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.
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.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
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.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
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.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
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.