European shares turn positive; banks rebound

European shares turned positive in morning trade on Monday, with banks rebounding from earlier falls as investors reassessed last week’s news that U.S. President Barack Obama planned to curb banks risk-taking. By 1019 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,026.46 points, after earlier being down as low as 1,017.98. Banks added the most points to the index. HSBC (HSBA.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and Barclays (BARC.L) rose 1.5 to 3.8 percent. (Reporting by Joanne Frearson) WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell at the fastest pace on record in December, though prices rose for the first time since the credit crisis began in August 2007, an industry trade group said on Monday. [Read the full article]

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The U.S. State Department has consistently failed to properly monitor defense contractor DynCorp International’s (DCP.N) $2.5 billion, five-year-old effort to train Iraqi police, a government audit found on Monday. Stuart Bowen, the U.S. government’s special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said the State Department has exercised “weak oversight” of DynCorp’s contract, failing to watch over the money being spent on the training program. “As a result, over $2.5 billion in U.S. funds are vulnerable to waste and fraud,” according to the report released by Bowen. [Read the full article]

U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) signed a final contract on Monday for the development of Iraq’s 8.7-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One oilfield. The partners, who will work with an Iraqi state-run oil company, won the right to develop the supergiant field in negotiations with the Oil Ministry last year following Iraq’s June oilfield auction, the first since the 2003 U.S. invasion. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, editing by Michael Christie and Amanda Cooper) WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell at the fastest pace on record in December, though prices rose for the first time since the credit crisis began in August 2007, an industry trade group said on Monday. [Read the full article]

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The European Commission said on Monday it was concerned by delays to a report by a panel of the World Trade Organisation on aircraft maker Boeing (BA.N). Boeing’s European rival Airbus (EAD.PA) fears the six-month delay to the crucial WTO report could harm Airbus’s chances of winning a multi-billion-dollar Pentagon contract. “The Commission is naturally concerned,” a European Commission spokeswoman told a daily news briefing in Brussels. BEIJING (Reuters) – China widened its attack against U.S. criticisms of Internet censorship on Monday, raising the stakes in a dispute that has put Google in the middle of a political quarrel between the two global powers. [Read the full article]

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