News in brief

Trade war steps up

UK engineers could be hit by a second EU-US trade dispute over agricultural produce. Refusal to allow imports of US beef treated with hormones means 100% retaliatory tarrifs for a $1bn list of imports, including motorcycles.

Successful Hunting

Defence and oil group Hunting raised pre-tax profits to £45.5m for 1998, up £1.6m on 1997. The rise comes despite a fall in turnover of £335m to £982m, caused by the low oil price and difficult aviation markets.

Glynwed falls

Midlands-based engineering group Glynwed saw turnover fall last year to £1bn from £1.2bn in 1997. Pre-tax profits before exceptional items fell to £77m from £89m. The firm aims to double turnover at its two core divisions, pipe systems and consumer and foodservice products, having shifted out of metals businesses.

Invensys unveiled

BTR-Siebe, the recently merged £10bn electronics and engineering group, has chosen Invensys as its new name from a list of 3,000 possibles. It will be put to shareholders for approval on 16 April.

Low for exports

Exports hit a four-year low this week, prompting further calls for an interest rate cut. The slump was driven by the Far East crisis, lower US orders and an 8.5% fall in exports to non-EU countries. Inflation also dipped below the Government’s target, figures out on Tuesday revealed.

Pay frozen

Pay freezes made up 20% of pay settlements recorded during the three months to February by the Engineering Employers’ Federation. The average settlement was stable at 2.6%.