City news In Brief

Six key German economic institutes will warn Chancellor Helmut Kohl this week that Germany will miss the public deficit target for a single currency. They are forecasting it will be 3.2 per cent against the Maastricht criteria of 3 per cent. Despite this Mr Kohl insisted yesterday that neither the criteria for EMU nor the launch date of 1 January 1999 were open to debate.

More than two-thirds of companies are suffering from skills shortages, according to a survey by Reed Personnel Services. Shortages are most acute in the retail sector where 75 per cent of firms complain of a lack of suitably qualified staff.

Severn Trent, the English water company, has signed a multi-million five-year deal with the Scottish electricity supplier Hydro-Electric to handle all its billing, marketing and mail shots.

A privatised train company is launching the first train miles scheme. Great North Eastern Railway offers passengers one point for every pounds 10 spent, redeemable against rail and sea travel and theatre tickets. The offer will be restricted initially to first-class passengers.