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THE European Commission decided to set minimum prices for imported white fish in a bid to halt a market collapse that has sparked violent protests by French fishermen. The EC executive took the advice of EC national fisheries officials and set minimum prices for cod, hake, haddock, coley and monkfish to stop a recent 15 to 30 per cent price drop.

Metals ended mostly lower on the London Metal Exchange, with all but tin moving higher as sentiment turned increasingly negative. Dealers said dull consumption prospects and general oversupply left the markets unable to absorb technical selling. Copper and zinc extended the previous day's losses, falling yesterday to three-and-a-half and four-month lows respectively, while nickel sustained sharp losses. Wheat and barley futures closed higher, due to speculation of possible export business on news that the Franco-Russian deal had been sorted out.