World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia has approved a 62 billion riyal ($16.5 billion) plan to modernise the transport system in its holy city of Mecca, including building a bus network and metro system, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.
More than 6 million visitors from across the world visit Mecca every year for the Haj and Omra pilgrimages. The influx has strained the narrow roads and outdated transport system.
Four metro lines of a total length of 182 km (114 miles) will be built across the city, with 88 stations, SPA reported.
Construction for the transport project will be carried out over about 10 years, the report said, without giving details of when it would start or how companies would bid for contracts.
Last year the city's mayor told Reuters that within six years the government hoped to build new roads and foot bridges near the Grand Mosque, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba towards which Muslims turn in prayer.
Other long-term projects around the mosque include building hotels, malls and cafes. Developments in the suburbs include housing estates and a park for residents who have been made to relocate from the city centre.
Saudi Arabia is also spending billions on upgrading the transport system in the capital Riyadh and on a high-speed rail line connecting Mecca with the holy city of Medina.
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.