US court victory for BAT

SHARES IN BAT Industries yesterday shot up nearly 4 per cent after the tobacco company's latest US court victory. A federal court on Friday said the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) had overstepped its authority when it issued regulations to restrict advertising and the sale of tobacco products to minors. The decision comes as BAT is poised to float off its insurance interests and become a pure tobacco company. BAT shares rose 23p to 651p.

The ruling follows a string of similar legal advances in the US, which have led to tobacco firms such as Philip Morris outperforming the market by 14 per cent since June. But the battle is not over: President Clinton at the weekend vowed to press ahead with anti-tobacco legislation. He said the administration would appeal against Friday's court ruling. But he also called on Congress to work with him on new anti-tobacco laws that would avoid the use of further court cases.