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vital statistics

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In the year to September 1996, there were more than 93,000 complaints to the Office of Fair Trading about cowboy builders in respect of home maintenance, double glazing and repairs to major domestic appliances. Complaints about second-hand car transactions numbered 85,000.

Sales of commercial housing in China rose 37.5 per cent in the first two months of this year, say state figures. Premier Zhu Rongji says housing will be a growth point for the economy in 1998.

The ftse 100 index closed above the 6000 level for the first time last week. Low interest rates and low inflation have underwritten a bull market, while fears over the effect of the strong pound and the Far East economies have been discounted.

The global cost of sorting out the Millennium Bug problem will be $600 billion, says us researcher Gartners. This compares with $100 billion for the Kobe earthquake, $500 billion for the Vietnam War, and $4,200 billion for the Second World War.

The pub industry is spending £12 million a week on conversions, but the amount of beer being drunk is declining - from 37 to 34 million barrels between 1991 and 1996. On present trends, half of all beer will be drunk at home by 2007.

British Airports Authority is to spend £70 million extending the Underground to the planned Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It is also helping fund two express rail links, which should mean 50 per cent of passengers arriving at the airport on public transport.

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