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The Independent Online
Directors of NFC, the transport logistics company, had a rough ride from shareholders at yesterday's annual meeting over the group's poor share performance in the past year. While a positive trading statement edged the shares up 5p to 157.5p, the price is way below a 1996/97 high of 200p. Sir Christopher Bland, chairman, told shareholders that "market conditions remain challenging, especially in Europe where the group's business has been affected by drivers' strikes in France and Spain". For the year to September 1996 NFC reported a pre-tax profit of pounds 105.2m, up from pounds 38.6m.

Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England, warned of the dangers of a political backlash against low inflation policies if Europe did not solve its structural unemployment problem. Speaking at the Institute of Petroleum's annual dinner, he said: "Unemployment is the most urgent issue confronting Europe." The Governor said that while the Maastricht timetable might constrain growth in the short run, labour market rigidities had also pushed up structural unemployment over the long term.

Consumer prices in the US increased by only 0.1 per cent in January, taking the annual inflation rate down to 3.0 per cent from 3.3 per cent in December. The core inflation rate, excluding food and energy, declined to 2.5 per cent. Although the figures were much better than expected, just one component - air fares - accounted for the surprisingly low increase in core prices.