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Monday, 5 December 2011

Washington presses UAE over Iran trade -

The US is embarking on a diplomatic push to isolate Iran’s financial infrastructure further and reinforce new sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic. In doing so, it is trying to co-opt institutions in the United Arab Emirates, a close ally.

Last month, the US and UK applied stronger sanctions on the Islamic Republic to try to slow its nuclear programme. Then this week, the European Union expanded a blacklist of Iranian companies and individuals and threatened more sanctions targeting Iran’s financial and oil sectors.

The US Senate has also passed measures aimed at the Iranian central bank, which receives the country’s oil export revenues, though the House of Representatives and President Barack Obama – who is believed to be sceptical – have yet to approve the measure. The threat of these new sanctions prompted one Iranian official to warn that their implementation could push crude prices to $250 a barrel.

Abu Dhabi Shares Drop on Speculation Gain Overdone - Bloomberg

Shares in the United Arab Emirates declined, sending Abu Dhabi’s gauge (KWSEIDX) down the most in more than a week, amid speculation a four-day gain spurred by an increase in wages for the nation’s government employees was overdone.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the U.A.E.’s biggest phone company, decreased as much as 1.1 percent. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC (ADIB), the Persian Gulf nation’s second-biggest Shariah-compliant bank, decreased the most since July 25. The ADX General Index (ADSMI) fell 0.1 percent, the most since Nov. 24, to 2,470.52 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The measure advanced 2.4 percent in the four days through yesterday. Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) slipped 0.4 percent.

“Markets in the U.A.E. are taking a breather after consecutive days of good performance,” said Samer Darwiche, an analyst at Gulfmena Investments in Dubai. “Markets should find support at these levels after the emergence of more positive catalysts for the U.A.E., including the draft law on foreign ownership.”

Saudi Arabia says it discovers gas but will not immediately exploit - The Economic Times

Saudi Arabia has discovered commercially viable quantities of natural gas in the Red Sea and Empty Quarter, but has no plans to immediately start production, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in a speech delivered on his behalf on Monday.

The world's top oil exporter will continue to explore the country for tight gas and heavy oil for future energy needs, according to the speech read by Naimi advisor Ibrahim Muhanna in Riyadh.

"Although we continue to explore the kingdom's oil and gas potential resources, this does not mean we will immediately start production from the newly discovered fields, rather it only means determining resources available in the kingdom for future use when needed," Muhanna read.

MENA stock markets close - December 5, 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)

Saudi’s EXtra set for share sale in gloomy IPO market - Markets -

Saudi Arabia is set for its worst IPO year since 2004 after political unrest and the global economic slowdown crimped companies’ expansion plans.

Today’s sale by United Electronics Co won’t change that.

The share sale by the electronics retailer, also known as eXtra, is the fourth this year after Saudi Integrated Telecom Co, United Wire Factories Co and Hail Cement Co. raised a combined $312m. Companies in Saudi Arabia sold shares valued at $655m last year compared with $9.6bn in 2008.

Dubai developer Nakheel reports H1 profit | Alrroya

Nakheel, the Dubai-owned developer whose extravagant projects spurred the emirate's debt crisis, reported a first-half net profit on Monday, as it handed over projects stalled in the aftermath of the property bust.

Nakheel, which built man-made islands shaped like palms and a map of the world, said it had profit of Dh526 million ($143.2m) in the six months to June. It gave no comparison for 2010.

The developer's chairman said in September that Nakheel earned Dh860m in profits in 2010.

Oil pipeline bypassing Hormuz almost done: UAE

Mohammed bin Dhaen Al Hamili, Minister of Energy, has stressed UAE’s commitment to maintain and strengthen its role as a major oil and gas producer, highlighting that oil will continue playing a prominent role in the global energy for many decades to come.

Addressing a meeting held today in Doha in the framework of the World Petroleum Congress, “Our commitment to widening diversification of our domestic energy and promotion of the renewable energy, does not mean we neglect the oil industry.”

He also noted that despite expectations that the contribution of oil share will fall from 34 per cent to 28 per cent, the demand will continue to reach over 109 million barrels per day in 2035.

Abu Dhabi's TAQA eyes at least $1bln from bond sale | Reuters

State-run Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) aims to raise at least $1 billion from a two-tranche bond sale pricing on Monday, lead arrangers said, to help refinance debt maturing next year.

TAQA, which is 75 percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, last month said it would buy back a $1.5 billion bond maturing October 2012 and enlisted four banks to sell new debt.

Guidance for the long five-year tranche maturing 2017 is set at 350 basis points over 5-year U.S. Treasuries and 412.5 bps over 10-year Treasuries for the portion maturing 2021.

Saudi banks’ problem loans seen falling: Moody’s

Ratings agency Moody’s said the outlook for Saudi Arabia’s banking system in 2012 is stable due in part to high capital ratios and an expected decline in problem loan levels which will help boost profitability.

Banks in the world’s top oil exporter are also set to benefit from strong economic growth and more liquidity underpinned by government spending, it said in a report on Monday.

Increasing state reliance on high oil revenue and a lack of corporate transparency pose risks over the longer term.

Dubai banks bad loan provisions to peak by 2013 - Banking & Finance -

Dubai banks’ provisions to cover bad loans may surge to a record in the next two years as debt restructurings continue and a slowing global economy prevents a recovery of the emirate’s property market.

Non-performing loans will peak at 15 percent to 16 percent in 2013, up from 4.8 percent in 2009 and 11.3 percent in 2010, investment bank Exotix said Dec 4.

Moody’s Investors Service expects provisions to peak at 13 percent to 16 percent next year, it said in a report Nov 3. Rasmala Investment Bank said yesterday it expects bad loans to reach a high in 2012.

Abu Dhabi capital spending remains high in 2010 - Emirates 24/7

Abu Dhabi maintained high capital spending in 2010 as part of massive fiscal expansion measures taken by the oil-rich emirate to mitigate the effects of the 2008 global fiscal distress and slackening bank lending.

Official data showed capital expenditure was as high as 38.3 per cent of total public spending in 2010, slightly lower than the previous year’s 39.2 per cent but much higher than the 35.7 per cent recorded in 2008.

Analysts believe the size of capital spending last year was higher than in 2009 on the grounds total expenditure was boosted by at least 10 per cent, Current spending, comprising salaries and government purchases, accounted for nearly 61.7 per cent of total expenditure in 2010 compared with 60.8 per cent in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) said.

Arab uprisings are a chance for a just economic order - The National

The world has been transfixed in admiration at the courage of the women and men who have taken to the streets across the Arab region over the past year. In some countries popular upheaval is yielding far-reaching political and societal change, while in others the transition will be more gradual. But change - with its attendant opportunities and challenges - is certainly underway.

As the world grapples with the continuing effects of the financial and debt crises, many Arab countries are confronting their own historic challenges: a skewed economic growth model that has entrenched patterns of exclusion, discrimination and inequality with limited integration into the global economy; the false trade-off between socio-economic and political rights; and a deep-seated crisis of governance and accountability.

Moreover, the current volatility in the region and crisis-induced recessions are compounding economic hardship while diminishing the fiscal capacity of governments to meet demands by citizens for more and better social services, decent and productive employment and social protection.

Abu Dhabi property market has a model - The National

Construction delays, abandoned projects, lost revenues and variable quality. Dubai's property market is only recently emerging from the troubles of the last few years. And it is a cautionary tale for the property market in Abu Dhabi as it begins to mature.

As The National reported yesterday, property buyers in Abu Dhabi are starting to experience many of the same issues that have affected Dubai's market, with dozens filing lawsuits against developers over stalled or cancelled projects. Others complain that the costs, such as service charges, utility bills and maintenance fees, have skyrocketed since the contracts were signed.

"You would have thought Abu Dhabi would have learnt from the mistakes Dubai made," said Paul Preston, the managing director of Elysian Real Estate. "But that doesn't seem to be the case."

gulfnews : Region's aviation growth to top 10%

As air travel grows steadily in the Middle East and aircraft orders by Gulf carriers surge, the region's commercial aviation sector is set for annual growth of 10 per cent for years to come, according to a new study.

In its combined analysis of Middle East and India aviation markets, Official Airline Guide (OAG) — the UK-based aviation research firm providing global aviation intelligence data — reveals that the Middle East, along with India, will account for 11 per cent of the world's aircraft deliveries over the next decade.

Tthis growth in the two markets will be supported by a steady increase in inbound tourism, massive airport development and investor confidence in this sector, with India set to grow annually at 9 per cent over the next several years.

gulfnews : Short-selling in markets likely from next year

Capital markets regulator the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is expected to allow short-selling on UAE markets next year, the Dubai Financial Market's Chief Executive Officer Eisa Kazim said yesterday.

"SCA has posted a consultation paper. It would be introducing rules governing short-selling, stock lending and borrowing," Kazim told reporters on the sidelines of the Arab Federation of Exchanges Annual Conference in Abu Dhabi.

"I expect allowing short-selling would help improve liquidity in the markets," Kazim added.

Stocks rally on upgrade hopes - The National

Shares surged yesterday after stock market officials expressed confidence that the country would be upgraded to emerging market status this month.

MSCI, a stock index company, delayed a decision on upgrading the UAE and Qatar in June to monitor progress on areas such as opening up to foreign ownership and upgrading payment systems.

"I'm confident as we have fulfilled all the requirements," Ibrahim Al Zaabi, the deputy chief executive at the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), said yesterday. "We are encouraging companies to open up the limit for foreigners, but it will take time to integrate."

Syrian economy faces implosion - The National

Sanctions on Syria from the Arab League, the EU and the US threaten to cripple a domestic economy Bashar Al Assad's government had ushered into growth over the past six years as the country positioned itself as increasingly open to foreign investment.

Activity in sectors including finance, energy, tourism and construction has ground to a virtual halt since unrest erupted in March. Analysts say the path of liberalisation and open trade Syria pursued has only made its US$59 billion (Dh216.71bn) economy more vulnerable to sanctions.

"Syria can absorb a certain amount of economic sanctions, for a limited period," said Ghanem Nuseibeh, a partner at Cornerstone Global Associates and a senior analyst with Political Capital.

Shuaa Capital announces job cuts and closes retail brokerage - The National

Shuaa Capital has cut a tenth of its workforce and replaced its finance director as the investment bank's cost-cutting plan begins.

The Dubai investment bank said it would lay off 29 of its 312-strong workforce as it closes its retail brokerage to focus on big institutional clients.

"Shuaa is determined to manage the process in a controlled manner and reduce business disruption as much as possible," the company said.

UAE cabinet approves draft law allowing majority foreign ownership -

The United Arab Emirates cabinet has approved a draft companies law that may allow foreign ownership above 49%, state news agency WAM reported on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to attract more investment to help diversify its economy.

The law allows the cabinet to specify the types of businesses and sectors where a foreign partner may hold more than 49 percent of a company's capital, WAM said.

Currently, there is a maximum 49 percent ownership limit for listed companies, and foreigners need a UAE national or partner to conduct business, although full foreign ownership is permitted in "free zones."

AFP: Qatar, Shell agree to build $6.4 billion petrochem plant

State-owned Qatar Petroleum and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed Sunday a heads of agreement to build a petrochemical complex in the energy-rich Gulf state valued at $6.4 billion.

Qatari energy minister Mohammed al-Sada and Peter Voser, chief executive officer of Shell signed in Doha the agreement that "sets the scope and commercial principles for the development of a world-scale petrochemicals complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City," a joint statement said.

This agreement follows the conclusion of a joint feasibility study conducted by the two sides, it said, pointing out that Qatar Petroleum will hold an 80 percent equity interest in the project and Shell 20 percent.

Kuwait equities slip as investors look for clue » Kuwait Times Website

Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) closed in red zone once again during yesterday's session as the positive political developments in the country had only a short-lived impact on investor-sentiment. Local bourse went back to the same situation with no catalysts to inspire investors and portfolios. Banking sector pulled major indices to end the session in negative territory.

Global General Index (GGI) ended the day down by 0.52 percent, at 181.51 point. Market Capitalization was down for the day, reaching KD29.69bn. On the other hand, KSE Price Index closed at 5,829.3 point, shedding 5.9 points (0.1 percent) to its previous close.

gulfnews : HSBC Amanah set to tap huge opportunities in the Middle East

HSBC Amanah provides a full range of Islamic financial services to the retail, corporate and institutional customers in the Middle East, Asia and the UK.

It has a team of dedicated Islamic banking professionals in most major financial centres such as New York, London, Riyadh, Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. With the size of the Muslim population expected to reach 2.2 billion by 2030, or 26 per cent of the world population, HSBC Amanah expects huge growth in their target markets.

In a recent interview with Gulf News, Razi Fakih, Deputy CEO of Global HSBC Amanah, said that about 80 per cent of the world's Muslims live in Asia and the Middle East. Given that these regions are set to grow faster than the world average, Islamic finance is thus likely to continue growing faster than conventional banking.

Going nuclear on oil - Zawya

The latest round of conflict between Iran and the trio of Western powers, Israel and Gulf allies once again brings to the fore the fragility of oil markets.

Even a few weeks ago, rumours of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities were confined to neo-conservative think tanks, and fringe right movements, but now the discourse has entered the mainstream and oil markets.

Influential and powerful financial institutions such as PIMCO and JP Morgan have both weighed in recent days on the repercussions of a continued showdown with Iran.