FINANCIAL BRIEFS

FINANCIAL BRIEFS

JAPANESE OFFICIAL HINTS

AT IMMINENT RATE HIKEBASEL, Switzerland - A senior Bank of Japan official Tuesday hinted at the possibility of an imminent hike in Japan's official discount rate by pointing to a number of conditions that would warrant such a hike.

''The economy is not overheated and prices are stable. However, when you look at the future of the economy, you cannot ignore the growing labor shortage and the increasing costs of imports due to the depreciation of the yen and higher oil prices," he said.

''The money supply is on the rise as is the price of land outside major metropolitan areas in Japan," said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition that he not be identified.

LAZARD FRERES HIRES

JAPAN BANKING EXPERT

PARIS - The French investment bank Lazard Freres has hired a former Bank of Japan governor, Satoshi Sumita, as special consultant for its three branches in London, New York and Paris, the bank said in a statement Monday.

Mr. Sumita, 73, served as head of the Japanese bank from September 1984 to

December 1989.

FRENCH TO RETURN GOLD

TO LITHUANIAN LEADERS

PARIS - The Bank of France is ready to return 2.2 metric tons of gold to the Lithuanian authorities, which the French government will recognize, a bank spokesman said Tuesday.

The gold was entrusted to the Bank of France before the beginning of World War II, he said. The Lithuanian parliament proclaimed on Sunday Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union, a decision which so far has been considered as "illegal" by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

BANKS IN YUGOSLAVIA

FACING BANKRUPTCY

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - Twenty-one Yugoslavian banks are facing bankruptcy as a result of the government's introduction of a tight monetary policy, the Politika newspaper quoted national bank deputy governor Mitja Gaspari as saying.

If these banks do not find new funds to enable them to start operating under the new free market rules by the end of March, "they will be forced to close their doors," he said.

HONGKONG BANK POSTS

11 PERCENT PROFIT RISE IN '89

HONG KONG - Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp., regarded by bankers as the largest bank in Asia outside Japan, reported Tuesday that its earnings rose 11 percent in 1989.

Despite economic slowdowns in all of the bank's major markets, it said its full-year profit rose to HK$4.77 billion ($612 million) from HK$4.3 billion ($550 million) in 1988.