Business & City Summary

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February car sales rise 15 per cent

New UK car registrations in February totalled 145,710, up 14.75 per cent on February 1993, according to figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Registrations in the first two months of the year were 344,235, a 17.92 per cent rise on the January-February total for 1993.

Pearson park

Pearson hopes to attract 2.5 million vistors annually to a Spanish theme park in which it is investing pounds 33m for a 40 per cent stake. The site at Salou, south of Barcelona, is Spain's answer to Euro Disney, and is expected to open by the spring of 1995.

Photo finish

A decision on the pounds 30m sale of United Racecourses, which owns Epsom, Sandown and Kempton Park courses, was deferred until 22 March. The Horserace Betting Levy Board said it needed further clarification from the three bidders, Racecourse Holdings Trust, Sunset & Vine, and a consortium led by Stan Clarke, head of St Modwen Properties.

More houses built

The National House-Building Council said 14,600 applications to start new homes were made last month, compared with 11,900 in February last year. Total starts in the first two months of the year were 31 per cent higher than the same two months of 1993.


Mercedes said its Swatchmobile car, being developed with the Swatch watch company, will be launched in 1997. The car will be 2.5 metres long and between 1.4 and 1.5 metres wide, meaning that in many city areas drivers will be able to park it sideways. It has not been decided whether the car will be powered by electricity or petrol/diesel. The car company said production costs would be modest.

Watching hedges

A senior Deutsche Bank official said hedge funds should improve their disclosure, but added it was not necessary to set up a watchdog for them. 'I share the fear about the lack of transparency,' said Rolf Breuer, a board member in charge of share trading. Speculative hedge funds have been blamed for the recent volatility on the world financial markets.

Stagecoach cleared

The President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, decided not to refer to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission the acquisition by Stagecoach, a coach operator, of Western Travel, a regional bus company.

Campbell Soup sale

Campbell Soup has sold its Campbell Chilled Foods subsidiary in the UK to Albert Fisher Group. Campbell Chilled Foods, based in York, manufactures and markets chilled sandwiches and salads.

World Markets

New York: Investors took advantage of calm in the bond market to shop for bargains. The Dow Jones industrial average closed 7.88 points up at 3,832.30.

Tokyo: Foreign buying on the weaker yen left the Nikkei 225 up 360.14 at 19,966.

Hong Kong: Late bargain-hunting lifted the Hang Seng index 111 to 9,913.

Sydney: Fears of a trade war between Japan and the US knocked the All Ordinaries index 34.6 points lower to 2,116.8.

Johannesburg: Industrials put in another strong showing, backed by persistent overseas demand. The overall index ended 71 better at 5,002.

Germany: The DAX index gained 22.19 to 2,060.09.

Milan: Investors recovered their nerve sufficiently to push the Mibtel index 38 ahead to 10,378.

Zurich: The SPI index advanced 36.50 to 1,839.31.

Paris: Renewed strength in bond markets and a better tone on Wall Street helped the CAC-40 index recover 24.28 to 2,178.69.

London: Report, page 20.