World Bulletin / News Desk
SWIFT, the inter-bank money transfer system, said Friday it has cut off the last North Korean banks on the network, as international pressure mounts on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
"The DPRK banks remaining on the network are no longer compliant with SWIFT’s membership criteria. As a result, these entities will no longer have access to the SWIFT financial messaging service," the Brussels-based group said in a statement.
"Given the increased ongoing international attention on the DPRK, SWIFT has informed the Belgian and EU authorities," it said, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.
The statement did not say how many North Korean banks were involved.
The United States has led efforts to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, fearing that its ultimate aim is to be able to hit the US mainland.
US Secretary of State Max Tillerson warned Friday on a visit to South Korea that the North's ambitions had to be halted and that all options, including military, remained on the table.
"If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, then that option's on the table," Tillerson said in Seoul.
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.