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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Barclays opens Islamic window in the Dubai International Financial Centre -

Barclays Bank announced today that it has received approval to operate an Islamic Window in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), enabling it to base its global Islamic products team in the DIFC, and to offer Islamic financial products and services from there.

Well-established as a global leader in Islamic finance, Barclays has been active in promoting the Islamic banking sector for well over a decade.

This licence endorsement, granted by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), positions the global bank to further expand, its already diverse offering, in the Sharia-compliant financial services space.

Gulf states in renewed push for rail projects | Reuters

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pushing ahead with multi-billion dollar railway projects, and key contracts are set to be awarded soon as the energy-rich Gulf states seek to boost local infrastructure to meet rising demand.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is expanding its railway network by adding 300-plus kilometres of railway lines after commissioning the 1,400-km North South Minerals line earlier this year.

The new lines comprise three projects -- the Ras al Khair to Jubai, the Jubail to Dammam line and an internal Jubail network.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt's Orascom Telecom at 7-wk high, Gulf gains | Reuters

Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT) hit a seven-week high on Tuesday, extending gains for a second day since a report of a positive valuation of a unit, while most Gulf markets closed higher, tracking gains in world stocks.

OT's shares rose 6.7 percent to their highest close since Aug. 4, after an Egyptian newspaper reported that a law firm charged with assessing the value of the company's Algerian unit, Djezzy, had said it was worth $7 billion.

Mobinil , in which Orascom Telecom is a main shareholder, soared 10 percent. The main index rose 1.2 percent.

MENA stock markets close - September 20, 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)

Middle East growth to slow, says IMF -

Instability in the Middle East and North Africa along with high unemployment and rising food prices will hinder the region's growth, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

"The region faces serious policy challenges," the fund said in its most recent world economic outlook. "Beyond securing economic and social stability, shorter term challenges focus on the need to place public finances on a sustainable footing," the report said.

The IMF zeroed in on oil exporters such as Qatar, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and said their governments needed to capitalize on the high oil prices and move toward sustainable and more diversified economies.

Bahrain Raises 2011, 2012 Expenditure by $1 Billion, BNA Says - Bloomberg

Bahrain’s King Hamad approved a 388.5 million-dinar ($1.03 billion) increase in expenditure in the budget for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, the official Bahrain News Agnecy reported today.

The island state willl borrow from banks and funds to cover the deficit, according the agency, which cited a decree by the king.

Dubai Shares Advance a Second Day This Week on Bets Decline Overdone, Oil - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index advanced for a second day this week on bets a decline the past two months was overdone on prospects for earnings and after crude oil climbed.

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, rose for the first time in three days. Arabtec Holding Co. (ARTC), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest construction company by market value, gained 0.7 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) added 0.2 percent to 1,466.08 at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai, paring its loss in the past two months to 3.9 percent. About 60 million shares traded in Dubai today, compared with a 12-month daily average of 121 million shares. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) of the region’s stocks increased 0.2 percent.

“There is no liquidity and that has nothing to do with company fundamentals as we are undervalued and oversold,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief investment officer for CAPM Investment PJSC in Abu Dhabi. “The lack of volatility has helped make the downturn in local shares less steep than elsewhere, as international investors are staying away.”

Kuwait shareholder gets nod to lift Al Ahli Bank stake | Reuters

Kuwaiti shareholder Mohammad Yousuf Behbehani has received central bank's approval to raise his stake in Al Ahli Bank to 15 percent, the stock exchange said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

Behbehani currently owns a 4.9 percent stake in the lender and the approval is valid for three months, the statement said. He will be the biggest shareholder in the bank if the transaction is completed, according to bourse data.

"The Behbehani family are the main shareholders in the bank...the sale might happen through a family arrangement, or he could buy directly from the stock market," said Naser al-Nafisi, the general manager for Al Joman Center for Economic Consultancy in Kuwait.

The Sharafs Resign at The Black Iris of Jordan

This is quite an interesting story that’s been developing this week. Fares Sharaf, the now former governor of the Central Bank, handed in his resignation earlier this week after only 10 months on the job. Many are saying that his resignation of the ordinarily stable 5-year post was due to his rejection of the current state policy of fiscal appeasement. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably witnessed the out-of-control public spending the state has been pursuing in an attempt to quiet down the masses, which now amounts to tens of millions of dinars. While this spending, which to me is the equivalent of paying people off, has made some impact in the short run, it will do little if not exacerbate tensions in the long run – and in Jordan, long run is typically defined as “when the money runs out”.

…bankers and some officials say Sharaf was enraged by an appeasement policy adopted by the government to win over disgruntled public sector employees in the wake of Arab unrest that endangered the country’s financial and monetary stability.

Bankers say Sharaf, a highly respected financial expert who had senior posts in the banking and financial industry, has increasingly voiced privately his alarm at the government’s expansionary fiscal policy…Economists and bankers say Sharaf criticized a fiscal policy that saw government revenue shrinking and unable to cover rising current expenditure for security and a bloated bureaucracy whose salaries eat up most of the country’s $8.98 billion budget.

…Sharaf was worried policymakers’ efforts to resort to higher levels of domestic borrowing from banks and abroad, to finance growing social needs and the budget deficit, could derail growth and seriously jeopardize the economy’s ability to recover from sharp contraction, bankers close to him said. [source] - Iraqi factions wrangle over gas reserves

The Iraqi cabinet has signed off on a deal with Korea Gas to develop the Akkas gas field in Anbar province in the west of the country. Akkas is a prime attraction because, unlike most of Iraq’s gas, its reserves of 3,300bn cu ft are non-associated or free gas not connected to an oilfield.

The agreement, however, has not been without its complications. Iraqi government officials first said the deal would be signed in February but it fell victim to local politics, causing Kazakhstan’s state gas company to withdraw. The governor of Anbar had demanded that a portion of the Akkas gas remain in his governorate to generate power rather than be made available for export.

Kogas now has a 75 per cent stake in the Akkas venture, up from 37.5 per cent previously, while Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company holds the remaining 25 per cent share. - Chinese investors flock to Dubai

Layla*, who left Dubai for her native Egypt in 2006, was one of the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square, cheering on the end of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

But as the hope of the Arab spring wilted in the summer, she felt helpless as revolutionary optimism transformed into concerns that the military or Islamists were hijacking the youth-driven movement’s revolt for their own reactionary ends.

With her media consultancy business drying up in Egypt and Lebanon, a job offer came up in Abu Dhabi. So she moved back to Dubai, from where she makes the two-hour daily commute to the UAE’s capital. “I liked Dubai before and didn’t mind coming back at all,” she says. “It is away from all the chaos.”

Layla is one of many Arabs who are fleeing uncertain prospects at home for the more settled environment of Dubai. From unemployed graduates in Cairo to Bahrain-based bankers, Dubai’s stability and recovery provides solace from the storm.

Nomura lifts outlook for profit at DP World - The National

Any port in a storm, the old maritime saying goes.

But DP World has shown all of its global ports to be capable of weathering the heavy seas of economic uncertainty.

Since the company reported its half-year figures last month, showing a surge in net profit, several leading investment banks have upgraded their forecasts for DP World's trading and financial outlook.

Opec chief's alarm over demand hits price of oil - The National

The price of oil fell last night after the secretary general of Opec voiced concern over falling global demand, and the euro-zone debt crisis deepened.

The price of crude dropped by as much as 3 per cent in London and New York as investors speculated over the likelihood of Greece defaulting on its sovereign debt and digested a series of negative remarks by Abdalla El Badri at a meeting in Dubai.

The Opec chief warned western nations needed to do more to bolster their economies and stem unemployment or they risked jeopardising billions of dollars in oil investments.

gulfnews : Nakheel sukuk falls as holders crowd market

Nakheel's Islamic bonds, which were issued to contractors and suppliers instead of cash as part of a $16.1 billion (Dh59.1 billion) restructuring plan, fell in their first week of trading as holders flooded the market.

The real estate developer saw the yield on its sukuk soar 108 basis points since September 9, or 1.08 percentage points, to 17.08 per cent on September 16, according to prices at Standard Chartered on Bloomberg.

It was little changed yesterday. The rate on Dubai government's 6.396 per cent sukuk due November 2014 gained eight basis points last week to 4.88 per cent on Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It rose three basis points yesterday.

gulfnews : Dubai Gold Securities' trade up 230%

Trading of Dubai Gold Securities (DGS) on Nasdaq Dubai rose to 6,075 securities in August, a 230 per cent increase from 1,840 in July, and up from 636 traded in the whole of the first half of the year, Nasdaq Dubai said in a statement. The total value of DGS traded reached $1.44 million (Dh5.28 million) in the first eight months of 2011, up 66 per cent from $866,000 in the same period of 2010.

In equities trading, individual investors accounted for 6.6 per cent of the traded value of all shares traded on Nasdaq Dubai in the first eight months of 2011. Total equities traded value in the period by individual and institutional investors was $511 million.

In August 2011, individual investors accounted for 3 per cent total equities traded value on Nasdaq Dubai, the same percentage as in the previous month. Total equities traded value on the exchange in August 2011 was $73.2 million, up 174 per cent from $26.7 million in July 2011 and down 7 per cent from $78.7 million in August 2010.

gulfnews : New initiative to revive stalled Dubai realty

Dubai's stalled real estate projects could be granted a new lease of life under an initiative by the Dubai Land Department and Wasl Asset Management Group.

The agreement, signed on Monday, will see the DLD and Wasl pick on-hold projects in the emirate and offer them for sale or lease to investors in an effort to restart developments that were abandoned or stalled during the financial crisis.

Majida Ali Rashid, senior director of planning and institutional development, president of the Center for Promotion and Management of Real Estate Investment, explained that the DLD and Wasl would work together to provide attractive packages to investors.

Risk Averse Saudi Banks Underperform Gulf Peers: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian equity investors are punishing the kingdom’s banks for locking assets in low-yielding investments after recovering from the region’s biggest loan defaults.

The shares of Saudi banks have underperformed their peers in the Persian Gulf this year, with the Tadawul All-Share Bank Index tumbling 14 percent. Dubai Financial Market Bank Index gained 3.5 percent in the period and the Qatar Exchange Banking Sector Index advanced 1.5 percent.

Banks in the world’s biggest oil exporter are lending mainly to “blue-chip borrowers” and parking money with the central bank at a time when interest rates are at the lowest level since June 2009, according to Asim Bukhtiar, an analyst at Riyad Capital. “The low-rate environment is not expected to turn around in the next two quarters.”

Daimler says not in touch with Qatar over EADS | Reuters

Daimler (DAIGn.DE) has not been in touch with the Gulf state of Qatar over selling its 7.5 stake in aerospace and defence company EADS , the carmaker said on Monday.

"There have been no talks on our side," a Daimler spokesman told Reuters. "We do not have anything to do with Qatar."

A German magazine reported over the weekend that members of Qatar's government had met with German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler two weeks ago.

Qatar taking a risky path with its foreign investment plans - The Globe and Mail

Qatar risks a foreign investment pile-up. The tiny gas-rich state might have up to $100-billion (U.S.) to snap up overseas assets, based on guesses at the size of the country’s main sovereign wealth fund. Qatar’s mooted interest in a 7.5-per-cent stake in European aerospace and defence company EADS would only cost it less than $2-billion at current market prices. But it’s unclear if the country’s overseas spending is as focused as its domestic ambitions. And its taste for large high-profile assets could be dangerous.

The soon-to-be richest country in the world – on a GDP per capita basis – is able to splash its cash overseas, given the stability of its domestic politics. The Qatar Investment Authority holds an estimated $60- to $100-billion in assets. On top of that, the country reckons its foreign reserves for the year will total around $20-billion. But that pales in size in absolute terms against the sovereign funds of Abu Dhabi and China, which are each several times bigger.

Assuming estimates of the QIA’s size are about right, at least 20 per cent of Qatar’s assets are spread across a handful of purchases made over the last two years alone. Qatar has spent more than $20-billion on stakes in German car makers Porsche and Volkswagen – which have just run into trouble – Agricultural Bank of China, Santander Brasil, Spain’s Iberdrola and construction firm Hochtief. It has also thrown a lifeline to some Greek banks and snapped up Britain’s luxury department store Harrods, not to mention two European football teams.

كونا : Kuwait Capital Market Authority successfully ends first phase of transitional period - الشؤون الإقتصادية - 19/09/2011

The Board of Commissioners of Kuwait Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced Monday the successful completing the first phase of the transitional period of enforcing the provisions of Law No. 7 of 2010 of the creation of CMA to monitor and regulate capital market activities.

In a press statement, the CMA pointed out the law has called for settling brokers and investment funds situation and the transfer of regulatory tasks to the new authority, CMA, six months after the issuance of the executive statue of the law (ending September 12, 2011).

"All brokers and investment funds have applied for the settlement of their status to comply with the regulations of the new law," the statement said.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Orascom lifts Egypt; Gulf down on euro debt woes | Reuters

Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT) surged on Monday on a report of a positive valuation of a unit, helping the bourse break a six-day losing streak, while Gulf markets ended lower on concerns over the European debt.

OT ended 10 percent higher after an Egyptian newspaper said a law firm valued its Algerian unit Djezzy at $7 billion.

"We are still waiting on confirmation of the news. But if it is real then this is an extremely positive valuation," said Margo Moussa an analyst at Arab Finance Brokerage.

Nakheel's $16bn bond faces test - The National

New Islamic bonds from Nakheel will face a test today in a debt auction amid falling prices and rising yields since trading began two weeks ago.

The Dubai property giant is issuing the Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as part of a US$16 billion (Dh58.76bn) financial restructuring it began putting in place late last month.

The sukuk initially yielded about 13 to 15 per cent, well below what many observers expected. Yesterday, however, the security was yielding 16.37 per cent, according to a major bank trading the sukuk. But a bigger gauge of demand will come today when a group of banks has reportedly been invited to bid on Dh320 million worth of the sukuk.

Bahrain sets framework for $9.3 billion bond issue | Reuters

Bahrain has set up a framework to issue up to 3.5 billion dinars ($9.3 billion) in bonds, the state news agency BNA reported on Monday, after the Gulf Arab state faced ratings downgrades following civil unrest.

"The finance minister is authorised to issue in accord with Bahrain's central bank up to 3,500 million dinars in public treasury bonds ... called development bonds and Islamic sharia-compliant instrument in the kingdom or abroad," said a decree issued by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, BNA said.

Issuance can begin after the official publication of the decree, it said, without giving a time frame.