8 October 2001, 15:00  AFX Top stories - midday

LONDON (AFX) - UK manufacturers' raw material costs fell a seasonally adjusted 1.0 pct in September which left them 6.0 pct below their September 2000 level, National Statistics said. According to the AFX News median of analysts' forecasts, producer input prices were expected to have fallen 0.5 pct on the month for a 4.9 pct year-on-year drop.
NS said the annual fall was the largest since Feb 1999, a 6.5 pct drop.
LONDON (AFX) - UK September final M0 money supply rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.8 pct from August and was 6.3 pct higher than in September 2000, according to the Bank of England.
The figures were unchanged on provisional estimates.
FRANKFURT (AFX) - IMF chief economist Ken Rogoff said there is evidence the US will briefly slip into recession, but the slowdown will only be short-lived.
Speaking in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Rogoff said while there is evidence of an oncoming recession in the US, the economy there is in much better condition than Japan.
"We (the IMF) are as before convinced that the current weakness (in the US) is only a pause, and is not the end of the long term economic boom."
BRUSSELS (AFX) - Belgian Economy Minister Charles Picque said he sees the risk of a brief fall in consumer confidence in the euro at the time of the introduction of notes and coins from Jan 1.
In an interview with L'Echo, Picque, whose government holds the EU presidency, said the global economic slowdown and the repercussions of last month's terrorist attacks against the US increase the danger of a collapse in confidence in the single European currency.
STOCKHOLM (AFX) - Scandinavian Airlines Systems said the aircraft that crashed at Milan's Linate airport at 8.15 am was an MD-87, with an estimated 104 passengers on board and six crew.
According to judicial sources, at least 114 people have been killed in the runway collision between the SAS jet and a small Cessna plane, the ANSA news agency reported.
LONDON (AFX) - British Telecommunications PLC said it has teamed up with Cisco, Microsoft, Dell and BT Cellnet to create a single point of contact for the telecom and computing needs of its 1.2 mln small and medium-sized business (SMEs) customers.
BT has committed 6.6 mln stg to develop and market a range of single-point of contact solutions.
MADRID (AFX) - Amadeus Global Trabel Distribution SA said it expects to post third quarter to Sept 30 net profit before extraordinary items of 15-18 mln eur, with EBITDA of 85-90 mln including a bad debt provision of 11 mln.
Amadeus said revenue for the third quarter is forecast to grow 9 pct to 423 mln eur from a year earlier, and by 17 pct to 1.374 bln for the nine month period.
In the US, airline reservations fell 45.2 pct in the Sept 11-30 period from a year earlier and 32.0 pct Oct 1-5, compared to the 4.0 pct decline registered Sept 1-10.
LONDON (AFX) - Consignia, formerly the UK Post Office, has rejected a newspaper report claiming that the government plans to split the company into two under a radical restructuring plan, a Consignia spokeswoman said.
"We're not splitting into two... The structure of the company will remain," she said.
What Consignia is trying to change, she explained, is its cost structure in an attempt to save 1.2 bln stg by 2003.
VIENNA (AFX) - OPEC will wait for at least 48 hours before taking any decision on cutting output to support slumping prices, after the start of US-led attacks on Afghanistan, a spokesman said.
MADRID (AFX) - Repsol YPF SA, Gas Natural SDG SA and Enel SpA have signed a wide-ranging contract with Qatargas, including the annual supply of 6 bln cubic metres of gas from the Gulf state, Cinco Dias reported without citing a source.
Cinco Dias said the deal includes plans to develop gas fields, as well as the construction of infrastructure for processing and transportation, along with commercial contracts.
Total investments in the project are expected to exceed 1 bln usd. LONDON (AFX) - Balfour Beatty PLC said it has had assurances from the Government that the current work programmes in which it is engaged, the related expenditure levels and existing financial commitments, will be unaffected by the appointment of administrators to Railtrack Group PLC.
PARIS (AFX) - France's budget deficit totalled 248.6 bln ffr in the first eight months of the year, compared with a deficit of 224.3 bln a year earlier, the Finance Ministry said.
LONDON (AFX) - Invensys PLC confirmed it achieved an operating profit before amortisation and exceptional items for the six months ended September 30 in line with its guidance of 24 July , already reaffirmed on 20 September. The group said it will therefore exceed the requirements of its banking covenant.
LONDON (AFX) - Marconi PLC, the embattled telecom equipment maker, said its chief executive Mike Parton met Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt recently, to give an update on Marconi's action plan. When asked if the company has approached the government for aid, a spokesman said: "Mike did meet with Patricia Hewitt but the meeting was to discuss the results of Marconi's operations review and management action plans going forward."
VEVEY, Switzerland (AFX) - Nestle SA said it acquired a 60-pct stake in Haoji Food, the second-largest producer of chicken bouillon in China, for an undisclosed price.
Nestle said it will form a joint venture with Haoji, which serves western China, to be called Sichuan Haoji Food Co Ltd.

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