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Monday, 12 December 2011

Oman to Offer Rights at Oil, Gas Blocks in First Quarter - Businessweek

Oman will accept bids for licenses to explore for oil and natural gas at five onshore areas during the first quarter of 2012 as the country seeks to meet rising energy demand, an adviser to the oil and gas ministry said.

The ministry expects to announce the awards two months after the bidding, Khalifa bin Mubarak al-Hinai said at a conference in the Omani capital Muscat.

“There’s quite a bit of interest from companies who are coming in to view the data,” he told reporters today.

MENA stock markets close - December 12, 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)

Dubai Shares Retreat Most in Week on Europe Debt Concern; Emaar Declines - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index dropped the most in almost a week, leading a decline in Persian Gulf shares, as oil fell and European stocks retreated amid concern about the region’s debt crisis.

Emaar Properties PJSC, (EMAAR) builder of the world’s tallest skyscraper, lost 2.8 percent. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker known as Sabic, fell the most in three weeks. Dubai’s DFM General Index dropped 0.6 percent, the most since Dec. 6, to 1,388.19 at the 2 p.m. close. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) retreated 0.2 percent while the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) weakened 0.3 percent.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.6 percent as Moody’s Investors Service said it will review the credit ratings of countries in the region following last week’s debt summit. The yield on Italy’s two-year note climbed 29 basis points after the government 7 billion euros ($9.3 billion) in one-year bills after Dubai’s market closed. France plans to raise 6.5 billion euros in short-term debt.

Iraq makes strides but debt mountain remains -

As some of the last convoys of US troops began their long journey home last week, one measure of what has been achieved in Iraq was becoming apparent.

In Baghdad, the Iraqi cabinet approved budgeted spending of $100bn for next year on the basis of oil exports of 2.6m barrels a day, up from 2.2m b/d this year. The budget, which has yet to be approved by parliament, is based on an oil price assumption of $85 a barrel.

In regard to Iraq, international attention has tended to focus on lingering security concerns but, eight years on from the US-led invasion, growing oil production and the ability to deploy sizeable public spending are only one of a series of economic achievements. The Central Bank of Iraq has $50bn in reserves and presides over low inflation and a relatively stable exchange rate, according to the International Monetary Fund, which administers a two-year standby agreement with Iraq.

Bahrain's biggest merger of banks | Al Bawaba

Bahrain's central bank has urged five Islamic banks to merge early next year as it seeks to strengthen the banks' capital bases, a senior official said.

Naser Mohammed Al-Belooshi, Executive Director of management services at the Bahrain Monetary Agency, the Gulf Arab state's central bank -said capital limitations would continue to seriously compromise the ability of Islamic banks to finance major international projects.

Middle East can expect 'dash for gas', Shell exec tells Oman conference - Natural Gas | Platts News Article & Story

Shell anticipates a dash for gas in the Middle East to cope with increasing energy demand and expectations that some 60 million people are due to enter its jobs market over the next ten years.

The forecast came from Mark Carne, Shell's Executive Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, addressing the Gas Arabia conference in Muscat Monday.

He was backed in this view by BP's Chief Economist Christof Ruehl, who said that on a global basis, other fuels will continue to grow over the next 20 years, but gas will grow much faster than any other. He noted that BP's current Energy Outlook to 2030 anticipates an average annual growth for natural gas consumption of 2.1%.

Saudi Arabia to issue riyal sukuk in early 2012 -sources | Reuters

Saudi Arabia is in talks with banks about issuing a riyal-denominated Islamic bond, or sukuk, five banking sources said, as the kingdom abandons its aversion to sovereign-level debt to help build a local currency yield curve.

High-level discussions are currently ongoing between the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) and a number of local and international banks with operations in the kingdom regarding the details, the sources said, with an issue expected as early as the first quarter of next year.

The sukuk will not be issued directly by the government but will instead be marketed by either a governmental agency or a state fund, three of the sources said.

UAE's Emal to invest $3.8 bln in production boost | Reuters

Emirates Aluminium (Emal), a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's Mubadala and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), plans to invest $3.8 billion for its phase two development as it ramps up production to become the single largest greenfield smelter in the world, its chief executive said.

"Phase two, which we have just started rolling will have an investment of $3.8 billion," Saeed Fadhel Mazrouei told a forum of United Arab Emirates and German businesses in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The first phase investment totalled $5.7 billion he said.

Saudi falls for 2nd day as petchems weigh; Oman rises -

Petrochemical stocks weighed as Saudi Arabia's index ended lower for a second day, although some small-cap stocks rose, with investors targeting domestically driven stocks.

The index ended 0.2 percent lower at 6,273 points, extending declines since Sunday's four-month high.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) dipped 1.8 percent, Saudi Arabian Fertilisers fell 1 percent and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical shed 0.3 percent.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Abyaar Real Estate, Aramex, Saudi Basic - Bloomberg

Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) dropped 0.6 percent, the most since Dec. 6, to 1,388.19 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The measure has dropped 15 percent this year. Kuwait’s Stock Exchange Index (KWSEIDX) decreased 0.3 percent and Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) lost 0.2 percent.

Abu Dhabi's TAQA, Marubeni, lowest bidders for Dubai IPP | Reuters

A consortium of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, Japan's Marubeni and South Korea's SK E&S Co Ltd is the lowest bidder for the estimated $1.3 billion Hassyan 1 independent power project (IPP), the first of six planned IPPs in Dubai, a Taqa spokesman said on Monday.

"The bidding took place on Monday and negotiations will start next week," the spokesman said.

TAQA (40 percent), Marubeni (40 percent) and SK E&S (20 percent) will together own 49 percent of the project company while Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) will own the remaining 51 percent, he said.

Arab States May Suffer 24% Drop in Foreign Direct Investment After Unrest - Bloomberg

Arab states have suffered a slump in foreign direct investment of as much as 24 percent this year as political unrest sweeps the region, according to the group that insures such funding against non-commercial risks.

Foreign financing will shrink to between $50 billion and $55 billion in 2011 from $66.2 billion the previous year, the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corp., known as Dhaman, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The total value of insurance operations concluded by Dhaman in the first eight months was about $780 million, “a significant increase” versus last year, indicating heightened concern, Fahad al-Ibrahim, its director-general, said in the e-mail.

» Abu Dhabi’s necessary two steps backward –

Even with a recent report that Abu Dhabi is now expecting to handle a million passengers a month, Abu Dhabi’s business landscape looks pretty shaky despite great momentum its aviation industry displays.

Recently, Kipp reported on Masdar job cuts and the rescheduling of the museum projects in the capital. But the downward movement hasn’t stopped there. Last week, Ferrari World has had to let go of 100 employees. The cuts, the company said, was merely due to a schedule change. One could deduce that the schedule change has been due to the less than expected traffic to the amusement centre.

The thing here to holds us off raising alarm bells is that Abu Dhabi still stands by the execution of its Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. It’s just that they are now more realistic about the realisation of these projects. Of course it’d be nice for this ‘recalibration’ to not have a negative knock-on effect on employees (ie losing their jobs) but in this case we are certain these decisions couldn’t be helped, right?

Industry weighs on UAE bourses - The National

Gulf bourses were dragged lower by petrochemicals companies after agreement was reached among world leaders to restrict carbon emissions following marathon climate-change talks in Durban.

The UAE's markets, which do not have a concentration of heavy industry, were buoyant - with the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) rising the most in a week.

The DFM General Index gained 0.9 per cent to 1,396.97 points, while the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index rose 0.6 per cent to 2,458.91.

Ratings of 50 MENA banks under reviewon Basel III criteria |

Standard & Poors (S&P) is reviewing credit ratings on 50 banks in the Middle East and North Africa under a new set of criteria, a move that could result in higher funding costs for lenders already hit by the euro zone crisis and the Arab Spring revolts.

The agency, which recently classified Bahrains banks as the riskiest in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), and saw a weak credit profile for UAE lenders, expects more activity in debt capital markets as bank lending struggles, a senior S&P executive said.

“We look at 25 banks in the GCC region. We also rate banks in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon so across the MENA, we look at 50 credits,” said Timucin Engin, associate director, financial institutions, at S&P, adding that he expected decisions by year-end.

» Will the UAE have what it takes for an MSCI upgrade? –

This Thursday, the UAE will be at the edge of its seat once more as Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) makes its decision on a classification review for the Emirates and for Qatar.

But there’s a possibility that the index compiler may just postpone the announcement once more as performance levels of the UAE have seen even more decline from when the review was delayed in June this year.

That’s why analysts have become a little bit more pragmatic about the impact the rating will have on the UAE’s investment prospects, as this article in Gulf News suggests. A positive rating from MSCI is, of course, good news but analysts doubt that it will boost business significantly.