Business & City Summary

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The Independent Online
Fear of more repossessions

The number of repossessions of homes whose owners fell behind on mortgage payments could soon start rising again, according to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report published today.

Many borrowers who avoided losing their home by rescheduling their payments have only postponed the inevitable, says Janet Ford, of Loughborough University, author of the report.

New Zeneca chief

Sir Sydney Lipworth, a former chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, is to succeed Sir Denys Henderson as chairman of Zeneca after the annual meeting on 12 May next year.

Drugs link-up

Medeva and SmithKline Beecham have formed an alliance to develop, manufacture and market vaccines, including the child vaccine Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis (whooping cough) and the new combined vaccine DTP and HIB, which protects against meningitis.

US statistics

Business inventories in the US rose by a lower-than-expected 0.3 per cent in July after a 0.4 per cent increase the previous month. Business sales fell 0.8 per cent following a 0.9 per cent rise in June. Along with a survey published by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, showing prices falling in September, the figures boosted the US Treasury bond market.

Shell payout

Shell Transport & Trading declared an interim dividend of 11.2p, up 9.8 per cent.

Gas projects

British Gas and First Philippine Holdings are to pursue jointly a number of gas projects in the Philippines, including the construction of onshore pipelines and a distribution network to industry.

LRC pledge

The condom manufacturer LRC Products has given the Department of Trade and Industry undertakings that it will not strike agreements with wholesalers or retailers which prevent them stocking other brands. This follows criticism by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Nestle surges

Nestle, the world's largest food and beverages group, reported a 5.8 per cent jump in half-year profits to Sfr2.83bn ( pounds 1.4bn), while the trading margin rose to 10.3 from 9.8 per cent. Net financing costs and non-trading expenses (including restructuring) fell to Sfr530m from Sfr615m.

Minorco up 43%

Minorco, the natural resource group, showed operating earnings up 43 per cent to dollars 200.5m for the year ended June, on sales of dollars 3.14bn against dollars 2.78bn previously.

World Markets

New York: Encouraging inflation figures drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average 58.55 points higher to 3,953.88 by the close in busy trading.

Tokyo: Closed (holiday).

Hong Kong: Share prices inched higher towards the close of a lacklustre session, taking the Hang Seng index 16.24 points ahead to 9,862.64.

Sydney: Weakness in the transport sector took the edge off gains. The All Ordinaries index ended 0.3 firmer at 2,050.8.

Johannesburg: Last-minute buying of gold stocks ahead of a futures close-out reduced losses. The overall index finished 32 points in arrears at 5,840.

Paris: An afternoon rebound by government bond futures inspired the CAC-40 to record a 24.38-point gain at 1,977.3.

Frankfurt: Dull trade ended with the DAX near the day's low, 10.14 down at 2,113.98.

Zurich: Nestle recovered most of the losses triggered by its first half results. The SPI eased 5.55 points to 1,735.2.

London: Report, page 30.