World Bulletin / News Desk
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde met the leader of bailout candidate Greek Cyprus on Thursday, with both sides giving little away on the timing of financial aid to the island, battered by its exposure to Greece.
Euro zone minnow Greek Cyprus, with a GDP of just 17 billion euros, asked for aid in June to rescue its largest banks, heavily exposed to Greek debt. Talks with the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank, known as the troika, have been inconclusive.
"We had a good and productive engagement about the ongoing discussions concerning Cyprus," Lagarde told reporters after meeting Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, without elaborating. She was in Greek Cyprus to attend an informal gathering of European Union and euro zone finance ministers.
Greek Cyprus became the fifth euro zone nation to seek aid after its second largest bank failed to meet European regulatory capital requirements when it wrote down Greek sovereign debt holdings earlier this year. The island's largest bank has also sought state aid.
In addition to seeking aid from international lenders, the island has sought a 5 billion-euro bilateral loan from Russia, a close business and political ally.
Bailout estimates from the troika are still unclear, though some accounts put the figure at 10 billion euros.
In return, international lenders are demanding salary and pension cuts, pension reform and privatisations. Greek Cyprus's leftist government, which faces a general election in five months, has repeatedly said any measures should be balanced and not push the island deeper into recession.
Asked about the timing of any bailout deal, Christofias said: "When we are ready."
Greek Cyprus intends to counter the troika's proposals with proposals of its own, a government official said. Authorities plan to consult political parties and labour unions, a move the official said would give authorities a stronger hand in negotiations.
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.