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Welsh mail strike ballot tomorrow

A mail strike in Wales that is threatening to tip many medium- sized and small companies into liquidation may be resolved following a decision by the Union of Communication Workers to ballot members on a settlement with the Royal Mail.

There will be a general meeting of the Cardiff branch of the UCW today and the full membership will vote on the settlement tomorrow.

Gilts sale cancelled

The Bank of England will not hold an auction of gilts this month, and says the next is likely in late September. It has raised about pounds 30bn of the pounds 50bn it is expected to need to cover the Government's borrowing during this financial year and is thought to be delaying further auctions in the expectation that gilt yields will fall further.

BES tax appeal

The Inland Revenue has lodged notice of appeal against a High Court ruling on 30 July that shares in The Gracechurch BES Companies, sponsored by Barclays, were issued on 10 March - before Budget Day, when loanback schemes offering higher-rate taxpayers generous tax relief were abruptly ended. The appeal is expected to be heard next month. The Inland Revenue's decision could affect about 3,200 investors in the scheme.

Airlines agree 'code'

American Airlines and British Midland Airways will list connecting flights through London under one number in a 'code-sharing' agreement. Under the arrangement, the airlines stand to pick up passengers who might otherwise have flown on British Airways.

National Savings

Sales of National Savings products in July amounted to pounds 638m. After repayments of pounds 727m, and including accrued interest of pounds 192m, the contribution to government funding was pounds 103m. Fixed-interest certificates raised pounds 53m and Capital Bonds pounds 38m.

Bullion bank sold

Republic National Bank of New York signed a contract to acquire Mase Westpac, a London-based gold bullion bank, from Westpac Banking Corporation. Republic has said Mase Westpac will continue as one of the five members of the London Gold Fixing.

In Reuters' pocket

Reuters Holdings, the international news and information group, has acquired for an undisclosed sum a 90 per cent interest in Futures Pager, which provides popular UK pocket information products.

RBS given green light

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has been given the go-ahead by the Department of Trade and Industry to make an agreed pounds 10.5m cash offer for Adam & Company Group, a private bank.

Fisons buyout

Fisons sold CP Pharmaceuticals, which produces a range of hospital products and employs 200 in Wrexham, to a management team led by Charles Savage. Terms were not disclosed.

World Markets

New York: Future-related selling and some pessimism over the economy kept shares in a narrow range. By the close the Dow Jones Average had improved a scant 0.56 points to 3,569.65.

Tokyo: The Nikkei Average ended down 20.11 at 20,745.17 on concerns over the unstoppable yen.

Hong Kong: Late buying reversed earlier falls, lifting the Hang Seng index 52.70 to 7,392.25

Seoul: A government ban on the use of false names in share trading stunned the market, lowering the composite index 32.37 at 693.57.

Sydney: The lower bullion price ruffled shares, leaving the All Ordinary index 17.4 adrift at 1,855.9.

Johannesburg: Nervous investors offloaded gold shares, depressing the index 96 points to 1,667, a 5.5 per cent decline.

Frankfurt: Foreign buying helped the DAX index to recover early losses. It ended 1.63 better at 1,906.58.

Paris: The CAC-40 index shed 13.87 as the Bank of France's cautious approach to interest rate cuts encouraged profit-taking.

London: Report, page 19.