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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 17:23 GMT
Hugo Boss still in fashion
German fashion firm Hugo Boss has revised down its new orders estimates for 2002 in the wake of September's attacks in the United States but stuck to its forecast for 2001.

Boss said third-quarter operating profit fell 6% to 91.6m euros ($83m) from 97.4m euros a year earlier, while third-quarter sales were up 18%.

The result had been affected by a 34% rise in operating expenses, including extra costs of its women's line and the reorganisation costs at its core menswear operation.

Boss Woman generated sales of 42m euros in the nine months ended September, but posted an 18m euro loss compared with a 6m euro loss a year earlier.

Boss had said it expected the women's line to break even in 2002 or 2003.

Crude oil falls below $20

US crude oil prices have slumped to their lowest level since July 1999, pressured by gloomy US jobs data.

Crude oil for December delivery fell by 54 cents to $19.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the US Labor Department announced the steepest rise in unemployment in over 20 years.

Crude oil prices usually fall during economic downturns, in line with reduced energy demand.

The price of crude oil has fallen by over $10 a barrel, or 30%, since the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

Euro zone manufacturing slumps

Euro zone manufacturing activity fell for the seventh consecutive month in October, a survey from research group NTC shows.

The decline in activity is the steepest recorded in the monthly survey's four-year history, with output, employment and new orders all falling away sharply.

New orders fell most steeply in Germany, the euro zone¿s economic powerhouse.

Analysts blame the cancellation of investment projects in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks.

They add that the downbeat figures make it more likely that the European Central Bank will back a hefty cut in interest rates when its governing council meets on November 8.

M&S in property deal

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has sold 78 prime High Street stores to London-based property company Topland in a £348m deal.

The company will lease the stores back over the next 26 years at cost of £24.6m a year, at an annual interest rate of between 1.5% and 1.95%.

M&S executive director Robert Colvill said the deal would enable the company to "extract further value" from its property estate.

He said it would also provide the "occupational flexibility needed to support our revitalised trading plans."

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