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The Independent Online
Ford increases UK production

Ford is increasing production at two of its main British car and van plants to meet booming demand in the home market. The Halewood plant on Merseyside, which makes Escorts, is moving from single shift working to two shifts a day four days a week while the Transit van plant in Southampton is returning to full five-day production.

These are the first increases in output since Ford began putting its plants on short-time working in the middle of last year. They follow an 18 per cent increase in Ford's UK sales in the first two months of the year.

Rolls order

Rolls-Royce has picked up another order for its all-important Trent engine. The Brazilian carrier Transbrasil is to power three Boeing 777 wide-bodied jets with the Trent 800.

Partner bought out

Smith & Nephew is buying out its wound management, casting and bandagings partner in Germany from Braun Melsungen, its joint venture partner. S&N is paying up to pounds 1.9m in two instalments - the first, for 25 per cent of the shares, immediately and the second next October.

Ulster jobs boost

Three hundred jobs are to be created in Limavady, Northern Ireland, where the Hong Kong group Benelux is setting up a pounds 3.5m plant to make compact disc cases.

New trust planned

Morgan Grenfell Asset Management is raising money for a new investment trust, the Latin American Companies Trust. The public offer will run for two weeks from next Wednesday. Morgan Grenfell manages dollars 450m in Latin America.

Pounds 37m raised

Saracen Value Trust, the smaller companies investment trust to be managed by Jim Fisher, formerly of Scottish Amicable, has raised nearly pounds 37m.

TI link-up

TI Group has entered into an agreement with the Sembawang Group, a leading Singapore industrial conglomerate, to develop business opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Textile deal

Courtaulds Textiles' pounds 45m purchase of a French tights maker from the financially troubled Hartstone Group was completed yesterday after a delay caused by snow damage to one factory.

Chinese network

China has moved towards a single foreign exchange market by combining its largest swap centres in an electronic trading network. The new market, centred in Shanghai, links the floor in China's most active foreign exchange centre with four other swap markets.

World Markets

New York: Shares were in ragged retreat, with investors fearing higher interest rates. By the close the Dow Jones average was down 22.79 at 3,809.23.

Tokyo: Active trade took prices higher for the fourth day running, with the Nikkei average 219.42 points ahead at 20,216.62.

Hong Kong: HSBC led the market down after announcing its results. The Hang Seng index retreated 261.87 points to 10,148.36.

Sydney: Early gains were lost in the absence of foreign interest. The All Ordinaries index edged up 1.6 points to 2,181.7.

Bombay: Selling by speculators pared the index 138.4 to 4,147.72.

Johannesburg: Raised hopes of a constitutional settlement boosted sentiment. The overall index added 34 points to 4,880.

Paris: The limited reduction in the German repo rate sent the CAC-40 down 54.94 to 2,183.12.

Frankfurt: The DAX ended near its low at 2,067.05, off 24.52.

Zurich: Declines by Roche and UBS pulled the market down. The SPI lost 19.18 to 1,831.07.

London: Report, page 32.