World Bulletin/News Desk
Dutch voters are split over whether the government should stick to its EU budget target as the country heads for an election on September 12 dominated by the euro sovereign debt crisis and austerity measures, an opinion poll published on Sunday showed.
The poll, and another published at the weekend, showed Prime Minister Mark Rutte's pro-euro Liberal Party (VVD) and the far-left Socialist Party (SP) vying for lead position to form a coalition government in one of the few euro states to retain a full set of top AAA credit ratings. In a Maurice de Hond poll published on Sunday, 48 percent of those polled said the budget deficit could be higher next year than the EU's deficit ceiling, and 48 percent agreed that the
economy would suffer too much if the target was kept.
However, 58 percent of those polled said they thought it was irresponsible of Socialist leader Emile Roemer, who some polls show could become the next prime minister, to say the Netherlands would refuse to pay an EU penalty if it did not comply with the budget limit.
The poll put the Socialists ahead with 36 seats in the 150-seat parliament, followed by the Liberals with 32. An Ipsos
poll on Friday evening showed Rutte's party winning 35 seats, ahead of the Socialists with 29.
Whichever party wins the most seats would need to form a coalition from four or five parties given the country's
fractured political landscape. As campaigning gained momentum last week, politicians clashed over the Netherlands' commitment to meet EU rules by bringing its budget deficit down to below 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by next year.
The Dutch deficit is expected to be 4.2 percent of GDP in 2012, but Rutte's care-taker government has promised it will fall to 2.9 percent, below the EU target, by a deadline of 2013.
Rutte's coalition collapsed in April when his ally, Geert Wilders, refused to support billions of euros of budget cuts to
meet the EU target. Within days of the collapse, Rutte's care-taker government won support from three opposition parties for the budget measures.
The company said the deal would make Total the second-largest operator in the North Sea, with substantial operations in Britain, Norway and Denmark.
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.