The Bank of England needs to start hiking record-low interest rates in the coming months, governor Mark Carney indicated on Wednesday, adding that the economy was rapidly gaining strength. Carney, speaking at a Glasgow conference before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, said there was no "preset course" for when the central bank would start lifting borrowing costs, while any hikes would be "gradual and limited". His comments came as minutes showed that the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) were unanimous in keeping the bank's key interest rate at an all-time low of 0.50 percent earlier this month. "The UK economy has been growing rapidly," Carney said on Wednesday in Glasgow.
Britain and France are trading accusations of hypocrisy over sanctions against Russia in a row that reveals deeper European divisions on how to react to the MH17 disaster, analysts said Wednesday. The "Entente Cordiale" entered one of its less cordial phases this week, with Britain slamming France's 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) warship deal with Moscow, and Paris saying London remains a haven for Russian oligarchs.
The General National Congress, which has governed violence-wracked Libya since dictator Moamer Kadhafi's overthrow, said Wednesday it will hand over legislative power to a newly elected parliament on August 4. "Monday, August 4m has been set as the date for the transfer of power... to the elected chamber," the GNC said in a statement signed by its speaker, Nuri Abu Sahmein. Under a law passed by the GNC, the new assembly is to sit in the eastern city of Benghazi, which was the bastion of the 2011 uprising but has since epitomised the lawlessness of post-Kadhafi Libya.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame named the former labour minister Anastase Murekezi as the new prime minister on Wednesday, a presidential statement said. The appointment is expected to bring in a possible cabinet reshuffle, as under Rwanda's constitution, ministers must be chosen -- or reappointed -- by the new prime minister. Murekezi, who has served as the labour minister since 2008, is the fifth prime minister since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He replaces Pierre Habumuremyi, who had held the post since 2011.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is not ruling out any options on the shape of a Gaza ceasefire, he said on Wednesday as he intensified efforts to end the bloodshed. On his third day of shuttling between regional leaders, Kerry said he saw signs of progress on ending two weeks of fighting that has killed more than 700, mostly Palestinians. He hinted that his discussions hinged on tinkering with an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which was earlier rejected by Hamas. "All of the issues of Gaza would be on the table," Kerry told reporters after meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who comes from the rival Fatah faction.
Bob McDonald, President Barack Obama's choice to run the Veterans Affairs Department, looked set for an easy Senate confirmation after the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approved his nomination on Wednesday. McDonald, the former chief executive of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co, pledged to senators on Tuesday to bring corporate-style discipline, accountability and efficiency to the troubled agency, which has been rocked by healthcare waiting time scandals and accusations of mismanagement and fraud. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who is chairman of the veterans committee, said after the 14-0 vote that he expects the full Senate to confirm McDonald as secretary of the department within days.
Russia announced Wednesday that it had begun expanding and modernising its Black Sea fleet based in Crimea with new ships and submarines, just months after annexing the peninsula from Ukraine. "Today we have started forming a powerful Black Sea fleet with an absolutely different level of air service, coastal missile and artillery troops and marines," said Alexander Vitko, the Black Sea fleet commander, in a message to servicemen. Russia's Black Sea fleet had a base at the historic port city of Sevastopol in Crimea under an agreement with Ukraine before Russia annexed the peninsula in March.
Damascus on Wednesday said it welcomes the nomination of Staffan de Mistura as new UN peace envoy, while demanding he show "objectivity and integrity" in pursuing his Syria mission. The Italian-Swedish diplomat was on July 10 named to replace hugely respected Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned in May after two frustrating rounds of peace talks between the regime and rebels ended in failure. In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon published by state news agency SANA Wednesday, Syria's foreign ministry said it welcomed De Mistura's appointment, while stressing its "conviction of the need for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, through Syrian-led dialogue among Syrians". "We hope De Mistura... will show objectivity and integrity, and (commitment to) international law and the principles and objectives of the UN Charter, chiefly respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, while respecting the Syrian people's will."
Iraqi lawmakers on Wednesday postponed choosing a new president for their ailing country while air strikes, suicide car bombs and summary executions yielded their daily grim crop of bodies. A government air raid on the jihadist-held town of Sharqat nearly 300 kilometres (180 miles) northwest of Baghdad killed at least three women and a child, a senior army official told AFP. Police and medical sources in the town said another four people were killed in the strike, which destroyed the municipality building and a house in an area believed to shelter Islamic State (IS) fighters. Civilians have been paying a heavy price for the government's aerial campaigns against the group, which conquered large swathes of Iraq's west and north in a devastating offensive last month.
By Douwe Miedema and Michelle Price WASHINGTON/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A member of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission will become the new head of a bank lobby group that is fighting the derivatives regulator in court over a crucial new rule curtailing Wall Street. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association said on Wednesday that Scott O'Malia, a Republican who often voted against new CFTC policy in the wake of the financial crisis, will become the trade group's next chief executive. O'Malia will start his new job as of Aug. 18, ISDA said. The news came only days after O'Malia said he planned to leave the CFTC as of Aug. 8.
As the Commonwealth Games kicked off in Glasgow on Wednesday, the chief protagonists in Scotland's independence debate called an unofficial ceasefire, as voters said they would not be swayed by attempts to exploit the event for political ends. Scotland goes to the polls on September 18 to decide whether to end its 307-year-long membership of the United Kingdom, and the campaign for independence reportedly hopes a successful Games will boost their cause. Scotland's pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond received sharp criticism last year for brandishing the Scottish flag directly behind pro-union British Prime Minister David Cameron's head when Andy Murray won at Wimbledon last year -- not least from the Scottish tennis hero himself. Perhaps mindful of that criticism, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Salmond on Tuesday revealed he had issued himself a "self-denying ordinance" during the Games, which run until August 3.