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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tunisia asks UAE, Qatar to freeze Ben Ali assets | Reuters

Tunisia has asked the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to freeze the assets of ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and members of his family, the official TAP news agency said on Saturday.

A Justice Ministry source told TAP that Tunisia submitted the requests with the UAE and Qatar on May 3 and May 12 respectively. It gave no further details.

Caretaker authorities in Tunisia, in an apparent attempt to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters who forced the transition, have cracked down on vestiges of Ben Ali's long rule.

Saudi Stock Market close - May 21, 2011

General Index
Intraday 3 month
Daily Statistics
General Index6731.24
Change (%)0.67%
T. Volume224910136
T. Companies 149

Grain Prices to Wreck Middle East Economies | Crossroads Arabia

Arabs eat a lot of bread. Tunisians, for example, eat nearly three times as much bread as Americans or Canadians. It’s so important that the Egyptian dialect word for bread, rather than khubz, is aish, ‘Life.” Bread riots have been a feature of Egypt’s past and it appears they will be part of its future.

For a variety of reasons ranging from bad weather in the US and Canadian plains to higher shipping costs related to high oil prices, the cost of wheat and barley are rising rapidly, far faster than general inflation. This bodes evil to the economies of the Middle East. Oil producers like Saudi Arabia will manage this better than oil consuming states as they do have higher incomes. Even here, though, high prices for barley, used chiefly as animal fodder, are causing unrest. For countries that import the majority of their grains, it’s another blow just now descending. And for countries whose economies are in turmoil as the result of political upheavals, the blow is going to be even more severe.

Perhaps the most dismal aspect of this is that people, when pressed, will choose bread over liberty. What’s the point in demanding human rights if the most basic one—staying alive and keeping one’s family alive—is in question? This means that those who are able to supply the demand for bread are going to reap political benefits from it. Those who either impede that supply or are simply inconsequential, are going to lose.

Saudi Shares Climb for Third Day on Advancing Oil, Sabic, Savola Rise - Bloomberg

Petrochemical and agriculture companies led Saudi Arabian shares to gain for a third day, rising to a one-week high, after oil prices advanced on a report fuel consumption increased in April.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, and Savola Azizia United Co. paced the gains. National Industrialization Co. (NIC) rose to its highest price in more than three years.

The 146-member Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) gained 0.5 percent to 6,721.15, the measure’s highest intraday level since May 15, at 12:09 p.m. in Riyadh. Seven shares rose for every stock that dropped.

Sharjah Islamic Bank's Sukuk Trust Certificates Assigned 'BBB+' Preliminary Issue Rating - Zawya

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has assigned a preliminary 'BBB+' issue rating on sukuk trust certificates to be issued on May 27, 2011, by SIB Sukuk Company II Ltd., a special purpose company (SPC) with Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB; BBB+/Stable/A-2) as the obligor and managing agent.

The 'BBB+' rating on the sukuk trust certificates is based on the 'BBB+' long-term counterparty credit rating on SIB. The rating on the five-year $400 million trust certificates reflects the irrevocable undertaking to purchase the assets held by the issuer at the redemption date of the sukuk at a predefined price. This obligation of SIB pertaining to sukuk redemption will also rank pari passu with all other senior unsecured obligations of SIB. This is the key rating factor. In addition, in the event that the returns generated by the sukuk assets (and investments complementing the assets) are insufficient on any periodic distribution date to fund the periodic distribution amount due, the managing agent shall use any amounts standing to the credit of the reserve account and, if insufficient funds are available in the reserve account, the managing agent may make a Sharia-compliant liquidity facility available to SIB Sukuk Company II Ltd. (the trustee) in the amount of the shortfall.

We understand there is technically no legally-binding obligation for SIB to provide such liquidity for Sharia-compliant reasons. That said, we take comfort from the fact that SIB is irrevocably committed to buy the underlying assets at nominal price at redemption, and by the fact that not extending such a facility would trigger a default and have a dramatic impact on the bank's business.

‘Speculative trading will continue to dominate Arab stock markets’ - Arab News

Arab stock markets, except the Egyptian bourse, lost ground last week as investors sought clues to the second quarter earnings and other market moving factors, financial analysts said Friday.

A spate of profit-taking moves and speculative trading put down pressure on prices across the Middle East, as political turmoil continued to leave its negative impact on regional markets, they added.

”I believe speculative trading will continue to dominate Arab markets in the coming few weeks until investors start to get information about the semi-Annual results,” an Amman-based portfolio manager told Arab News.