World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia and Italy ramped up their strategic cooperation on energy as Prime Minister Mario Monti made his first visit to the world's largest oil-producing nation on Monday to refresh ties that were typically warm under his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi.
Technocrat premier Monti met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow and was due to discuss plans for a major Russian gas export pipeline project to serve southern Europe at talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi later.
The meeting, at Putin's summer retreat in the Black Sea resort, was also expected to address international issues, including the deepening crisis in Syria.
South Stream, a Russian-backed pipeline project to ship gas from the Caspian region, is expected to cost more than 15 billion euros ($18 billion) and export 63 billion cubic metres of gas to southern Europe from 2015.
A final investment decision on South Stream, a rival to a European Union-backed project called Nabucco, is expected in November, with construction to start in December, the Kremlin said ahead of Monti's visit.
Project partner Eni said this month that it expected the final investment decision for South Stream in late 2012 or early 2013.
The South Stream consortium also includes France's EDF and Germany's Wintershall.
Eni also signed an exploration loan facility agreement on Monday with state-owned Russian oil major Rosneft. The agreement seals a major offshore exploration partnership that the two companies struck in April for projects in the Barents and Black seas.
The rate of loan growth to firms and consumers is a closely-watched indicator for the economic outlook.
Index sees rise of 6.8 pct from January to February, according to Turkish Statistical Institute
Since Britain voted last June to exit the European Union, the country's finance, car and airline sectors have been lobbying the loudest for continued access to the European single market.
France remained Germany's second largest trading partner while the US slipped from first to third place, as bilateral trade contracted by five percent to 165 billion euros.
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The unit was at 19.69 to the dollar, strengthening from around 19.90 on Thursday and up more than 10 percent from its record lows around 22.00 in early January.
The country's federal, state and local governments together achieved an overall surplus in their public finances of 23.7 billion euros ($25 billion) last year, according to Germany's statistics office Destatis.
Exchange rate dipped to as low as 3.5756 points, lowest figure since Jan 4.
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Net profit surged more than four times to £2.0 billion ($2.5 billion, 2.4 billion euros) in 2016 compared with net profit of £466 million a year earlier, LBG said in an earnings release.
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Aude Fleurant, head of the armaments program at Sipri, told AFP that "competition is fierce among European producers" with France, Germany and Britain in the lead.
PSA, the parent company of France's Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.
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