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Friday, 17 April 2009

Global's Palestine Weekly Market Report - April 16, 2009 (PDF)

Iran becomes biggest wheat importer

Iran has become the world’s largest importer of wheat, the country’s staple, in a blow to Tehran’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the crops it considers key to food security.

Iran has in months catapulted from being a minor player in the cereals market to the top buyer. It has even been forced to buy wheat from the US for the first time in 26 years.

The surge in cereal imports – due largely to drought – comes amid rising concern about food security among Middle East and North African countries that has led Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states to seek farmland overseas to grow crops.

General Growth files for Chapter 11

General Growth Properties, the second-biggest US shopping mall owner, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday amid the collapse in commercial property prices. The Chicago-based company owns more than 200 US malls, making it one of the largest real estate bankruptcies ever. With $27bn in net debt, General Growth last month failed to renegotiate new terms with bondholders for $2.25bn of debt. It said that 158 regional shopping centres it owns have also filed for bankruptcy.

Harsco Wins Second Major Contract in UAE - Update

Industrial service provider Harsco Corp. (HSC: News ), Thursday said Harsco Metals group has signed a major contract with the Emirates Steel Industries or ESI mill in Abu Dhabi under a new five-year agreement valued at more than $50 million over its term. The is contract is the second major contract that Harsco won in United Arab Emirates within the last two months.

According to the contract, The Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Harsco would undertake a comprehensive range of on-site services under an exclusive relationship that extends from the handling of incoming iron ore and other materials to finished product and co-product management.

Earlier in March, Harsco had been granted a contract worth more than $35 million. The company expects these contracts would help to start-up an all-new country of operation for the Harsco Metals business group.

Textron sale to UAE endangers secrets

Israel is concerned that the sale of the large American defense conglomerate Textron to a group of businessmen from the United Arab Emirates will jeopardize deals with Israeli defense industries.

The Israeli defense establishment has strong ties with companies owned by Textron. Bell Helicopter for example, manufactures the Cobra attack helicopter and still assists the IAF in its upkeep and maintenance.

In 2004, the IDF purchased several Dingo 2 armored cars for urban operations from Textron.

TrimTabs Estimates All Equity Mutual Funds Redeemed $5.2 Billion in Week Ended Wednesday, April 15

TrimTabs Investment Research estimates that all equity mutual funds redeemed $5.2 billion in the week ended Wednesday, April 15, versus a revised inflow of $3.8 billion in the previous week.

Equity funds that invest primarily in U.S. stocks posted an outflow of $3.0 billion, versus a revised inflow of $3.2 billion in the previous week. Equity funds that invest primarily in non-U.S. stocks had an outflow of $2.2 billion, versus a revised inflow of $563 million in the previous week. In addition, bond funds had an inflow of $27 million, versus a revised inflow of $6.7 billion in the previous week, and hybrid funds had an outflow of $50 million, versus a revised inflow of $550 million in the previous week.

Separately, TrimTabs reports that exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in U.S. stocks posted an outflow of $4.5 billion, versus an outflow of $1.4 billion in the previous week. ETFs that invest in non-U.S. stocks had an inflow of $1.3 billion, versus an inflow of $1.9 billion in the previous week.

RPT-UPDATE 1-Murray & Roberts withdraws from Dubai contract

South Africa's biggest construction firm Murray & Roberts (MURJ.J) has pulled out of a 5 billion rand ($544.8 million) contract in Dubai after failing to finalise "acceptable" terms with a client, it said on Thursday.

The project, which was to build the Dubai International Airport Concourse 3, was awarded to the Al Habtoor Murray & Roberts Takenaka Joint Venture last December by the Dubai Civil Aviation.

"The parties have concluded that a mutually acceptable contract is not currently possible," Murray & Roberts said in a statement.

Icahn Takes On Kerkorian in Big Las Vegas Showdown

Two legendary investors are preparing to face off in a high-stakes game whose outcome could reshape the face of Las Vegas.

Activist investor Carl Icahn is pushing casino operator MGM Mirage to restructure in bankruptcy court, according to people familiar with the matter. The gambit pits him against Kirk Kerkorian, MGM Mirage's largest owner and a swashbuckling investor who won and lost fortunes with big gambles in Las Vegas, Hollywood and Detroit.

Mr. Icahn and private-equity fund Oaktree Capital Management separately have acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in MGM Mirage debt in recent months. They told MGM Mirage, which must make a new equity payment by Friday on a big Las Vegas project, that they would support a restructuring in bankruptcy court, these people said.