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The Independent Online
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has decided against bidding for the television rights to the World Cup Finals of 2002 and 2006, now being offered by the international football organisation Fifa. The decision not to bid for the exclusive rights was made by Mr Murdoch personally, according to sources at BSkyB, his UK satellite broadcaster. Finalists for the rights, unveiled yesterday in Switzerland, include Mark MacCormack's IMG, the international sport agency, Cable TV of Hong Kong, the Kirch Group of Germany and ABC Television, a leading US network.

New housebuilding starts in the US rose to the highest level for more than two years in April, despite an increase in mortgage rates. The unexpected increase revived inflation worries and sent Treasury bonds lower. Starts jumped 5.9 per cent to an annual rate of 1.52 million, 18.9 per cent higher than a year earlier. This followed a 5.2 per cent decline in March. Applications for building permits rose for the third time in a row last month. Separate figures showed an increase in the number of new unemployment claims last week, up 12,000 to 352,000. But the four-week average fell to 353,000, its lowest since September.

The US Treasury announced yesterday that it intends issue its first index-linked bonds in a multi-year trial. The start-date and details have not been fixed, pending a period of consultation. The Treasury believes there will be keen investor interest, especially from pension funds, but some Wall Street analysts were sceptical yesterday.

The pace of job cuts in West Germany will not slow until 1998, and firms will continue shedding labour until the end of the decade, the Ifo research institute said yesterday. A survey suggested firms planned average cuts of 1.1 per cent of the workforce a year from now until 2000.

Complaints about registered auditors fell 45 per cent to 181 in 1995, according to the latest report on audit regulation submitted by the English, Irish and Scottish institutes of chartered accountants to the Department of Trade and Industry. Only a small number of the complaints - applying to 2 per cent of the total number of auditors registered with the bodies - required action.

The World Gold Council said gold demand in the first quarter of this year fell 7 per cent year-on-year to 636 tons. Demand in developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America declined 2 per cent. Jewellery demand in developed markets declined 1 per cent. In India, demand declined 5 per cent to 118.8 tons, while US demand rose 6 per cent to 74.4 tons.

Sir James Goldsmith, the financier, has increased his stake in Australian rural services group and takeover target Elders Australia from 5.01 to 6.76 per cent. His share buying has fuelled speculation he will seek to wreck Elders planned merger with Futuris Corp. Shares in Elders fell as much as 4 cents to A$1.76, while shares in Futuris fell 4 cents to A$1.44. Bloomberg.