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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

UAE says U.S. targeted only one bank over Iran | Reuters

The United States has targeted only one bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Noor Islamic Bank, over its business dealings with Iran, a UAE official said on Wednesday.

Asked whether the United States had complained about other UAE banks, Khalid al-Ghaith, UAE assistant foreign minister for economic affairs, told Reuters: "They were just talking about Noor Islamic Bank."

He added, "We are still working with the U.S. government and continue discussing to protect our bank sector and companies and continue this dialogue. This is what we are doing as a government."

Saudi Arabia committed to support Egypt’s economy by $3.75 billion

Saudi Arabia is committed to support Egypt’s economy, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Tuesday. “The Kingdom is committed to offer Egypt $3.75 billion.”

Faisal pointed out that a sum of $0.5 billion has already been transferred by Saudi Arabia as a grant in support for the Egyptian budget in May 2011.

Faisal’s statements came in response to recent accusations by Egypt’s Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, who said that Egypt did not receive any financial support from the Gulf states.

UPDATE 1-Saudi Almarai mulls stake increase in PepsiCo JV - Yahoo!

Saudi Arabia's Almarai is in talks with PepsiCo Inc to increase its stake in a joint venture formed with the U.S. soft drink giant in 2009, the Gulf dairy firm said on Tuesday.
Almarai, the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value,
currently holds 48-percent in International Dairy & Juice Ltd
(IDJ), with PepsiCo owning the remaining 52-percent stake.
The IDJ joint venture was formed to target growth opportunities in the dairy and juice sector in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East, excluding the Gulf region.

UPDATE 1-RLPC-Zain Saudi eyes loan refinancing-bankers - Yahoo!

Zain Saudi Arabia , the country's third-largest mobile operator, is in talks with lenders to refinance its $2.5 billion Islamic syndicated loan that matures in July, banking sources close to the deal said.
The firm has come under pressure to restructure its capital after losses pushed it close to a limit on capital losses
imposed by the bourse.
The original Murabaha loan was secured in 2009 to back the
company's network expansion, with two tranches consisting of
$775 million and 6.46 billion Saudi riyals ($1.72 billion).

gulfnews : Oil windfall boosts Gulf spending

The windfall from oil exports in recent months may have given the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states enough cushion to enable them to carry on with their development projects and investment ventures for months in the likely event of another recession hitting the global economy, experts say.
International oil prices have surged nearly $40 (Dh146.92) a barrel in the last six months due to the West's tensions with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme and supply concerns, given the unrest in several oil exporting countries in the Middle East.
Brent crude traded a tad below $125 a barrel on Monday, and crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading at around $109 a barrel. Coming out of the global financial crisis, these price levels are considered too high for oil importing countries, some of which risk slipping back into recession largely due to the strain of high cost of crude imports. "The high oil prices have helped increase the foreign currency reserves of GCC countries and provided them a cushion against a future drop in oil prices," Mohammad Amerah, an Abu Dhabi-based economist, told Gulf News.

gulfnews : Middle East will see 15m vying for jobs in a decade

Over 15 million young people will enter the workforce over the next decade in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), presenting serious challenges for regional governments, a report has claimed.
The Rapid Growth Markets (RGMs) Forecast report by Ernst & Young, a market research company, said that Mena governments urgently need to develop the non-oil economy to meet growth.
"The average annual growth rate in the labour force in Mena over the next 10 years is expected to be around 2 per cent," Bassam Hage, Mena markets leader at Ernst & Young, said. "While a growing labour force adds to potential growth in the region, creating jobs for this next generation in Mena will be one of the most important economic developments."

gulfnews : Dubai ups ante for Expo 2020

Dubai will spend between $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) and $4 billion on infrastructure if it manages to secure the bid for the 2020 World Expo, officials said yesterday.
Having submitted the official bid to host the 2020 World Expo last November, the UAE yesterday launched the country's campaign to host the international event in Dubai.
The World Expo is a global, non-commercial exposition. The hosting of it must be applied for by a country and approved by the World Expo committee. The Expo is inteded to promote exchanges of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to display their achievements and improve international relationships.

Promising signs out of Iraq for global investors - The National

With the Iraq index up nearly a fifth on last year and the release of an oil export bottleneck on track, Iraq is looking promising for investors.

The economy is set to expand 12.6 per cent this year, according to the IMF, the fastest rate in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is this speedy growth that is catching the eye of investors, to the extent that EFG-Hermes, the biggest publicly traded Arab investment bank, has started offering an equity-swap product linked to Iraqi securities.

Exuberance catches on in UAE markets - The National

Markets in the region closed higher yesterday, led by the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), which jumped nearly 3 per cent after profit-taking the day before turned to buying.

The DFM General Index closed up 2.66 per cent at 1,698.22. The index is up 25 per cent on the year to date.

Few companies were unaffected by the rise, which analysts said was linked more to investor exuberance than to changes iin the financial positions of the firms.

Mubadala aims to make sweet music with EMI purchase - The National

The hits of Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and Pink Floyd are part of a musical treasure trove worth more than US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) being bid for by a consortium that includes Mubadala Development.

The involvement of the strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government in the bid was revealed as Sony, the Japanese entertainment giant, sought EU approval for a $2.2bn purchase of EMI Group's publishing unit, a deal that would create the world's second-biggest music catalogue.

A spokeswoman for Mubadala confirmed the company's involvement in the deal.

Oil Tankers Seen Falling 42% as Japan Weakens Most Since Tsunami: Freight - Bloomberg

The largest drop in Japanese oil consumption since last year’s earthquake and tsunami may cause tanker rates to plunge 42 percent next quarter, threatening the biggest rally in shares of shipping companies since 2005.
Demand in Japan, the second-largest destination for supertankers after China, will drop 19 percent in the second quarter from now, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. Daily rates for the 1,000-foot-long ships will average $17,000, compared with $29,280 now, the median of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show. Investors may profit by buying forward freight agreements, traded by brokers and used to bet on shipping costs, which anticipate $10,883.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi at new 41-mth high, turnover spikes; most Gulf up | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's bourse ended at a new 41-month high on Tuesday after a session of volatile trading which saw the largest turnover in more than four years, as most other regional markets also extended gains.

The kingdom's index rose 0.3 percent to 7,169 points, its highest close since September 2008.

Stocks worth 16.1 billion riyals ($4.29 billion) were traded, the highest in a session since January 2008.

Boom in credit for Saudi Arabia - The National

Private-sector credit growth in Saudi Arabia accelerated at its fastest rate in more than two and half years last month as the kingdom's banks benefit from government injections of cash into the economy.

Expansion rose 11.7 per cent compared with January last year, its fastest rate since May 2009.

Credit growth grew 1.7 per cent last month compared with December last year, according to data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. "This is reflecting liquidity in the banking system and a strong balance sheet of banks," said Khatija Haque,a senior economist at Emirates NBD.

Kuwait real estate sales strong in Jan – NBK ECONOMIC REPORT | Kuwait Times

Real estate sales activity picked up in January, totaling KD 318.1 million in value, a 64% increase year-on-year (y/y). The level was the third best level on record. All three sectors of real estate saw big increases, with the residential sector taking up 54% of total sales. The uptick in sales should persist for the year albeit perhaps with less impetus.
Residential sector sales were KD 170.3 million for January, a 40% y/y climb. A major contributor to this increase was the high number of transactions concluded, totaling 806 transactions —a 4-year peak for the sector. The majority of these transactions (71%) were for plots of land, as opposed to finished homes. Residential sales should continue to do well in the near future, as it appears backed with solid demand.

Business : UAE set to allow foreign ownership in some areas

The UAE will allow foreign ownership of companies in selected areas of the economy, as already 17- free zones operating in the country allowed 100 per cent ownership, said Abdullah Salem Al Turifi, chief executive of Stocks and Commodities Authority.
Talking to media, at his office, he denied that foreign ownership rules are obstacle, to the winning the Emerging Market status on MSCI Index from the Frontier Market status, which the nation already have attained.

“We are waiting for their review, in June, this year, as we’ve fulfilled all their (MSCI) requirements,” the chief executive said.

Empower to raise Dh500m loan - Emirates 24/7

Dubai-based district cooling firm Empower will tap local banks to raise Dh500 million ($136 million) loan for the establishment of its upcoming projects in the local market.

The company is currently negotiating a Dh500-million loan deal with banks and hopes to close it in April-May, said its Chief Executive Ahmed Bin Shafar. He, however, refused to disclose the name of the banks.

These funds will be used to set up new district cooling plants in the UAE including two in Dubai’s Business Bay area this year.

Business : Dubai Exports helps in Dh3b transactions

Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development, said on Tuesday that the total value of exports it facilitated in 2011 crossed Dh3 billion.
With exporters in Dubai continuing to penetrate new markets and diversify their product range, the export sector could perform better, Dubai Exports said.

Of the 42 export transactions facilitated by Dubai Exports during the year, 35 per cent were new deals while new exporters won 50 per cent of the deals. Companies based in Dubai were the beneficiaries of 93 per cent of the deals concluded last year, it said.

Bahrain fund boss 'quit over lack of deals' - Banking & Finance -

The head of Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund quit over differences of strategy with the board, disappointed by its lack of deal-making as it focuses on reviving loss-making domestic assets, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Talal Al Zain, the urbane former investment banker, told Reuters on Monday he would leave his job as chief executive of Mumtalakat, the $9bn sovereign fund, to set up a new investment firm in the Gulf island kingdom.
The sources said Al Zain was particularly frustrated with the board's focus on housekeeping at debt-laden national carrier Gulf Air, which Mumtalakat owns.

Tehran considers trade payments in gold -

Iran is to consider accepting gold as payment for oil and other commodities in what is seen as a fresh attempt to skirt international sanctions on the country’s nuclear programme and ease their impact on Iranian businesses and consumers.
“In addition to [the US] dollar and currencies of the trading countries, Iran could take gold in its commercial transactions with other countries,” Mahmoud Bahmani, Iran’s central bank governor, told domestic Iranian news agencies.

Dubai: thinking big again | beyondbrics –

If there is silver lining to Dubai’s grand building dreams – which left the city-state with a debt mountain of $110bn when property prices crashed – it’s that it now has the region’s best infrastructure: gleaming airports, a brand-new metro and lavish hotels.

As the Gulf emirate rebounds from the slump, it is hoping these facilities will enhance its status as a commercial entrepot. In particular, it wants to persuade the world that it is the ideal location to host the World Expo in 2020, the five-yearly exposition of national pavilions, where states outline their vision for national development.

Competitors include Ayutthaya, Thailand; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

MENA stock markets close - February 28, 2012

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)

Saudis Tighten Anti-Money Laundering Laws | Crossroads Arabia

Another of those frustrating articles from the Saudi media. Arab News reports that the Shoura Council has approved a new anti-money laundering bill, but gives very little detail about what it covers. Until 2003, the Kingdom had no formal anti-money laundering laws; Shariah law could be used in some instances to halt it, but coverage was less than spotty. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the involvement of Saudi nationals in it changed things a bit. Both internal and external pressures put on the Kingdom led it to introduce more specific rules, but starting from zero has meant both a lengthy process and a steep learning curve.

Saudis Continue Economic Diversification | Crossroads Arabia

Saudi Arabia is continuing to expand its economy through diversification. Saudi Gazette runs a release from the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) noting that all concerned ministries and corporate entities are lined up to support the development of a new ‘Mining City’ in the north of the country. A report from the Delegation for German Industry in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (AHK) notes that SR26 billion (US $7.7 billion) is being made. The city, near the Saudi border with Jordan, will produce phosphates and derivative products and ship them by rail to Ras Al-Khair Port in the Eastern Province. When operating, the City is expected to bring in SR15 billion (US $4 billion) annually.

There are a lot of jobs involved in creating, populating, and operating such a massive endeavor. Let’s hope that most of the jobs go to Saudis and not just manual laborers brought in from third world countries.

Are the local markets out of the woods? - Business Intelligence Middle East - - News, analysis, reports

Al Ramz Securities, one of the UAE’s leading brokerage houses and fully licensed by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) to conduct financial advisory and analyses, has prepared brief report on the uptrend observed in the Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI).

Results affirm signs of a medium-term rally, although Al Ramz recommends vigilance as the local markets are not yet ‘out of the woods.’ The details are as follows

COLUMN-Oil's rise puts sanctions under spotlight: John Kemp | Reuters

U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran's crude oil exports and its central bank were not supposed to affect either the volume of oil available or its price, provided markets reacted "rationally".

That was the conclusion of an influential report on the "Oil Market Impact of Sanctions Against the Central Bank of Iran", circulated by sanctions advocates at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.

The idea that sanctions could reduce Iran's oil revenues without boosting prices for oil-consuming countries was crucial to persuading policymakers in the United States and Europe to impose far-reaching restrictions on Iran's oil sector.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai hits 15-mnth high; breaks resistance level - Yahoo!

Dubai's index breaks a strong resistance level
and ends at a 15-month high as retail investor-driven buying
continues amid a bullish market trend.
The index rises 2.7 percent to 1,698 points, its highest
close since December 2010. Its year-to-date gains stand at 25.5
percent, having initially slumped to a seven and half-year low
in January.
"I've been surprised by the strength of the rally in Dubai
and that it just keeps going with little hesitation," says Bruce
Powers, head of research and analysis at Trust Securities.
"Dubai's general index today breached the previous swing
high of 1,691 points, which is bullish for the medium-term.
Short-term though it's hard to ignore how overbought the market
is. This momentum cannot go on forever."

UAE eyes new rules on markets, funds by mid-2012 - Yahoo!

New rules in the United Arab Emirates on mutual funds, short-selling, and rights issues may be finalised by mid-2012 as part of measures to strengthen the operation of exchanges and attract overseas investors, the regulator said on Tuesday.
Last year, the UAE postponed draft regulations on its nascent asset management industry, which were seen as a key step for investor protection and boosting market confidence, after market players voiced concerned that some of the proposals lacked clarity, sources said.
Abdullah al-Turifi, CEO of the Securities & Commodities Authority (SCA), told reporters on Tuesday that the body was finalising regulations which could be issued by mid-year.
"These new regulations and mechanisms, products and services for the markets will complete the regulatory framework for the system," he said, adding the rules also covered market makers.
Mutual funds, earlier regulated by the central bank, are now under the ambit of the SCA. The regulator licensed three
mutual funds last year and plans to promote foreign mutual
funds, Turifi said.

2012: The year of debt restructuring Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Over the next 12 months, expect unsettling developments. The global crisis is still ?unfolding, and it could escalate

Weakening growth, rising systemic risks, and contagion-prone markets are likely to enhance economic and financial fragility. We are entering a perilous new phase.

First, growth will remain below potential, hindered by excessive debt. Since 2000, the debt globally held by governments, corporations, and households doubled to 63 per cent of global output, fuelling international growth. To avoid a structural deceleration of global activity, the balance is now due.

Qatar to Sign LNG-Supply Agreement With Pakistan, The News Says - Bloomberg

Qatar agreed to supply 3.5 million metric tons a year of liquefied natural gas to Pakistan, The News reported, citing Asim Hussain, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister.
Qatar Liquefied Gas Co. wants a 15-year contract to supply LNG, while Pakistan seeks a 10-year contract, according to the Pakistani newspaper.
A spokeswoman for Qatar Liquefied Gas, known as QatarGas, declined to comment on the report when contacted today by phone.

Abu Dhabi Stocks Rise to 5-Month High on Bank Earnings Optimism - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index advanced to the highest level in more than five months after banks in the emirate reported improved quarterly earnings, boosting investor confidence. Dubai shares also rallied.
First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB), the United Arab Emirates lender that reported better-than-expected profit last month, jumped 2.6 percent. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC (ADCB), the U.A.E.’s third- largest lender, surged to the highest since July. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) rose 0.7 percent to 2,593.22, the highest since Sept. 11 an the eighth day of gains, at the 2 p.m close in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) gained 0.9 percent at 1:20 p.m. in Riyadh and Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) soared 2.7 percent to 1,698.22, the highest since December 2010.
The banking sector has shown “great potential, which is the main trigger for economic recovery,” said Musa Haddad, head trader at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC (NBAD)’s asset-management group. “We are seeing momentum building upwards on strong volumes as well as new highs.”

Visiting the Dubai Financial Market to find out whether the good times will last « ArabianMoney

ArabianMoney editor and publisher Peter Cooper visits the Dubai Financial Market with Sandra Mergulhão from to talk about the recent bull market rally and whether it can last.

The DFM is certainly a busier place than it has been for sometime with volumes passing a quarter of a million shares per day. But high oil prices are bad news for the oil consumer nations and tensions with Iran underpin the price rise which is not necessarily good news for Dubai either…

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai hits new 10-mnth high; Arabtec surges - Yahoo!

Dubai's index rallies sharply and retail
investor-driven buying momentum continues.
Contractor Arabtec surges 11.6 percent, National
Central Cooling (Tabreed) hikes 11.9 percent and
insurance stocks also jump.
The benchmark is up 2.7 percent to 1,699 points, recoups
Monday's losses and hits a fresh 10-month high.

TEXT-S&P afrms UAE-based DP World 'BB/B' rtgs;otlk to stbl - Yahoo!

-- Although we expect some challenges for global port
operators in 2012 owing to our weak global macroeconomic
outlook, we believe DP World's geographic
diversification and exposure to growing emerging markets should
help shield its creditworthiness.
-- Despite a robust operating performance in 2011, we
anticipate that DP World's credit metrics are unlikely to
outperform our short-term targets and that it will generate
negative discretionary cash flow over the next few years.
-- As a result, we are affirming our 'BB/B' long- and
short-term ratings on DP World and revising the outlook to
stable from positive.

UAE federal bond to be around $1 bln - paper - Yahoo!

The United Arab Emirates
expects its first federal sovereign bond issue to be around $1
billion after a public debt law is approved, a senior finance
ministry official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Younis al-Khouri, undersecretary and director general at the
UAE Finance Ministry, also told Alrroya newspaper that a public
debt management office is expected to be launched next month.

Oman's Renaissance plans $104 mln convertible bond | Reuters

Oman's Renaissance Services said on Tuesday it will ask shareholders to approve plans for a 40 million rials ($103.9 million) offering of zero coupon convertible bonds.

The approval will be sought at a shareholder meeting on 25 March, the oil services firm said in a filing to the Muscat Securities Market.

Zero coupon convertible bonds are instruments which can be converted into ordinary stock in a company but while maturing at a par value are originally sold at a discount.

HSBC Middle East profits weaker than headlines suggest but UAE gaining traction on debts « ArabianMoney

At first glance a 67 per cent jump in annual profits to $1.4 billion at HSBC Middle East looks pretty impressive when you consider the Arab Spring disruptions across the region last year. But strip out mark-to-market gains of $3.9 billion on its own debt and profits actually fell 6.3 per cent.

This is correct accounting practice though the second figure gives a picture truer to the underlying reality of business operations. There were redundancies in the year with the closure of retail broking in the UAE and retail banking operations in Kuwait. HSBC Amanah also closed in Qatar due to regulatory changes.

gulfnews : EU needs to be proactive with Maghreb neighbours

One year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, with popular upheavals continuing to roil the Arab world, it is increasingly clear that Europe can no longer sit still and do nothing. The ongoing protests have exposed an urgent need for renewed engagement by the European Union with the region in general — and, in particular, with the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean that are the union's neighbours.
Until now, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), born as an afterthought of the EU's successful policy towards Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, has governed the union's actions in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Over time, however, the ENP was largely hijacked by immigration and security considerations. Moreover, it provided an economic lifeline to the region's autocratic regimes.
On the Mediterranean's southern shore, a panoply of grievances, from corruption to a desire for liberty, has motivated the unrest. But the one underlying theme has been the absence of viable economic opportunities for the region's growing population of unemployed, and underemployed, young people.

A look beyond politics in the Arab awakening - The National

During the past year, the Arab world has gone through historic transformations. On top of the mounting death toll, the uprisings have engendered significant economic costs.

A year later, the euphoria of overnight democratic change has given way to the more pragmatic challenges of transition. Much emphasis has been placed on the political aspect of these popular revolts, and while this facet is undoubtedly of utmost importance, one should be mindful that these uprisings have also brought economic, financial and social problems yet again to the forefront.

These dimensions had a central role in triggering the desire for democratic change across the region and will help to determine the sustainability of this new Arab order.

Partnership choices crucial for future Gulf energy security - The National

The US has dominated Gulf energy security since the declaration of the "Carter Doctrine" in 1980. Under that doctrine, the US protected shipping during the Iran-Iraq war, expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, invaded Iraq and now confronts Iran over the Strait of Hormuz.

But how long will a weakened US be content to play this role, when more and more of the Gulf's oil goes to rising powers in Asia?

Senior Gulf political and energy specialists debated this issue at the Brookings Doha Energy Forum last week. It is a timely question, with the US declaration that it would focus diplomatic efforts more on Asia counterpointing the Gulf tour of Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier. That visit led to energy deals with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

UAE set for rush of companies wanting to set up shop - The National

The UAE is bracing for a flood of interest from GCC companies after a recent rule change allowing them to set up branches in the country more easily, says a senior Ministry of Finance official.

Now other states need to do the same to make it easier for UAE firms to become established across the Gulf under common market laws, said Khalid Al Bustani, the assistant undersecretary for international financial relations at the Ministry of Finance.

"We are sure more investors from the GCC will be coming to the UAE this year," he said. "One reason is the normal economic growth and the other is the change of legislation to make it easier for GCC companies to open branches in the UAE."

EU sanctions further choke Syria trade - The National

Syrian business people in the UAE expect their commercial ties with their home country to grind to a halt after fresh sanctions were imposed yesterday on the war-torn country.

"This will make it even more difficult for business with Syria," said Mahmoud, a Syrian businessman living in Dubai who asked for his real name to be withheld out of fear for the safety of his relatives.

"I have stopped most business dealings with companies [in Syria], but more sanctions mean there will be even less opportunities."

Egypt finds recovery an elusive target to hit - The National

A year after events in Egypt came to encapsulate the optimism of the Arab Spring one might be forgiven for thinking things there are already improving.

Egypt has been the best performing major market globally so far this year, with the EGX30 index rising 44.3 per cent in the year to date. Parliamentary elections have taken place and a new assembly held its first session earlier this month, with presidential elections due in the summer.

So far so good. But behind the scenes real progress has been much more elusive, with economic growth struggling and foreign exchange reserves plummeting.

$1.4bn profit for HSBC's Middle East operations - The National

HSBC Middle East made fewer provisions for bad debts last year, helping the country's biggest international lender to rack up a big rise in profits.

The Middle East unit of the banking giant reported a 67 per cent increase in profits to US$1.4 billion (Dh5.14bn) as debt restructurings of big UAE companies eased off.

At a global level, HSBC reported full-year pre-tax profits of $21.8bn at a global level, an increase of 15 per cent on a year earlier.

Oil prices fall after 7-day surge |

Oil prices fell Monday as investors booked some profits after a seven-day surge. Prices were also pressured by concerns about global economic recovery and a stronger dollar.
Benchmark crude fell by $1.21 to end the day at $108.56 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil thats imported by US refineries, lost $1.30 to finish at $124.17 per barrel in London.
Analysts say a standoff between the West and Iran over its nuclear program continues to keep oil prices around nine-month highs. But some traders sold contracts to lock in profits following a 9 percent rise since mid-February. Some people are getting out now just because oil is at those high levels.

Gulf Times – Qatar shares snap 6-day gains on local sell pressure

The Qatar Exchange yesterday snapped a six-day bullish spell to lose 0.21% as its key index failed to break the 8,800 level mainly on domestic institutions’ selling pressure.
Although local retail investors largely held on to their portfolio, the 20-stock benchmark fell 18 points to 8,758.36 points.
The market is down 0.24% year-to-date.

gulfnews : Accor braces for project delays in UAE this year

With aggressive expansion plans for the Middle East over the next few years, French hotel group Accor is likely to experience delays in its UAE projects this year owing to market factors including the ongoing political instability in the region, according to the company's top executive in the region.
The company has plans to open 23 hotels (comprising 5,891 rooms) in the Middle East until 2015, the bulk of which — 12 hotels — will be in the UAE, and of which 10 are due to open this year.
"Some of these hotels are already delayed. We were supposed to open some of these in 2011, but ended up opening just one hotel last year due to poor market conditions such as the Arab Spring," said Christophe Landais, Managing Director of Accor Middle East.

Saudi Arabia to Invest $107 Billion in Energy, Eqtisadiah Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia plans to invest $107 billion over the next five years to boost oil, natural-gas, and refining production capacity, al-Eqtisadiah newspaper said, citing Majid al-Moneef, an adviser to the oil minister.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, has invested $63 billion in the past five years on oil and gas projects, the newspaper said, citing al-Moneef, who is also the governor for Saudi Arabia at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The Kingdom has a policy of keeping between 1.5 million and 2 million barrels a day of oil as spare capacity, al-Eqtisadiah quoted al-Moneef as saying.

Monday, 27 February 2012

gulfnews : UAE investors look to hold assets

The number of UAE investors adopting a 10-year-plus strategy has significantly increased and that of investors choosing a short-term investment strategy continues to decline, according to the latest Friends Provident International (FPI) Investor Attitudes Report.
The study shows that UAE investors are adopting longer-term investment strategies, with the percentage of respondents opting for a ten-year-plus strategy almost doubling since the last survey conducted in the third quarter of 2011.
The trend suggests that consumers are taking responsibility for their future and saving over the longer term to achieve their financial goals, the study said.

MENA stock markets close February 27, 2012

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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi hits fresh 41-mth high; most markets halt rally | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's bourse extended its rally on Monday and trading value hit a new high amid a trend of investment shift to equities, while most regional markets fell in profit-taking.

The kingdom's index rose 0.9 percent to its highest close since September 2008.

Total traded value jumped to 12.2 billion riyals ($3.25 billion), a new high in the last four years as investors pour money into equities from other asset classes on growing confidence.

Head of Bahrain sovereign wealth fund quits -

The head of Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s state holding company, has resigned after a four-year term to return to the private sector.
The move looks set to boost the Gulf state’s troubled financial sector, but it has also raised concerns about the erosion of reformists from leading government roles.

Talal al-Zain said he was proud of the achievements of his term as chief executive of the sovereign wealth fund, managing state companies such as Aluminium Bahrain and national carrier Gulf Air.

Growing expat exodus to Qatar - Telegraph

Securing the World Cup was just the beginning. Qatar is fast becoming the Middle Eastern flagship for social, financial and cultural development and a new banking hotspot.
Qatar’s booming economy and appetite for developing non-oil sectors has attracted the international spotlight, especially in light of looming regulatory changes in the United Arab Emirates, according to Guardian Wealth Management.
David Russell, chief executive officer of GWM Qatar LLC, said: “Upcoming regulatory changes to the investment fund sector in the UAE have understandably made businesses nervous. Those seeking to make the most of more tax-efficient financial hubs expect to benefit from a lucid and uncomplicated system, which Qatar currently offers."

EFG-Hermes Starts Iraq Equity Swaps to Meet Investor Demand - Businessweek

EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, the biggest publicly traded Arab investment bank, started offering an equity-swap product linked to Iraqi securities, potentially allowing investors to benefit from the nation’s recovery from decades of war and sanctions.

“Despite the prevailing risk-averse nature of investment in the Middle East and North Africa region, we have seen a high level of demand for access to this new frontier market,” said Julian Bruce, the Dubai-based director of institutional sales trading at EFG-Hermes. The product will remove “both the domestic Iraqi broker counter-party risk and the labor-intensive procedures involved in domestic execution.”

Almost a decade after a U.S.-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s economy is set to expand 12.6 percent in 2012, the fastest among MENA countries, according to the International Monetary Fund. Regional markets were hurt last year amid uprisings that ousted leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and investor concern Europe’s debt crisis may spread.

UPDATE 1-Dubai's JAFZA hires Citi to weigh $2 bln bond options - sources - Finance News - London South East

Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) has hired Citigroup to advise on options for meeting a $2 billion Islamic bond maturity this year, including the potential sale of its UK-based developer Gazeley, three sources said on Monday.

JAFZA, which runs an industrial free zone on the outskirts of Dubai, has said it aims to refinance the 7.5-billion dirhams Islamic bond which matures in November.

'Citi will for sure look at all options available to address the debt,' one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'If they can help sell Gazeley in this market, then it will definitely go toward helping repayment but these markets are not so conducive for asset sales.

Dubai Shares Drop Most in 2 Months on Speculation Rally Overdone - Businessweek

Dubai’s benchmark stock index retreated the most in more than two months on investor speculation this month’s rally was overdone and after the Dubai Financial Market PJSC posted its first full-year loss.

Dubai Financial Market, the only publicly traded Gulf Arab stock market, declined 4.2 percent. Aramex PJSC retreated the most in almost two months after the largest courier company in the Middle East reduced its dividend compared with 2010. The DFM General Index fell 1.3 percent, the most since Dec. 21, to 1,654.20 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The measure, which entered a bull market last week, has surged 27 percent from a low in January.

“We are at the point where our markets are likely to take a breather,” said Dubai-based Ibrahim Masood, who helps manage about $400 million at Mashreqbank PSC. “Local retail are doing the buying, and none of them are the kind to buy and hold; this hot potato is in slippery hands.”

EMs boost HSBC but not by enough | beyondbrics –

Shares in HSBC fell by 2.3 per cent in morning trading on Monday, after the London-based bank reported a 6 per cent fall in underlying profits to $17.7bn for 2011. A strong rise in profits from emerging markets, especially Asia and Latin America, was not enough to offset worse-than-expected earnings in Europe and the US.

HSBC – which put a photo of a Chinese ship unloading machinery in Brazil on the front of its annual report and accounts for 2011 – could hardly be making a stronger commitment to emerging markets as it strives to meet earnings and efficiency targets. But its approach is more hard-headed than the friends-with-everyone, “world’s local bank” strategy of old.

It was a dismal year in developed markets for the bank. Underlying profits in Europe fell from $4.38bn in 2010 to $1.72bn in 2011, a fall of 61 per cent. In North America, a profit of $285m in 2010 was followed by a net loss of $870m last year (caused largely by adjustments of $970m).

Saudi Ctrl Bk To Keep Key Rates Unchanged In March - Sources -

The Saudi central bank has decided to keep its key interest rates unchanged in March, as inflation pressures remain under control, people familiar with the matter said Sunday.

Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, or SAMA, told the kingdom's banks that it will hold its overnight reverse repo rate at 0.25% next month, and the benchmark repurchase rate at 2%, the people said.

Annual inflation in the kingdom remained unchanged at 5.3% in January versus December, data from the Central Department of Statistics and Information showed earlier this month.

Qatar Petroleum eyes Australia LNG units

Qatar Petroleum is considering investment in Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and possibly buying into an export boom that poses the only serious challenge to its place as the world's top LNG exporter, a company official said.

'I think we are exploring all geographical places that would really achieve our business objectives and Australia definitely is an important proposition where maybe we will be able to find good investment opportunities,' Abdulrahman Al-Shaibi, director of finance at Qatar Petroleum, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

By 2020, Australia may eclipse Qatar as the world's largest LNG exporting country.

Dubai Shares Drop on Bets This Month’s Rally Overdone; DFM Falls - Businessweek

Dubai’s benchmark stock index retreated from a 10-month high on speculation a rally this month was overdone and after the Dubai Financial Market PJSC posted its first full-year loss.

Dubai Financial Market, the only publicly traded Gulf Arab stock market, declined 1.7 percent. Aramex PJSC retreated the most in almost two months after the largest courier company in the Middle East cut its dividend. The DFM General Index fell 0.4 percent to 1,670.57 at 11:28 a.m. in the emirate. The measure, which entered a bull market last week, has surged 28 percent from a low in January.

gulfnews : Takaful Emarat set to unveil Islamic fund

On March 5, Takaful Emarat will unveil the first investment fund conceived and developed in-house, which the company sees as a milestone in its fourth year of operations. All the necessary approvals have been obtained, including the crucial one from the company's Sharia board.
To be managed by Riyadh Capital, the open-ended fund — with up to 90 per cent of the investor's funds being guaranteed — has a multi-year tenure. Takaful Emarat currently has more than 70 savings and protection funds on offer, but developed by others.
This is a crucial year for the Islamic insurer, which is a joint venture between Al Buhaira National Insurance Co and Austria's Uniqa Group. At the end of the year the company will look to report its first profits, said Ghassan Marrouche, general manager.

A look beyond politics in the Arab awakening - The National

During the past year, the Arab world has gone through historic transformations. On top of the mounting death toll, the uprisings have engendered significant economic costs.

A year later, the euphoria of overnight democratic change has given way to the more pragmatic challenges of transition. Much emphasis has been placed on the political aspect of these popular revolts, and while this facet is undoubtedly of utmost importance, one should be mindful that these uprisings have also brought economic, financial and social problems yet again to the forefront.

These dimensions had a central role in triggering the desire for democratic change across the region and will help to determine the sustainability of this new Arab order.

Investcorp plans US property investments - The National

Investcorp, a Bahraini investment company, plans to spend up to US$250 million (Dh917.9m) in the US property market this year.

The asset management firm said improving economic conditions in the US and limited growth in supply were creating attractive opportunities.

"What we find interesting is there really is very little commercial construction in the United States right now," said Jonathan Dracos, the head of real estate for Investcorp.

Oman Tribune -Representatives of 19 banks form Omani Bank Association

Representatives of 19 banks in Oman signed an agreement to form the Omani Banks Association on Sunday.

Chief executive officers (CEO) from various banks attended the meeting to set up the association that will work with the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) to promote transparency in bank dealings.

It will also make sure that all banks in the Sultanate abided by local and international banking rules.

Nakheel pays back Dh202.2m to lenders as part of restructuring

Nakheel, one of Dubai's largest property developers, has paid Dh202.2 million to its lenders as part its restructuring commitments.
The payments are in line with the due date, which is scheduled for the end of this month.
"The timely discharge of the committed payments signals the successful execution of the restructured operations by Nakheel and cements the company's commitments towards successfully implementing the agreed operating plan following the completion of one of the largest and most complex restructurings in the Middle East in August 2011," a Nakheel spokesperson said.

Caseload doubles at Dubai financial court - The National

The caseload for Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts' largest claims court has more than doubled so far this year as more firms rush to get disputes resolved in the free zone.

Officials say the rise is down to more awareness about the courts' capabilities after a rule change in October to widen its remit to include non-DIFC firms. Publicity surrounding a recent high-profile case has also helped attract more interest, they say.

"More people have been made aware about the DIFC Courts when they didn't know about them previously and it has become an option they never contemplated before," said Mark Beer, the DIFC Courts registrar.

gulfnews : Dubai Financial Market profit falls to Dh8m as stock trading plunges

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) on Sunday reported a net profit of Dh8 million for 2011, compared Dh89.9 million in 2010.
The DFM Group, which includes its subsidiary Nasdaq Dubai, reported a net loss of Dh6.9 million in 2011 compared to a net profit of Dh78.9 million in 2010.
The group's total revenues declined 32 per cent last year to Dh176.5 million from Dh260.5 million in 2010. The total revenue comprised Dh119.6 million operational revenues and Dh56.9 million in investment revenues and others.

MENA stock markets close - February 26, 2012

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)