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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.