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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Dubai traders hail Iranian rial action - The National

Traders in Dubai hope Iran's introduction of a more flexible exchange rate will help to stimulate trade flows under pressure from sanctions and the Iranian rial's slide.

The rial has fallen by close to half against the US dollar in black-market trading in the past year, pushing up the cost of goods flowing to Iran. Most trade has been based on the unofficial rate of 19,000 rials to the dollar.

In an effort to ease costs, the government is to supply dollars at the lower official rate of 12,200 rials to the dollar for the import of basic goods, the official Iranian Students' News Agency reported on Saturday.

A field with growing opportunities - The National

The El Bunduq oilfield is one of the industry's more unusual production sites and its usefulness extends beyond simply being a source of crude.

Situated on the maritime border of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the field is an example of successful cooperation in the Arabian Gulf that precedes the GCC.

"One of our roles is to connect the oil industries, Adnoc [Abu Dhabi National Oil Company] and Qatar Petroleum, and they use Bunduq as a tool to communicate," said Yuji Shiozawa, the general manager at the Bunduq Oil Production Company. The field's platforms have been pumping oil since 1975 with the proceeds split evenly between its joint owners.

Abu Dhabi pumps up the pressure - The National

Long out of print and with copies almost impossible to find, the fine details of the nation's oil concessions were published in two volumes 30 years ago.

The Petroleum Concession Agreements of the United Arab Emirates was printed by a small British publishing house best known for its ornithological reference guides and it shone a light on to a sector even more obscure.

Reprinting every contract signed by the country from the 1930s, the first pages reveal that when western oil companies negotiated drilling rights in Abu Dhabi they promised the emirate's then Ruler, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, an annual royalty of 500,000 rupees - and enough petrol for his small fleet of private cars.

Impetus in short supply - The National

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) declined in the first trading session since the start of Ramadan.

"Trading activity is very low, there is not that much interest," said Marwan Shurrab, the vice president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments, based in Dubai.

"It's the first trading day in Ramadan and most people are on a wait-and-see scenario for a catalyst to determine the next market move."

Prudent planning in GCC as global economy teeters - The National

In the United States, jobs figures, retail sales and business spending are all dropping. Economic growth is slowing in China and India. In Europe, a seemingly endless euro-zone crisis has steamrollered over Spain, making Greece's drama seem a sideshow. The Middle East has its own problems of political instability, which has had major consequences for the economies of countries such as Egypt and Syria.

These are the ingredients of a very bad year to come, and the past three and a half haven't been much of a joyride. The combination of crippling levels of debt and a global crisis in economic confidence, leaves the IMF predicting a 0.2 per cent contraction of the global economy.

There are, in short, many people who are listening to "Dr Doom", a moniker earned by the economist Nouriel Roubini for his predictions about the 2008 economic crisis. "Next year is the time when the can becomes too big to kick it down [the road] … then we have a global perfect storm," Dr Roubini warns.

Bahrain’s strength lies in human capital |

Bahrain’s not so impressive credit ranking should be a cause of concern for authorities. Standard and Poor’s, a key credit rating agency, has assigned Bahrain the lowest ranking among fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
In fact, the credit rating of ‘BBB’ is the lowest investment rating. Still, of all GCC countries, only Bahrain is on S&P’s credit watch. What’s more is that the outlook for Bahrain remains negative.
The relatively poor rating by regional standards adds to an already alarming debt challenge. Outstanding public debt amounted to $7.7 billion in 2010, rising to $9.5 billion in 2011 and to $11.6 billion this year.

Saudi banks accelerate lending |

Saudi Arabian banks are lending the most in at least five years as the government’s plan to invest $500 billion in new housing, infrastructure and industry boosts confidence in the kingdom’s economy.
Bank credit climbed 13 per cent in the 12 months ending in May to 868 billion riyals (Dh849 billion), according to central bank data. Ten of 11 publicly-traded banks reported raising the value of their loan portfolios in the first six months.
“Bank lending to the private sector will increase by 14 per cent this year,” Paul Gamble, Riyadh-based chief economist at Jadwa Investment Co., said in response to e-mailed questions. “Strong economic-growth prospects have reassured banks about the lending environment and spurred demand for credit. Although the loan-to-deposit ratio has edged up in the past couple of months, banks remain liquid and fairly keen to lend.”

Dubai had largest number of rooms under construction in June |

Dubai reported the largest number of hotel rooms in the in-construction phase in June this year, according to the latest report by STR Global.
The hotels data provider’s Global Construction Pipeline Report for June 2012 revealed that Dubai currently has 11,307 rooms under construction.
The report further revealed that out of the 506 hotels totalling 129,077 rooms in the Middle East & Africa pipeline, Abu Dhabi hotel rooms pipeline was almost half of those recorded in Dubai. The hotels there reported having a total of 5,658 rooms in construction in June.

UAE top destination for India’s exports |

The UAE has emerged as the top export destination for India during 2012, while the country’s shipments to the US are declining, a study has said.
Although the US has maintained its high position in India’s top 10 export destinations over the years, its share in the country’s total exports has registered a slip from about 21 per cent in 2001 to 17 per cent in 2006 to 12 per cent in 2012, industry body PHDCCI said in the study.
Whereas, UAE’s contribution has increased to 12 per cent in 2012 from about 6 per cent in 2001, it said.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman lag behind world in women employment

A recent study revealed that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman are the least to integrate women in the job market.

According to a report issued by the Gallup institute published in the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh, the percentage of women working in Saudi Arabia is below 22 percent, compared to the average 40 percent in the Middle East and 43 percent worldwide.

The report added that Qatar and Oman are also amongst the countries with the least percentage of women employment together with other non-Arab countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Botswana, and Rwanda, where there is a gap of around 22 percent between male and females in the job market.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Trading slumps in UAE; Kuwait stalls drop | News by Country | Reuters

Trading on bourses in the United Arab Emirates slumped on Sunday as the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan exacerbated a summer lull, while Kuwait's market snapped a three-day decline after the country's emir approved a new cabinet.

Abu Dhabi volumes dropped to their lowest in more than two years, but the index added 0.2 percent.

Dubai's index slipped 1.3 percent, down for a second session since Wednesday's 10-week high. Only 27 million shares changed hands, the lowest total since May 27. ::: - HSBC IMPLICATED

British banking multinational, HSBC has been found to have financed Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank, which has links to financing terrorism in Sri Lanka among other countries, the money laundering investigation report prepared by the United States Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the bank revealed last week.
According to foreign media reports, the ongoing probe has found that HSBC in 2009 authorized its affiliate to supply Indian rupees to Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank, which, the report said, has links to financing terrorism. The 340-page report has sections on how HSBC established links with Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank where in 2009, HSBC had authorized its Hong Kong branch to buy rupees for the Saudi bank.
“The report pointed out that the Saudi banks handled International Islamic Relief Organisation’s ‘charitable contributions intended to benefit suicide bombers by directing al Igatha Journal advertisements…in Somalia, Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines’,” Reuters reported.

Qatar seeks to diversify income sources by investing more abroad

Qatar’s growing investments in foreign markets is part of the country’s strategy to diversify its income sources and protect its shield its economy against possible fall below expectations of oil and gas prices, economic experts told

The economic crisis that has struck several countries in the European Union in particular has unveiled suitable investment opportunities for wealthy states, such as Qatar.

The tiny rich Gulf state, of about 1.9 million people –more than 80 percent of whom are foreign expats –and an estimated GDP per capita of $104,000, invested in foreign markets 20 billion in 2010 and about $ 30 billion in 2011.

Saudi regulator suspends MMG trade over late Q2 earnings | Reuters

The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has suspended trading in shares of troubled Saudi construction firm Mohammad Al Mojil Group (MMG) after it failed to announce its second-quarter results on time, the CMA said on Sunday.

"Given the lack of commitment by MMG in announcing their second quarter results during the specified period...the Capital Market Authority announces the suspension of trading of MMG shares in Tadawul starting from Sunday, 22 July," said the statement, posted on the Tadawul bourse.

On Saturday, MMG announced a delay in publishing its second-quarter financial statements.

Egypt budget projects 12.5 pct higher deficit in 2012/13 | Reuters

Egypt's overall budget deficit will rise 12.5 percent to 135.0 billion Egyptian pounds in the fiscal year that began on July 1, according to a draft budget posted on the Finance Ministry's website on Sunday.

The deficit represents 7.9 percent of projected gross domestic product (GDP), down from 8.2 percent a year earlier, the ministry said.

Total expenditure will climb to 533.8 billion pounds from 476.3 billion in 2011/12, the ministry added.

MENA stock markets close - July 22, 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)

Kuwait's NIG asks for $475 mln sukuk extension as maturity looms | Reuters

National Industries Group Holding (NIG), a Kuwaiti investment firm controlled by one of the country's biggest family conglomerates, has asked creditors for a four-year extension on a $475-million Islamic bond, or sukuk, maturing next month.

The request from NIG, part of the Kharafi Group, is the latest debt issue to surface in the Kuwaiti investment sector, which was hard hit by the 2008 global financial crisis.

Firms who borrowed cheap short-term cash in the boom years to fund an asset-buying spree, both locally and overseas, found they could not refinance the debt once borrowing costs rose. Offloading assets at deflated values in a stagnant private equity market has proven difficult.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Industries Qatar and Rabigh Refining - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) rose 0.2 percent to 2,471.76, the highest since July 10, at the close in the emirate. Dubai’s benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI) lost 1.3 percent, while Qatar’s QE Index was little changed.

Bahrain’s Mumtalakat Has no Plans to Sell New Debt, Alayam Says - Bloomberg

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. BSC, the Island-Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, doesn’t plan to sell new debt at the moment, Alayam reported, citing chief executive officer Mahmood Al Kooheji.
The fund, which manages $8.8 billion in assets, will seek to extend the repayment period on existing debt and focus on reducing debt levels, Al Kooheji told the Bahraini newspaper.
The company raised $750 million from the sale of bonds in 2010. The yield on the 5 percent notes maturing June 2015 has fallen 97 basis points this year to 4.77 percent on July 20, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dubai's Mashreq H1 net profit rises 7.1 pct | Reuters

Mashreq, Dubai's second-biggest lender by market value, posted a net profit of 591 million dirhams ($160.9 million) for the first six months of the year, the bank said in a statement on Sunday.

This was a 7.1 percent rise compared with a profit of 551.6 million dirhams for the corresponding period of 2011, according to a Reuters calculation.

Its second-quarter net profit was 320 million dirhams, compared to 286.3 million dirhams in the same three months of last year, according to Reuters calculations, based on previous statements from Mashreq.

Egypt Seeks $1.2 Billion in Debt as Yields Decline From Record - Bloomberg

Egypt seeks to raise 7 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) in domestic debt today as yields drop from records, helped by central bank measures to boost bank funding and a government plan to extend debt maturities.
The Ministry of Finance plans to sell 4 billion pounds of nine-month treasury notes and 1 billion pounds in three-month bills, according to central bank data on Bloomberg. The ministry also seeks to raise 1 billion pounds each from the sale of five- year and 10-year bonds, the data show.
Treasury yields have retreated from near-record highs in June after the central bank cut the local currency reserve requirement ratio for banks to 10 percent and started selling 28-day repurchase agreements alongside seven-day repos. Interim Finance Minister Momtaz El-Saieed said July 16 the government plans to raise the average maturity of local debt to 1.8 years. Egypt’s average debt maturity fell to 1.3 years at the end of 2011 from 1.7 years in 2010.

Israel Stocks Drop on Europe Debt, Syria Concern; Dubai Declines - Bloomberg

Israeli shares headed for their biggest drop in a week amid concern that Europe’s debt crisis will hamper global growth and as fighting escalated in neighboring Syria. Dubai’s stock index declined.
Cellcom Israel Ltd. (CEL), Israel’s largest wireless provider, tumbled to the lowest intraday level on record. Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (MLNX), a developer of technology used to transfer and store data, lost 4.3 percent following a decline in its U.S.-traded shares. The TA-25 benchmark index dropped 0.7 percent, heading for its biggest decrease since July 15, to 1,072.26 as of 1:03 p.m. in Tel Aviv. Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) fell 1.3 percent.
“The market is following the European and the U.S. market declines on Friday on continued debt concerns on the continent,” said Daniel Rapoport, head of equity and derivatives at Bank Leumi Le-Israel (LUMI) in Tel Aviv. “Liquidity is poor, typical of a Sunday and we are at the height of summer.”

Egypt's Citadel says Q1 net loss grew 43 pct | Reuters

Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital said on Sunday its net loss in the first quarter had widened 43 percent from a year earlier to $26.4 million.

It said assets under management had risen 4.9 percent to $4.4 billion in the 12 months to end-March 2012.

"Setting aside the net effect of one-time fees related to Citadel Capital's refinanced debt and the OPIC-backed facility, the firm would have recorded a 9 percent narrowing of its consolidated loss," the company said in an emailed statement.

EA WorldView - Home - The Latest from Iran (22 July): Trying to Fix the Economy for Ramadan

On the first day of Ramadan, the most telling signal from the regime may have been the announcement of the Central Bank that a "tiered" exchange rate is being introduced for imports.

The step is an effective admission that the currency situation --- with the Iranian Rial holding only half its value in the open market, vs. its official rate --- is damaging Iran's producers across industrial and agricultural sectors. Higher costs for inputs have driven up the prices of those goods which could be made, and in many case, production has been cut back or suspended entirely.

The Bank's step commands that "basic goods" can be imported at the official rate of 12260 Rials to the US dollar --- an effective discount of almost 60% on the market price --- and "capital and intermediate goods" at  a rate of 15,000 Rials to the dollar. Luxury goods will continued to be valued at the market rate of more than 19000 Rials to the dollar.

Australian gas rush set to overhaul Qatar's lead - Channel NewsAsia

Australia is set to become the world's biggest liquefied natural gas producer, with analysts predicting it will overtake Qatar by 2020 as it unlocks reserves that could last more than a century.

Seven of the world's 10 major LNG projects are under construction Down Under, with A$176 billion (US$183 billion) of private Australian and foreign investment in gas projects since 2007.

"The projects already under development will take us ahead of Qatar. It's just a case of when that happens," Wood Mackenzie analyst Chris Graham told AFP.