Taper tantrums

The European Central Bank has signalled the end is nigh for its role as the stimulator of last resort. Seven years into ECB president Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” (more on that phrase later), and the eurozone economy is nearly deemed ready to stand unaided.

You can see why. GDP growth is strong, employment is up, and the bloc’s manufacturing sector expanded in August at the fastest rate since 2011, and the OECD leading indicators for the region are satisfactory.

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Gatecrashers

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden and his BP counterpart, Bob Dudley, were the star guests at the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen yesterday. To the surprise of no one, they used their keynote addresses in the spiritual home of the UK’s oil and gas industry to reaffirm their companies’ commitments to the North Sea.

This has become somewhat of a ritual for the European majors since oil prices began their sharp descent three years ago. Ironically, the chief executive best placed to offer soothing words was nowhere to be seen. Total boss Patrick Pouyanne would have cut a more reassuring figure on stage, given his firm’s surprise $7.45bn deal to buy Denmark’s Maersk Oil last month.

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