World Bulletin/News Desk
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to stress the importance of Egypt reaching an IMF agreement and achieving political consensus for painful economic reforms, a U.S. official said on Saturday.
Speaking shortly before Kerry arrived in Cairo for a two-day visit, the official said if Egypt could agree on a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, this would bring in other funds from the United States, European Union and Arab countries.
However, the official said Kerry believed Egypt needed to increase tax revenues and reduce energy subsidies, measures that are likely to prove highly unpopular with Egyptians who are struggling during the country's economic crisis.
"His basic message is it's very important to the new Egypt for there to be a firm economic foundation," the official told reporters as Kerry flew to Cairo.
"In order for there to be agreement on doing the kinds of economic reforms that would be required under an IMF deal there has to be a basic political ... agreement among all of the various players in Egypt," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Egypt said on Thursday it would invite a team from the International Monetary Fund to reopen talks the loan - which was agreed in principle last November but put on hold at Cairo's request during street violence the following month - and the Investment Minister Ashraf al-Araby expressed hope that a deal could be done by the end of April.
Egypt's foreign currency reserves have fallen to not much more than a third of their level before the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak as the nation's crisis deepens.
Nevertheless, Kerry will stress the need for agreement on reform across the political spectrum on reforms that are likely to be unpopular and winning approval in the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament.
"What they need to do is ... things like increasing tax revenues, reducing energy subsidies, making clear what the approval process will be to the Shura council for an IMF agreement, that kind of thing," said the official.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
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In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
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London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
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HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.