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Thursday, 31 March 2011

MENA stock markets close - March 31, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
QE (Qatar Exchange)
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)

Mauritius launches its first Islamic bank | Reuters

Mauritius' first fully-fledged Islamic bank launched operations on Thursday, as the Indian Ocean island seeks to become a regional Islamic banking hub.

Mauritius wants to tap into the roughly $1 trillion Islamic finance industry, and the central bank also plans to offer sharia-compliant short-term liquidity tools.

Hesham Shokry, chairman of Century Bank said its first two to three years would focus on wholesale banking and treasury and wealth management. Wholesale banking, he said, would comprise debt and equity capital markets and fund management.

A GCC-wide VAT will aid recovery: IMF - Emirates 24/7

With a fragile economic recovery underway in the country, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested that the emirate of Dubai consolidate its debt ratios, which it believes will be aided by the introduction of GCC-wide value-added tax (VAT).

“Dubai should undertake fiscal consolidation to achieve a comfortable debt-to-GDP ratio over the medium-term. The planned introduction of a GCC-wide VAT would enhance revenue mobilisation capabilities and facilitate such consolidation,” the IMF said in a mission statement on the UAE’s economy today.

After a 3.2 per cent decline in 2009, the UAE’s economy returned to growth in 2010, with the momentum carrying into 2011, the IMF said, while cautioning that several factors, including the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to pose downside risks to the country’s growth prospects.

Depa posts 2010 loss in 'recession year'

Interior contractors Depa reported a 2010 net loss of Dh198.2 million ($53.98 million), as the Dubai-based firm was hurt by claims over the world's largest tower and goodwill impairment charges.

Depa said in a statement to Nasdaq Dubai on Thursday that it incurred an operating loss of Dh3.8 million for the year, excluding the one-time Burj Khalifa interim claim of Dh186 million, which has been taken through the income statement.

Chief executive Mohannad Sweid said 2010 was the company's 'recession year' but expects to return to high profit levels in 2011. It reported a goodwill impairment and deferred tax asset write-off of Dh67 million for the year.

Dubai's Amlak posts 2010 net loss as income drops | Alrroya

Dubai's troubled Islamic mortgage lender Amlak reported a loss in 2010, as property-related income dropped and the lender booked impairments on its Islamic financing and investment assets. Amlak made a net loss of Dh219 million ($59.64 million) for the year, it said in a statement to the Dubai bourse, compared with a loss of Dh177.37m in 2009.

Earnings fell as the mortgage lender booked an impairment charge of Dh221.8m on its Islamic financing and investment assets. Income from the segment also fell to Dh616m in comparison with Dh760.58m earned in the year-before period. Loss of advances for investment properties grew to Dh81.98m from Dh68.2m in 2009. The United Arab Emirates government said in November 2008 it intended to merge Amlak with rival Islamic mortgage lender Tamweel. Shares in the two have not traded since. Emaar Properties said earlier this month that it received Dh214.4m from Amlak as part repayment of its loan.

Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes in March: Steering through the turmoil -

With much of the Arab world undergoing transformational social and political changes in 2011, the UAE emirate of Dubai and its economy appear to be beneficiaries of the perception that the sheikdom is one of the most secure and stable markets in the region.

For the month ended March 29, the Dow Jones DFM Titans 10 Index, which measures the performance of the ten largest Shari’ah-compliant stocks listed on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), has posted the largest gain (11.60%) within the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index (DJIM) family.

The United Arab Emirates has not experienced any civil unrest, and Dubai - known as a hub for trade, banking and tourism - seems to have been rewarded by investors for its stability. Dr. Nasser Saïdi, Chief Economist of the Dubai International Financial Centre, noted that, with the largest free port in the region, Dubai has reaped the benefits of expanded manufacturing production from countries such as China.

Dubai Sukuk, Abu Dhabi TDIC Spread Narrows to Lowest Since 2009 - Bloomberg

The extra yield investors demand to hold Dubai’s 6.396 percent dollar Islamic bond over Abu Dhabi state-owned Tourism Development & Investment Co.’s 4.949 percent sukuk traded near a 16-month low after Dubai World signed a final accord to restructure its debt.

The spread narrowed 35 basis points to 213.3 after state- owned Dubai World signed the deal with creditors March 23, the data show. On March 29, the gap was 208 basis points, or 2.08 percentage points, the smallest since November 2009, when the company announced it would seek a "standstill" accord on its debt payments.

“The Dubai World debt deal has ebbed fears that Dubai may default on its repayments and has brought much needed comfort to the emirate’s market,” Louis Najem, a fixed-income sales trader in Dubai at Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd., said by telephone today. “Since Dubai names usually yield the highest, the emirate’s sukuk has seen the highest demand from clients that are looking to re-enter the market following the sell-off earlier this year.”

Time to tighten? Turkey’s red hot GDP | beyondbrics –

How much longer can the Turkish central bank stick with its outlandish monetary policies? Not much longer, surely, if Thursday’s red hot GDP figures are followed by further evidence of economic overheating.

Turkey’s economy boomed in the last quarter of 2010, with year on year growth of 9.2 per cent, outstripping forecasts and fuelling fears that the central bank will have to take tougher measures to cool inflationary pressures. Gross domestic product grew 8.9 per cent over the year as a whole, making Turkey one of the world’s fastest growing economies in 2010.

Turkey’s expansion was driven largely by private sector consumption and investment.

Emaar denies report of plans to split Indian assets - Maktoob News

Emaar Properties, UAE's largest developer by market value, denied a media report that the company is valuing its Indian joint venture's assets in preparation for an exit or partial sale.

The Mint, an Indian newspaper, quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying that the developer has asked consultants and investment bankers to value Emaar MGF Land Ltd's assets and is reviewing its assets in India.

Mint said the parent company Emaar, headquartered in Dubai, has appointed Standard Chartered Bank in India to put a value on its holdings, and oversee the entire process, which may take three-six months to conclude.

Bahrain battles to save business-friendly face - Maktoob News

Harsh economic reality has hit Bahrain's business psyche after martial law was imposed and popular unrest which has left many dead and many missing in the island kingdom, once known for openness and financial stability.

Self-branded "Business Friendly Bahrain" is fighting to save its reputation as a secure and liberal Gulf financial centre. That's a tough sell after a fierce army crackdown two weeks ago quashed weeks of pro-democracy protests led by the Shi'ite majority in the tiny Sunni-ruled state.

"We'd never seen armies in the streets. Now you get up in the morning and drive out to see tanks, your car gets inspected by men wearing masks. It's like a war zone," said one expatriate Arab banker, who asked not to be named.

Emaar seeks valuation of India assets -

Emaar Properties PJSC, Dubai’s largest real estate firm, has asked consultants and investment bankers to value Indian joint venture (JV) Emaar MGF Land Ltd’s land bank and other assets in the country.

The move may be preparatory to the builder of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, exiting the bulk of its portfolio in India, two people familiar with the development said.

Emaar Properties is reviewing its assets in India and is in talks with investment bankers, said a third person directly involved with the negotiations. “We are having discussions with them,” said this person, adding that no final decision had been taken.

Credit Suisse raises Egyptian equities to neutral | Reuters

Credit Suisse raised its rating on Egyptian equities to "neutral" from "underweight," but cautioned that a myriad of political and economic uncertainties continue to persist.

The brokerage said a successful referendum on constitutional change, and the re-opening of the stock market has improved its outlook on Egyptian equities.

However, the brokerage does not believe current valuations are attractive relative to emerging market peers.

Kuwait Projects sees profit growth in 2011 on acquisitions -

Kuwait Projects Co, the country’s biggest privately owned investment firm, expects profit to grow this year as the company seeks acquisition opportunities.

"We feel from the first quarter’s sign that there will be a growth in profit this year compared with last year," vice chairman Faisal Al Ayyar told shareholders Wednesday in Kuwait City.

"We believe acquisitions will contribute more to our profit this year than the exiting of investments." He didn’t provide more details on profit growth.

Brent heads for biggest qtrly gain in almost 2 years - Maktoob News

Brent crude rose over $1 on Thursday to $116.35 a barrel, heading for its biggest quarterly gain in almost 2 years, as Middle East supply worries led concerns.

Traders, analysts and investors see a new floor for prices around $100 a barrel, supported by supply risks and expanding economies after the most turbulent and volatile quarter for the oil market since the end of 2008.

Brent crude for May advanced 65 cents on Thursday to $115.78 barrel at 0941 GMT, less than $4 from a 2-1/2-year high near $120 on February 24. Brent fell below $108 in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake.

Swiss miss out as Arab capital flies to London - Maktoob News

London is gaining in the battle for rich Middle Eastern families seeking shelter from political unrest at home, as its private banks and top end property sector tempt them away from Switzerland.

Money is moving out of the Middle East and a larger share is heading to London, wealth managers in both countries say, mostly speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of discussing their clients.

"It is true, the larger families are avoiding Switzerland," said a Geneva-based asset manager with clients in the region.

MENA stock markets midday GMT+4 - March 31, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
QE (Qatar Exchange)
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)

Topaz Energy pulls US$500 million London listing -

Oman's Renaissance Services has pulled the planned US$500 million initial public offering of its oilfield services unit Topaz on valuation concerns and growing regional unrest, a source familiar with the matter said.

The order books for Topaz Energy and Marine, which was set for a London listing, was not fully covered by institutional investors, a banking source close to the deal told Reuters on Thursday.

The company may come back with the offering later, but has not given a timeframe, he said.

Saudi Arabia's Credit-Default Swaps Join World’s Most Traded, DTCC Reports - Bloomberg

Trading of credit-default swaps linked to Saudi Arabia is increasing, boosting the nation to the ranks of the world’s most active contracts for the first time, according to the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.

Saudi Arabia was the 93rd most traded entity last week, when 65 contracts changed hands, after previously being outside of the top 1,000 tracked by DTCC. A total of 215 contracts on the kingdom are outstanding, covering a net notional value of $511 million, DTCC data show.

Trading is increasing even though Saudi Arabia has no international debt, as investors seek to protect against the risk of political turmoil in the world’s biggest oil supplier. Swaps are being used to speculate on contagion from upheavals in neighboring countries, as a proxy for government-controlled companies such as petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp., and to hedge debt the nation may sell in future.

UAE's Essdar sells Blue City notes to Oman fund - Maktoob News

Essdar Capital, an Abu Dhabi-backed firm, sold its bond investments in the troubled Blue City project to an Oman government-controlled fund, capping the completion of a rare distressed-debt deal in the Gulf.

In a statement on Wednesday, Essdar, 35-percent owned by the ruler of Dubai's investment company, Dubai Holding , said it sold 100 percent of its holdings of Blue City's Class A notes to an undisclosed party.

The company did not disclose a value for the deal.

Kuwait to Halt Trading in 64 Stocks If They Don’t Submit Results - Bloomberg

The Kuwaiti bourse plans to suspend trading in 64 companies as of April 3 if they fail to submit full-year results by then.

Investment Dar Co., Aref Investment Group, National Industries Group Holding (NIND) are among the companies risking suspension, according to a statement posted today on the bourse’s website.

Investment Dar, owner of half of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., has been barred from trading since April 1 for failing to release its 2008 results before the deadline.

gulfnews : In Theory: Building a case for Gulf confederation

One of the key recommendations made in the 16th conference of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) was to turn the Gulf Cooperation Council into a confederation similar to the European Union.

Forming a confederation would allow the GCC to better face economic, political, cultural, and security related challenges, but time does not work in favour of the slow steps taken by the GCC's march towards integration and cooperation.

Unlike recommendations made by many Arab summits, this recommendation was not left unattended. A roadmap has been drawn up to achieve this goal, which has now become a necessity that suits the economic, political and security developments in the Arab world in particular, and the world in general.

Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority calls out 700 state-owned firms - The National

Companies owned by the Abu Dhabi Government need to issue more timely financial statements, use better data for calculating their valuations and improve the quality of audits, an oversight agency says.

The Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (ADAA), an agency set up in December 2008 to audit the Government, investigate corruption and set up anti-fraud programmes, said in its annual report yesterday it had to issue 700 recommendations to companies to improve the quality of their audits and data.

Of the comments, 142 were marked "significant improvement required" and needed immediate rectification by the companies or entities involved, an more than double the number from last year.

Oil Heads for Third Quarterly Gain as Libya Disruptions Counter U.S. Glut - Bloomberg

Oil rose, heading for a third quarterly gain in New York, as concern the Libyan conflict will prolong production cuts countered signs of rising supplies in the U.S., the world’s largest crude consumer.

Prices advanced as much as 0.5 percent today after troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi forced rebels to retreat as the U.S. and U.K. said they would consider arming opposition forces. Crude stockpiles climbed to a record last week at the delivery point for U.S. futures and fuel consumption fell, according to an Energy Department report yesterday.

“Investors are torn between the inventory levels in the U.S. and event risk in the Middle East,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director of Commodity Broking Services Pty in Sydney. “Inventory levels are continuing to build and demand continues to fall, which suggest to me that the market has ample supply.” - Qatar warms to Centrica

SPECULATORS warmed to Centrica yesterday on suggestions the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar could buy into the British Gas owner.

The Qatar Investment Authority, which has bought large chunks of UK companies such as Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange, is tipped to take a stake in the energy giant to build on the recent £2billion liquefied natural gas deal between Centrica, up 8p to 330fp, and Qatargas.

Broker Investec said: “The strategic alliance is likely to be expanded, and it would not surprise us to see a direct investment in Centrica from the Qatari Investment Authority or a similar body.” Dealers were more sceptical of another tale doing the rounds, that Centrica could be on the radar of Iberdrola, the Spanish owner of ScottishPower.

Federal lawsuit in Los Angeles claims former Mideast bank chief from Calif. staged $10B fraud - The Washington Post

A Saudi Arabian company is suing the former chief executive of a collapsed Mideast bank for $9.2 billion, alleging he helped stage one of the largest global fraud schemes in history.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court Monday accuses Southern California resident Glenn Stewart of fraudulently obtaining loans while he was CEO of The International Banking Corp. TIBC was the fourth-largest bank in Bahrain until it failed in 2009.

The lawsuit was filed by Ahmed Hamad Algosaibi & Bros., a firm run by a wealthy and influential Saudi family.

Bahrain Losing Its Edge as Finance Hub -

The protests in Bahrain, and their brutal repression, have raised major questions over its future as a regional financial hub, analysts say, with banks acting to relocate employees and capital to elsewhere in the region in case conditions worsen despite the declaration of a three-month state of emergency.

Men walked near the Bahrain Financial Harbor in the captial, Manama. The recent unrest has forced banks to relocate some employees, calling into question the country's status as a regional financial hub.
“Bahrain has suffered irreparable damage to its reputation as a financial hub, one that will take a long time to repair,” said Ayesha Sabavala, a Middle East economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, based in London. “Before this, its position was already challenged by business centers in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi anyway.”

Now, she said, the protests and unrest have persuaded banks to start transferring assets and employees to places perceived as safer. - Arab unrest takes toll on foreign investment

The Middle East may be blessed with many of the world’s hydrocarbon resources, and as a result many of its countries are significant exporters of capital, but foreign investment remains vital to most economies in the region.

The oil-importing north African and Levantine states need investment to fuel economic growth and ease chronic unemployment, particularly among the young. The oil-rich Gulf states have also targeted foreign direct investment, but primarily to diversify their economies away from hydrocarbons and to create more private-sector jobs.

However, analysts say the continuing unrest across the Arab world is likely to depress regional FDI as international companies cancel or delay investments and projects until the political outlook becomes clearer. - Egypt bourse set for fragile recovery

Egypt’s revolution was relatively bloodless, and judging by its stock market’s performance since it reopened last week, the financial impact may well be less than feared by many analysts.

After dropping the maximum allowed by emergency circuit-breakers minutes after reopening on March 23, the Egyptian bourse quickly found its feet and has gained a remarkable 10 per cent this week.

It is now down 23 per cent from the start of the year – a moderate fall given the scale and breadth of events in the country, and the clumsily handled closure. - Qatar set to reap benefits from Libya mission

Qatar’s high-profile diplomacy usually solicits a mixture of annoyance and envy in the Arab world, where neighbours assume Doha is stealing the limelight to further its own prestige and undermine theirs.

These days, however, the willingness of the small Gulf state, population 1.6m, to take the lead on the Libya crisis, almost single-handedly providing the Arab cover for an international military intervention in the Arab world, is met with relief.

The most senior Arab official at this week’s London conference on Libya’s future was Hamad bin Jassem, the prime minister of Qatar. The only Arab state to have recognised Libya’s opposition national council in Benghazi and to have sent aircraft – though only four jets – to police the no-fly zone is Qatar. It is also the government that will soon be helping sell oil from eastern Libya.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Qatar struggling to sell oil for Libyan rebels - World news - Africa -

More Emirates NBD provisions target=

Emirates NBD is eyeing merger opportunities within the region and the lender will set aside more money to cover bad loans in 2011 amid debt restructuring, its top executive said on Wednesday.

ENBD, Dubai's largest bank by market value, reported sharply higher fourth-quarter profit last month but impairments on non-performing, or bad loans and on investments hit its yearly results.

"There will be further restructurings going on, there will be further provisions, the content of that I cannot say. We are not out of the provision phase yet," Chief Executive Rick Pudner told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

MENA stock markets close - March 30, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
QE (Qatar Exchange)
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)