World Bulletin / News Desk
France will convene in the first half of September a rapid reaction forum of G20 countries if upcoming data on grain markets points to serious tensions following drought in the United States and Russia, a farm ministry official said on Monday.
The French government announced on Saturday it was ready to call an emergency meeting on grains in light of a surge in world prices driven by the worst drought in more than 50 years in the U.S. Midwest crop belt.
To judge the gravity of the situation, France is waiting for a U.S. government crop report on Aug. 10 and then a study from a G20 information body in late August or early September, the ministry official said.
"It's too early to tell if we are heading towards a crisis or if the situation is going to turn our normally," he said. "We have to be vigilant."
A first-ever gathering of farm ministers from the Group of 20 countries last year set up a data-sharing system, known as AMIS, to improve transparency in agricultural markets, with the aim of tackling price volatility and ensuring food security.
France currently presides the G20 agriculture body and will hand over the presidency to the United States at the end of September, the official said.
The initiative aims to encourage major producing countries to avoid unilaterally imposing trade restrictions, moves that have been widely blamed for exacerbating market tensions during price spikes in 2007/08 and 2010.
Russia banned grain exports for almost a year after a severe drought two years ago and weather problems this year have fuelled market rumours it could resort to export curbs again.
But Russia has given reassuring indications in contacts through the AMIS system, the French official said.
"We have the impression that Russia wants to act in the spirit of the G20," he said.
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.