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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Kuwait stocks may be supported by govt buying | Reuters

The long-drawn-out political deadlock between Kuwait's cabinet and parliament has hurt the stock market, but fund managers and analysts believe government-linked funds may have stepped in to support shares, and blue chips are reaping the benefit.

The market's index slumped to an eight-year low in mid-August, underperforming most other stock markets in the Gulf, largely because of the political situation.

Opposition legislators are boycotting parliament and accuse the government of trying to gerrymander voting districts for the next election, which could be held by the end of this year. In the meantime, much economic policy-making and many investment plans have been frozen.

The Gulf Boycotts Lebanon | Al Akhbar English

Rumors of an unofficial boycott of Lebanon by oil-rich Gulf states have the Lebanese business community on edge, with trade, tourism, and billions of dollars in remittances on the line.

While the deportation of Lebanese citizens, particularly Shia, from some Gulf countries has been going on for several years, anecdotal evidence is mounting to indicate that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are ratcheting up efforts to restrict Lebanese travel to the Gulf.

One Lebanese banker from Beirut tells the story of one of his relatives who was applying for a visa at the Qatari embassy in Lebanon. He checked the embassy’s website for visa requirements and began preparing his documents, including a hotel reservation in one of the hotels in Doha.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi falls to 2-mth low; Gulf down on euro zone worries - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse slumped to a two-month low on Wednesday amid a region-wide decline as opposition in the euro zone to measures aimed at resolving the region's debt crisis worsened the shaky outlook on global
economic growth.
Protesters clashed with police in Spain as the government prepared to unveil its 2013 budget on Thursday, causing a sharp rise in borrowing rates and drop in world shares.
"This continuous decline is parallel to foreign markets--the euro zone condition is back in focus and Spain's contagion crisis is affecting sentiment," said Hesham Tuffaha, head of asset management at Saudi Arabia's Bakheet Investment Group.

MIDEAST MONEY-Benghazi attack a short-term setback for Libya investment revival - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The taxi driver parked outside a luxury hotel in Tripoli says most of his business there has ground to a halt in the past two weeks.
Since an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, heightening fears for the safety of Westerners in Libya, there have been fewer foreign customers requesting his services.
"There has been a change, the foreigners are much more cautious now," the driver, who did not wish to be named so as not to be recognised, said. "They won't just come up to the taxi rank, they want to be careful. Some have gone, others are staying inside the hotel. But they're not going out with us."

Islamic investment bank in Egypt wants to buy brokerage | Reuters

Cairo-based Ridge Islamic Capital is seeking to buy a local brokerage as part of its expansion plan, so that it can offer a full range of sharia-compliant financial services in the country, a company official told Reuters.

"We want to start providing sharia-compliant brokerage services during the fourth quarter of 2012," Ahmed Rizkallah, country manager of Ridge Islamic, told Reuters on Wednesday.

He said his firm was looking for an established brokerage with a solid reputation and a track record, but declined to name any possible targets or specify a potential deal size.

GDP growth target of 4-4.5% for Dubai 2012-15 still higher than most of the rest-of-the-world « ArabianMoney

Dubai will achieve GDP growth of four to 4.5 per cent for the years 2012-15, forecast chief economist of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, Dr. Mohamed Lahouel speaking to a joint meeting of the Russian, Hellenic and Italian Business Councils today.

Head of foreign investment promotion Fahad Al Gergawi also addressed the same event with a presentation of Dubai as a ’safe and unique gateway to the region for business’ with a world-class urban infrastructure. One lawyer attending told ArabianMoney his firm is now spending more time setting up companies than dealing with real estate disputes.

Nat. Bank of Fujairah to replace Barclays on UAE rate panel-sources | Reuters

National Bank of Fujairah has been chosen to replace Barclays on the panel which sets the United Arab Emirates' indicative interbank lending rates, banking sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Barclays said in July it was withdrawing from the panel which determines the Emirates interbank offered rate (Eibor), weeks after it agreed to pay a $453 million fine to U.S and British regulators over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor).

There has been no suggestion that Barclays tried to manipulate Eibor, which is used to price financial instruments in the Gulf's top financial centre.

Sharjah: In search of FDI | Economy | UAE: Sharjah | Oxford Business Group

Stepping up efforts to attract foreign investment to its shores, Sharjah is reaching out to the global market to spur growth at home, though the emirate is facing stiff competition in an increasingly tight global market.

Spearheading this drive is the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), a state agency established in 2009 and tasked with promoting investment and development and putting in place both infrastructure and regulations to facilitate economic growth. One key tool in achieving these goals and increasing the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) is international road shows to showcase Sharjah’s investment appeal.

Shurooq’s most recent marketing efforts were directed at Malaysia, which is considered a good fit for Sharjah as it has enjoyed sustained economic expansion in line with that of the emirate, and is also seen as Asia’s sharia-compliant finance hub, which could boost bilateral banking and capital links.

Markets watch: new Oman banks flex muscles -

New Islamic banks in Oman are bolstering their balance sheets to challenge the country’s larger conventional lenders after the sultanate allowed sharia-compliant lending for the first time last year.

This month, Al Izz Islamic bank, Oman’s second dedicated Islamic bank, opened subscription for its initial public offering of 40 per cent of the lender. So far, it says interest has been strong.

Qatar's modern future rubs up against conservative traditions | Reuters

Qatar is spending massively to modernize its capital ahead of the 2022 World Cup, leading conservative Qataris to worry about how this will affect the Islamic nature of the Gulf state.

Trucks can be seen speeding around Doha's business district, carrying building materials for the $150 billion makeover that will give the city a new metro, airport, seaport and roads.

In the busy years leading up to the soccer tournament, Doha will see an influx of foreign companies, professionals and workers. With them will come a fresh flood of foreign cultures and lifestyles, and that is causing concern.

Saudi August Oil Output Was 9.8 Million Barrels, GOR Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s daily crude oil production averaged 9.753 million barrels last month and its supply to the market was 9.835 million barrels, according to the Gulf Oil Review.
“Sources at the Saudi oil ministry say the kingdom will continue to produce at these levels if needed and remains committed to meeting higher customer demand,” the report said.
Maintaining price stability at about $100 a barrel is a key strategic objective for Saudi Arabia, the newsletter said, citing unidentified sources in the country’s oil ministry.

MENA stock markets close - September 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)

TEXT-Fitch affirms Bank Muscat at 'A-'; Outlook Stable - Yahoo! News Maktoob

NY court revives lawsuits between Mashreq, Algosaibi, al-Sanea | Reuters

A divided New York state appeals court on Tuesday reinstated two lawsuits involving the Algosaibi family conglomerate, Dubai-based Mashreqbank PSC and Maan al-Sanea, the Saudi billionaire head of the Saad Group, in connection with a longstanding fight over an alleged multibillion-dollar fraud.

The ruling, which found that New York was the appropriate forum to hear the lawsuits, is the latest development in the global legal battle between al-Sanea and his in-laws, the Algosaibis. A spokesman for al-Sanea declined to comment on Tuesday's decision.

The Algosaibi family claims al-Sanea, who married into the family 30 years ago, defrauded it of billions of dollars after he was put in charge of its financial businesses. Al-Sanea and the Saad Group have denied the allegations.

Bahrain's economy improves, human rights concerns remains | Al Bawaba

Bahrain's sound economic fundamentals and core strengths have come into play with growth indicators reflecting the revival in sentiment.

Central Bank of Bahrain Executive Director of Banking Supervision Khalid Hamad told DT that the banking industry is in good health with loans and advances registering growth of 6.2 per cent as at end-July 2012, when compared with July 2011. Over the same period, deposits and balance sheets have grown 8pc and 4.5pc respectively, he added.

Mr. Hamad spoke on the sidelines of the opening of the sixth branch of Khaleeji Commercial Bank in Riffa.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai makes largest drop in 4 mths, euro zone woes weigh - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's bourse drops the most in a daily move since early June, amid a regional downtrend, as protests in euro
zone countries over austerity measures spark caution across global markets.
The emirate's index falls 1.8 percent to 1,563 points, slumping to a two-week closing low.
Property-related stocks lead the drop. Emaar Properties falls 2.8 percent, Drake & Scull drops 1.3 percent and contractor Arabtec slides 4.7 percent.
Abu Dhabi's measure ends 0.3 percent lower at 2,598 points. Sorouh Real Estate and Dana Gas drop 1.7 and 2.3 percent respectively.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Petchems head losers as Saudi resumes drop - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia petrochemical stocks head declines on the kingdom's bourse as renewed jitters in Europe weigh.
The main index falls 1 percent to 6,906 points, down for seven sessions in the last eight.
Petrochemicals stocks, seen as a proxy for the global economy, are the main drag but selling pressure is across the board.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) falls 1.4 percent, National Industrialization sheds 1.9 percent and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical drops 1.5 percent.

Egypt's growth seen falling short of govt forecasts | Reuters

Egypt's economy is unlikely to grow as quickly as the government has forecast for this financial year, economists polled by Reuters predicted, dampening hopes Egyptians will see quick benefits after an uprising driven partly by economic grievances.

In its budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1, the government predicted gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 4 to 4.5 percent in 2012/13, a forecast that ministers have regularly reaffirmed in recent weeks.

"I think it's a bit optimistic for the coming year. If there is austerity in Egypt, the government will have very little power to stimulate the economy," said Said Hirsh, an economist with Capital Economics.

Qatar Holding says not in talks to buy Batista's AUX stake - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Gulf state's sovereign fund, denied on Wednesday that it was in talks to buy a minority stake in Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista's gold company AUX.
"Qatar Holding wishes to make clear that it is not, and has never been, involved in discussions regarding such an
acquisition. There is therefore no foundation, past or present, to such speculation," the investment firm said in a statement.
Earlier this week Reuters quoted three banking sources as saying Qatar Holding was in advanced talks to buy a 49-percent stake in AUX for about $2 billion.

JPM, London fund invest $20 mln in Dubai e-commerce firm | Reuters

J.P. Morgan Chase and Blakeney Management have invested over $20 million in a Dubai-based e-commerce firm which sells designer clothing, a sign that global investors are interested in the Middle East's nascent online shopping sector.

Namshi, a start-up launched late in 2011, aims to benefit from growth in the number of Internet users around the region.

"We realised very early that there is a gap in the market for fashion e-commerce in the region," said co-founder and managing director Muhammed Mekki, a former executive at consultancy McKinsey & Co, who founded Namshi with three other partners.

Qatar Islamic Bank plans dollar-denominated sukuk - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Qatar Islamic Bank plans to issue a dollar-denominated sukuk under its recently approved $1.5 billion sukuk issuance programme, lead arrangers said.
Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered and QInvest LLC are mandated for the sukuk, a document
from the lead arrangers showed.
No details were provided on the size of the sukuk. Investor meetings have been planned for Asia, Middle East
and Europe.

The Arab World’s Looming Crisis: The Rapidly Rising Cost of Food - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

While many Arab countries are struggling to adapt to the economic implications of the Arab Spring, another crisis now looms on the horizon: the rising cost of food. Taking the necessary steps to tackle this crisis is in the interest of not only the Arab Spring states, but the entire region — including the wealthy Gulf emirates. After all, nearly every country in the Arab world is facing a lack of food security.

Qatar: Rich And Dangerous - Analysis Eurasia Review

The first concern of the Emir of Qatar is the prosperity and security of the tiny kingdom.  To achieve that, he knows no limits.

Stuck between Iran and Saudi Arabia is Qatar with the third largest natural gas deposit in the world.  The gas gives the nearly quarter of a million Qatari citizens the highest per capita income on the planet and provides 70 percent of government revenue.

How does an extremely wealthy midget with two potentially dangerous neighbors keep them from making an unwelcomed visit?  Naturally, you have someone bigger and tougher to protect you.

China hones new pitch for Abu Dhabi oil - The National

Western oil majors have perfected a pitch when it comes to keeping their place in Abu Dhabi concessions, vouching for their technology and expertise that, it is implied, newcomers lack.

Now with a little more than a year to go until a prized concession expires, the biggest newcomer of all - China - is responding with a similar narrative.
Take, for example, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which submitted prequalification papers to bid in Abu Dhabi's biggest concession and is also studying prospects for seven undeveloped blocks.

Big lenders wary with new Central Bank rules on the way - The National

The UAE's biggest lenders yesterday urged the Central Bank to ease new rules designed to limit borrowing by companies, and delay a looming deadline to comply with them.

In April, the Central Bank announced measures to limit the amount banks could lend to companies in an effort to mitigate risk and to protect them in the event of a cataclysmic default.

The new rules are set to come into force on Sunday.

O'Donnell to take reins at Al Futtaim Real Estate - The National

Chris O'Donnell, the former Nakheel chief executive, has been appointed president of rival property developer Al Futtaim Real Estate Group (Afreg).

The Australian executive who headed Nakheel for five years overseeing high-profile projects such as the Palm Jumeirah and The World and culminating in the Dubai World crisis in 2009, will oversee the property division of the Dubai conglomerate.

Al Futtaim Real Estate confirmed yesterday that Mr O'Donnell, who in February successfully sued Nakheel for more than US$3 million (Dh11m) in end of service payments in one of the UAE's biggest ever pay rows, had been appointed earlier this month.

Tasweek invests in Malaysia |

Tasweek Real Estate Development and Marketing, an advisor and solutions provider serving the property markets, has announced that it has entered into a joint venture with Casabrina Vacation Villas in Malaysia to develop, own, operate and market the luxury resort’s properties.
According to Masoud Al Awar, Tasweek’s CEO, the new Dh920 million (US$250 million) property portfolio is expected to generate an annual investment yield of 5 to 7 per cent.
Tasweek said in a statement that the joint venture will facilitate purchase and sale of strategic assets; asset management; joint ventures and strategic alliances; and marketing consultancy.

DFM, ADX indexes rise on improved global sentiments |

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) index returned to the positive territory yesterday on high volumes on the back of higher international oil prices and improved investor confidence in the European and Asian markets which allowed market participants waiting on the sidelines to lap up some of the attractively-valued stocks.
Yesterday, the Dubai market witnessed some aggressive buying by investors in real estate major Emaar and DP World stocks. However, selling by investors in Arabtec’s stock pared the index’s gains.
The DFM index closed at 1,591.62 on low volumes with 1,600 seen as the next resistance level. Analysts say a close above 1,600 on high volumes would indicate greater upside movements on the market in the days ahead. Around 168.65 million shares, cumulatively worth about Dh328.25 million were traded on the Dubai stock market yesterday. As many as 10.69 million Emaar shares, cumulatively valued at around Dh38.2 million were traded, its stock closing 0.56 per cent higher at Dh3.58.

Outstanding achievements recognised with SKEA |

Winners of the eleventh edition of the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award were honoured last night in a ceremony at Emirates Palace. The awards were presented by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
The Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award (SKEA) is awarded to companies that have demonstrated superior organisational excellence through a process of rigorous assessment.
Shaikh Mansour said Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award (SKEA) embodies an incentive and driving-force for UAE organisations so that they achieve the utmost degree of excellence in performance and materialise the best results.

Business - Investor confidence surges as Abu Dhabi credit risk falls

Credit default swap, or CDS, spreads in Abu Dhabi have dramatically narrowed since May 2012, from 142 to 99, signifying an increasing investor confidence on the back on diminishing sovereign risk.
Analysts said the plunge in CDS spread meant, apart from lower sovereign risk, declining bank risk entailing a valuation rerating for Abu Dhabi banks and government/quasi-sovereign debt.
Matein Khalid, chief investment officer and strategist at Fortes Holdings, said there was no doubt that Abu Dhabi has emerged as a safe haven for regional capital flows since it offers investors a compelling set of attributes.

Qatar punches above its weight - The National

The outsized, upstart airline reflects its national roots with a global clout widely exceeding what seems possible from a country of 300,000 citizens. With western carriers reeling under recession, the skies still look clear over Doha. Elizabeth Dickinson, Gulf Correspondent, reports

A In less than two decades of operation, Qatar Airways has often seemed the perfect metaphor for its home state: young, energetic and ambitious, with an international presence far larger than seems possible for a country with just 300,000 citizens.

In 2010 and 2011, as international commentators were waking up to tiny Qatar's massive foreign policy, the state's national air carrier was posting a record year. The world airline market had been depressed since the global financial crisis, but Qatar Airways turned a profit of US$205 million (Dh752.97m) in the fiscal year that ended on March 31,2011.