World Bulletin/News Desk
Greece is making progress in agreeing new austerity measures with its international lenders but needs another two weeks to wrap up a deal, a senior government official said on Saturday.
The comments confirmed that Athens would fail to clinch a pact on almost 12 billion euros of savings before euro zone finance ministers meet on Monday, but both sides indicated progress was being made.
The cuts are necessary to keep the Greek budget within the targets set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund under the terms of the latest multi-billion-euro bailout staving off bankruptcy.
"There is good progress in the talks with the troika, there is convergence," a senior finance ministry official, who declined to be named, said after talks in Athens between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and officials from the troika of lenders - the EU, IMF and European Central Bank.
"We do not expect to have agreed on something before the eurogroup meeting," the official said, adding that talks would continue for another two weeks.
Greece's coalition government is trying to spare angry Greeks even deeper wage and pension cuts after five consecutive years of recession that have driven unemployment to record levels and slashed household incomes.
The official told reporters that Athens hoped for a statement from euro zone finance ministers on Monday confirming progress in the talks.
"This positive statement will be the signal for talks to continue ... next week and the week after that," he said.
Speaking in Riyadh on Saturday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said talks on the fiscal chapter of Greece's programme had been "very good and productive". The talks also cover structural reforms, financing and debt sustainability.
EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn also spoke of progress, saying negotiations had "moved on" and that agreement was possible in the coming days.
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.