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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Dubai Stocks Advance on Signs of Economic Recovery, Oil Prices

Dubai shares rose for the second time this week, leading gains in Gulf markets, on signs the U.S. economy is recovering and as oil rose amid freezing weather in parts of the Northern hemisphere.

Emaar Properties PJSC, the developer of the world’s tallest tower, opened and renamed Burj Khalifa yesterday, added as much as 2.5 percent. Dubai Investments PJSC, an investor in real estate and dairy farms, headed for its biggest advance in three weeks. Dubai’s DFM General Index gained 1.1 percent to 1,837.2 at 11:40 a.m. in the emirate. The measure lost 2.6 percent yesterday.

U.S. stocks surged the most in almost two months yesterday and Asian stocks climbed after U.S. manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in more than three years. Crude oil traded near a 14-month high as cold weather in the U.S., the largest energy consumer, and improving global economies bolstered the outlook for fuel demand. Oil traded at $81.75 a barrel. The Gulf region produces about 20 percent of the world’s oil.

UAE's Dana Gas hits Egypt 2009 target, discovers well

UAE-based Dana Gas said on Tuesday it hit its target in Egypt by achieving a production rate in excess of 40,000 barrels of oil and gas per day for 2009, an increase of 27 percent on the previous year.

The news drove shares as much as 6.3 percent higher on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange.

The company's average daily production rate for the period ending December 31 was 34,750 barrels of oil and gas per day, up 20 percent from 2008, it said in a statement.

Dana Gas, which relies on Egypt for the bulk of its income, said it made its ninth gas discovery in the country from the Orchid-1 well.

Oil price not too high, inventories falling-Kuwait

OPEC member Kuwait is content with an oil price above $80 a barrel, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's very nice," the minister said when asked if oil above $80 a barrel was too high. "It's not too high."

U.S. crude traded at $81.78 on Tuesday, after closing at its highest level for nearly 15 months on Monday. The price is above the $75 that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has said was fair for both producers and consumers.

Oman begins implementing new tax regime

Oman has started implementation of the new tax regime which applies 12 per cent tax on all to all companies incorporated in Oman, irrespective of the nationality of the shareholders, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported Tuesday.

“The new law supports the Sultanate's aspirations to attract foreign companies to the Omani market, encourage competition, establish the principles of tax equity, efficiency, and transparency,” Kuna quoted Saud bin Nasser Al-Shukaili, the Secretary General of Taxation at the Omani Finance Ministry.

Oman’s the tax revenues for 2009 increased to 300 million Omani Riyals (OMR) compared to OMR 236 million in 2008. According to Al Shukaili the new tax law conforms with requirements of the present stage after Oman's signing on the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Oman's membership in the World Trade Organization Agreement.

Abu Dhabi's Waha closes $1.8 bln army deal

Abu Dhabi-listed Waha Capital finalised a $1.8 billion financing deal for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces to buy Airbus and Boeing military aircraft, the firm said on Tuesday.

The financing deal enables the military to buy three Airbus A-330-200s at a cost of $1.2 billion and six Boeing C-17 planes worth $634 million, it said in a statement.

Waha, formerly known as Oasis International Leasing Co, changed from a solely leasing company into an investment company in 2008 with four subsidiaries, including real estate, financial services, leasing and maritime.

Saudi Arabia’s Economy to Grow 4.5 Percent, Goldman Sachs Says

Saudi Arabia’s economy, the largest in the Arab world, will grow 4.5 percent this year as public spending and the strength of the banking and household sector boost the recovery, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

“The Saudi authorities currently have considerable fiscal resources at hand, which would enable them to support the economy and ensure that recovery is sustained through 2010,” Ahmet Akarli, a London-based economist at Goldman Sachs, said in an e-mailed note late yesterday.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, forecast a budget deficit of 70 billion riyals ($18.7 billion) this year as the government plans to spend 540 billion riyals, 14 percent above its target for last year. The shortfall in 2009 was 45 billion riyals, the finance ministry said, 20 billion riyals below the previous government forecast. It was the first deficit since 2002, according to Banque Saudi Fransi.

Al Sanea resists investigators' interview demands - The National Newspaper

Al Sanea resists investigators' interview demands - The National Newspaper

TURKMENISTAN: WESTERN FIRMS SHUT OUT FROM DEVELOPMENT DEALS

Turkmenistan appears to be implementing an eastern strategy in order to export natural gas to the West.

Ashgabat has traditionally shipped most of its gas to Russia, but a long-lasting pricing dispute has severely strained the two countries’ special energy relationship. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

In early December, Turkmenistan inaugurated an export route to China - a momentous export-diversification move. And on December 30, Ashgabat took the first step toward possibly upping its export volume to Western Europe countries by awarding $9.7 billion in contracts to develop the South Yolotan gas field.

VW preferreds fall on Qatar's lock-up end

Fears of a looming supply glut hit Volkswagen preferred stock on Monday, which finished the first trading session of the new year as the worst performer among all 30 German blue chips.

The preferred stock, which replaced its ordinary shares in the DAX index on Dec. 23, closed 1.9 percent lower at 64.50 euros in a rising market.

A lock-up period for the preferred shares held by Qatar Holding LLC expired at the end of December, allowing the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund to place further stock on the market following its roughly 1.5 billion euro ($2.15 billion) sale of 25 million shares in November.

Go-ahead for Thames Gateway project

The port arm of debt-ridden Dubai World has announced it is pressing on with its delayed Thames Gateway project after putting the £1.5 billion development under review.

DP World said it had decided to go ahead with "essential infrastructure" for the port, which will be built on the north bank of the Thames estuary.

There had been fears over the future of DP World's flagship UK project after the group took stock amid a steep downturn in global trade and in light of Dubai's recent woes.

Comment: Burj bet may pay off – eventually

As the fireworks tore into the night sky yesterday to announce the opening of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, I was reminded of the belief that many stars are the light of suns extinguished long ago.

Burj Khalifa, unveiled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, is a testament to a boom-time mentality that gripped the city in the first decade of this century – but one that has been replaced by a more sombre reality.

As Mohammed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar, the developer, tells it, the decision to build the world’s tallest tower came after Sheikh Mohammed chided him for lacking ambition when presented with plans to build a skyscraper lower than the towers then being constructed in Asia.

Emirate crane units clamour to be paid

At the height of Dubai's building boom, perhaps half of all the world'scranes taller than 60m were thought to be crammed into the tiny emirate.

The urgent demand to build had a magnetic attraction for the global lifting and hoisting industry. Crane manufacturers, hire companies and specialist rigging businesses flooded the desert skyline with an increasingly ambitious array of projects.

"Up until the end of [2008], we were delivering 15 to 20 new cranes a month to Dubai," says David Semple, the Middle East sales director forManitowoc, one of the world's leading crane manufacturers. Since early last year, demand has fallen to zero, he adds.

Dubai tops its troubles with tallest tower

Dubai marked the opening of the world’s tallest tower on Monday by renaming it after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, who bailed the troubled emirate out of its debt woes last month.

On the fourth anniversary of his accession to power in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum launched an hour-long sound-and-light extravaganza to assembled local dignitaries in front of the 828m tower.

The public packed into the surrounding retail and residential developments to watch a spectacular firework display.

Gulf forecast to enjoy a year of uneven growth

The Gulf's recent economic growth bonanza came to an abrupt end last year amid a spate of defaults, slumping property prices, lower hydrocarbon revenues and turbulent financial markets.

Towards the end of the year, higher-than-expected oil prices and expansionary fiscal policies encouraged a tentative recovery, but in late November confidence was rattled by Dubai's decision to restructure some of its state-linked debt.

Though bourses outside the United Arab Emirates recovered quickly from the initial shock, over-leveraged Dubai has served as a reminder that the Gulf has not escaped the global financial crisis unscathed.