World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran's parliament voted on Sunday to consider suspending plans for further reform of the country's food and fuel subsidies, with legislators citing economic pain caused by the plunge of the rial currency, Iranian media reported.
Subsidy reform has been a centrepiece of the economic policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so parliament's vote was a political blow to the president at a time when he faces growing public discontent over the rial's slide.
Of 240 members of parliament present, 179 voted to consider whether to halt the second phase of subsidy reform, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA). It did not say when the decision would be made.
The reform aims to ease pressure on state finances by cutting tens of billions of dollars from the amount which the government pays to subsidise low consumer prices for food and fuel, while offsetting the impact on Iran's poorest citizens by giving them monthly cash payments.
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.