World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran dismissed a European Union oil embargo which took effect on Sunday and said it was fully prepared to counter the impact of sanctions with a $150 billion war chest of foreign reserves.
The EU ban on crude imports is part of a push by Western countries aimed at choking Iran's export earnings to try to force it to curb a nuclear programme.
"All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions and we are fully prepared to deal with them," Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in comments on the ministry's website.
Qasemi said Iranian oil was still being sold on international markets and that oil importers would be the big losers if a blockade leads to price rises.
The United States also has sanctions in place, although it has spared all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers from measures against them for dealing in Iranian crude for now.
The European Union banned new contracts for imports of Iranian crude in January, but allowed existing ones to continue until July 1. The embargo also covers transporting Iranian crude or insuring shippers who are carrying it.
Iranians lost jobs
There are signs the embargo is already having an impact on Iran's economy.
Its crude oil exports - which according to EU estimates represent some 80 percent of the government's export revenues and half of its income - have fallen by 40 percent this year. Iran used to export a fifth of its crude to EU countries.
The Iranian rial has fallen sharply and inflation is running at 20 percent. Tens of thousands of Iranians have lost their jobs and trade between Iran and Europe has halved in a year, according to Eurostat data from March.
The governor of Iran's central bank said it had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect itself.
"We are implementing programmes to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies," Mehr news agency quoted Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.
In three rounds of negotiations, Western powers have demanded Tehran halt its high-grade uranium enrichment activities, ship all high-grade uranium out of the country and close down a key enrichment facility.
Iran says its nuclear programme has only peaceful aims, but Western countries and nuclear-armed Israel fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
The euro reached $1.1388 Wednesday, the highest level since a year earlier.
The IMF warned that "significant policy uncertainties imply larger-than-usual" risks to the US outlook on either side, since spending cuts could lower growth, while tax cuts could provide stimulus and expand the economy.
Now the VNO-NCW is calling for the Dutch parliament to reverse a 2015 decision to introduce a cap of 20 percent of annual pay on the bonuses which can be paid out to top managers in the banking industry.
The state-owned energy trading firm Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas said it signed the deal with the Texas company Cheniere Energy.
Adding to the upward pressure for oil is the crisis in the Middle East, where a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar has fuelled concerns of possible conflict.
Bourses in both Paris and Frankfurt dipped after a report from data monitoring company IHS Markit showed Eurozone private sector business activity slowed sharply in June while staying in expansion mode.
Analysts said that while the downturn in the headline readings was disappointing, the economy continued to put in a strong performance.
Crude prices stabilised after diving more than two percent on Tuesday on increasing fears of a global supply glut, as continued production in the US and elsewhere offsets an OPEC output cut deal.
Move estimated to save company $1B in investment costs
However, most other regional markets struggled after Monday's healthy gains, despite being given a positive lead from Wall Street where the Dow and S&P 500 closed at fresh record highs.
The purchase in one fell swoop gives Amazon, which until now has operated almost entirely on the internet, a big presence in the brick-and-mortar world on Main Street, with more than 450 stores in the US, Canada and Britain.
"The Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to cut the key rate to 9.00 percent per annum," the bank said in a statement. The cut follows a half-point decrease in late April.