-than-expected results from News Corporation helped the All Ordinaries index to 1,695.7, an 8.3-point gain.

Bombay: Profit-taking eroded early gains, leaving the index three points easier at 2,286.92.

Paris: A bounce after four days of losses, helped by a buoyant bond market, took the CAC-40 index 18.15 points higher to 1,872.67.

Frankfurt: A session of moderate trade saw the DAX index close 13.31 points better at 1,629.46.

Zurich: Shares closed little changed overall after a bout of profit-taking on industrial blue chips following recent gains.

Milan: Telecoms shares led the market higher, with the MIB adding 0.43 per cent to 1,179.

London: Report, page 30.