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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Russia Winner in Energy Transit Deal With Turkey - Al-Monitor

"When the Shah Deniz Consortium opted for Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) instead of Nabucco, Russia technically won the battle for Europe’s fourth energy corridor. If Turkey, which granted a permit for Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project, is not able to partake in some of this Russian success, it is because Ankara did not give permission — in an attempt to achieve its own energy ambitions, despite its intractable political and economic ties with Russia.
The fourth energy corridor, known also as the southern energy corridor, aims to bring Caspian gas to Europe via southern routes instead of northern Russian territories. During the project’s battle to become the fourth energy corridor, Turkey’s full commitment to the objective of building the corridor was certain but its preference among competing  gas pipeline projects to build the corridor remained unclear."

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Financial Mirror dot com - Kuwait banking outlook remains stable, says Moody's

"The outlook for Kuwait's banking system remains stable, unchanged since 2011, Moody's Investors Service said in a new report, reflecting the expectation of a benign operating environment, supported by high oil revenues and government spending (mainly current account).
Over the 12-18 month outlook period, the operating environment for the banks will remain accommodative, underpinning the banking sector's robust capitalisation and ample liquidity. Moody's expects that Kuwait's non-oil 2013 GDP growth will increase to 3.2%, the highest rate for the past five years, mainly driven by the government's current account spending.
Meanwhile, although the implementation of the government's $110 bln national development plan continues to face delays in parliament, the recent adoption of electoral laws that favour the election of a pro-government parliament may accelerate related capital spending in 2014. In this environment, Moody's projects moderate credit growth of 5%-8% in 2013 rising to 8%-10% in 2014 as business opportunities related to the tendering of infrastructure projects pick up. "

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Sanctions tighten squeeze on Iran - The National

"UAE companies with ties to Iran are reassessing their links to the country as the latest sanctions from the United States threaten them with penalties.

Business has already become progressively tougher for those companies with commercial ties to the Islamic republic as banks cut finance and the Iranian currency sinks.

But US sanctions that came into force on July 1 close the door on Iran trade even further by specifically targeting non-US businesses and individuals dealing with Iran's energy, shipping and metals industries."

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Ramadan stock market rally hope on back of MSCI status upgrade - The National

"Fund managers are hoping the elevation of UAE bourses to emerging markets status will support a Ramadan rally.

MSCI, the international index compiler, yesterday shortlisted eight publicly listed companies, including heavyweights Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Aldar, First Gulf Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and DP World, that are expected to enjoy generous weightings on the MSCI UAE Index that will be reclassified from "frontier markets" to "emerging markets" on June 2.

Investors typically position their portfolios ahead of second-quarter results and a so-called "Ramadan rally", which traditionally occurs towards the end of the holy month every year."

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UPDATE 1-Brazil's EBX, Abu Dhabi fund agree on debt refinance deal | Reuters

"Brazil's EBX Group successfully concluded on Wednesday a debt refinancing deal with Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund in a major step toward shoring up billionaire Eike Batista's conglomerate, EBX said.

A source with direct knowledge of the EBX-Mubadala accord told Reuters last week that the agreement will cut EBX's debt with the Abu Dhabi fund, Mubadala Development Co, by more than 25 percent to between $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion. The debt was valued at $2.3 billion recently, the source said.

Under terms of the refinancing accord, EBX repaid a "significant part of Mubadala's initial investment" and reworked contractual aspects, giving Mubadala an additional cushion on its investment in EBX, the company, based in Rio de Janeiro, said."

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Magnit Ups Sales to $1.4Bln | Business | The Moscow Times

"Food retailer Magnit said Wednesday that its sales rose by 30 percent in June, year on year, to stand at 47.5 billion rubles ($1.4 billion), after a rise of 34.5 percent in May.

Magnit, which recently overtook rival X5 as the country's biggest grocery chain by revenue, said the June result brought sales for the first six months of the year to 273 billion rubles, an increase of 31.5 percent.

The company, also Russia's biggest food retailer by store count, opened 170 stores in June, bringing its total to 7,416.

Magnit has said it planned to grow revenue by between 27 and 29 percent in ruble terms this year, compared with about 34 percent last year, backed by a $1.8 billion capital spending program."

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Egypt’s equities or its CDS spreads: which to trust? | beyondbrics

Here’s a question: why are Egyptian equities and Egyptian CDS spreads moving in tandem? In normal circumstances, you’d expect them to move in mirror image of each other. If equities go up, you’d think investors were optimistic about the country’s prospects (good); if CDS spreads go up, you’d think they viewed default as increasingly likely (bad).

So if both go up, is that good or bad?"

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Daily chart: Banking behemoths | The Economist

"For the first time, a Chinese bank takes the top spot in world rankings

EIGHT years ago Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ranked 32nd among the world's top 1,000 banks by Tier-1 capital, which is mostly common stock and retained earnings. Within two years it was in the top ten, and at the end of last year, according to recent figures published by the Banker, it displaced Bank of America as the world's biggest—the first time a Chinese bank has held that position. Notwithstanding China's recent financial hiccups, the country now boasts four of the world's ten biggest banks and 96 of the top 1,000. America can match China for top-ten banks, but Europe has just one: HSBC, which benefits greatly from its Asian operations. In China slowing growth, combined with continued credit expansion, could indicate troubles ahead. But given that the majority of equity in large Chinese banks is state-owned, and that the government has a history of bailing them out, such worries will probably not concern the country's depositors too much.

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The WTI carry unwind | FT Alphaville

"The fixed income team at Credit Suisse have a good note talking about what’s really driving WTI backwardation. Small hint, they don’t think it’s much to do with Egypt.

They put the backwardation down to three things.

First, there’s genuine seasonal demand for light sweet crude, which is always strongest in the summer months. The trend started at least a month ago.

Second, they believe there is a very strong possibility that a lot of the oil that’s stored at the WTI delivery point at Cushing is not necessarily made up of high-quality, low-sulfur, light crude oil — which is what is being demanded by the market — but of a wider category of oil.

Third, the WTI low-interest rate carry trade is being unwound."

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Ukrainian confectioners to ask Cabinet to prevent Russia's introducing special duties on chocolate

"The Ukrkondprom association is intending to appeal to the government of Ukraine asking to prevent the Russian Federation's introducing special duties on imports of chocolate and chocolate produce in response to Kyiv's introducing import duties on cars.

"The state must take into account the interests of all sectors. Therefore, of course, we will appeal to the government asking to respond to this issue [the introduction of special duties on chocolate]," Association President Oleksandr Baldyniuk has told Interfax-Ukraine.

According to him, there is tough competition on the Russian confectionery market, and even under a slight increase in prices Ukrainian producers will not able to meet it. At the same time, Ukraine's position on this market has been quite influential so far: for instance, Ukraine in 2012 delivered 111,000 tonnes of chocolate and chocolate produce worth $376 million to Russia."

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#Ukraine: will new tax law hit the oligarchs? | beyondbrics

With economic challenges piling up fast, you would think Ukraine’s government would move fast to clean up things at home. Cracking down on a tax evasion in a country where the half of the economy is estimated to operate in the shadows would a good place to start.

But will the ruling administration of president Viktor Yanukovich force the billionaire oligarchs who backed him into paying their fair share of taxes, or will they continue applying various means to squeeze hard-earned cash out of average citizens that are struggling to survive?

A case in point is legislation adopted last Thursday by the pro-Yanukovich ruling majority in Ukraine’s parliament."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt rises after billions in Gulf aid; regional trading slumps | Reuters

"Egypt's bourse rose on Wednesday after Gulf countries pledged billions of dollars in aid but gains were capped in muted trade due to the onset of the Ramadan fasting month.

Thin trading volumes plagued regional markets with activity in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait falling to its lowest this year.

After Tuesday's close, Saudi Arabia announced $5 billion in aid for Egypt, including central bank deposits, energy products and cash, while the United Arab Emirates offered $3 billion in grants and loans."

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OPEC Sees U.S. Shale Boom Eroding Demand for 2014 Crude - Bloomberg

"The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast the world will need less of its crude next year, even as global oil demand growth rebounds to its strongest pace since 2010, amid competing supply sources.
Demand for OPEC’s crude will slip by 300,000 barrels a day next year to 29.6 million a day next year, or about 2.6 percent less than the 12-member group is pumping now, the organization said in its first set of forecasts for 2014. The need for OPEC’s crude will diminish even as global oil demand growth recovers to 1 million barrels a day in 2014, from 800,000 a day this year, amid rising output in the U.S. (DOETCRUD) and Canada."

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Kuwait Egypt Aid Pushes Gulf Pledges to $12 Billion in 24 Hours - Bloomberg

"Kuwait extended a $4 billion aid package to Egypt, adding to the $8 billion from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged yesterday.
Kuwait will deposit $2 billion with the Egyptian central bank, give a $1 billion grant and offer $1 billion worth of oil and oil products, state-run Kuna said in a text message today. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. pledged $5 billion and $3 billion respectively yesterday.
Egypt’s reserves declined $1.1 billion in June to $14.9 billion, largely due to the annual re-evaluation of the country’s gold holdings, according to central bank data.
Army generals ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Mursi last week after people took the streets to protest his policies and the nation’s ailing economy."

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Egypt Default Swaps Drop Most Since 2011 on $12 Billion Arab Aid - Bloomberg

"Egypt’s credit risk headed for the biggest drop in more than two years and bonds gained as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait pledged $12 billion of aid and the new premier builds a government.
Five-year credit default swaps, which protect investors against potential non-payment of debt, fell 138 basis points to 679 as of 3:45 p.m. in Cairo, according to data provider CMA. That’s a 17 percent decline, the steepest on a closing basis since February 2011. The yield on the government’s benchmark 5.75 percent bonds due April 2020 decreased 32 basis points to 9.07 percent.
Egyptian shares also advanced after the aid pledges, which came on the same day that Hazem El-Beblawi was selected as interim prime minister to oversee a transitional government after the army removed President Mohamed Mursi a week ago. El-Beblawi, a former Finance Minister, and interim President Adly Mansour are confronting growing violence since the ouster, including the July 8 killing of dozens of the Mursi’s supporters by the army."

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Ukraine’s population to shrink to 36 million by 2050 - ForUm

"Ukraine’s population in 2050 will be about 36 million people, according to Ukrainian demographers.

"According to national forecasts, this figure will reach slightly more than 36 million people, rather than 33 million people," head of the Department of Research into Demographic Processes and Demographic Policy at the Institute of Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Iryna Kurylo told a press conference on Wednesday.

She noted that according to UN forecasts, Ukraine’s population could shrink to 33 million people by 2050. At the same time, the demographer said that Ukrainian scientists had disagreed with such UN estimates, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

"Our demographic projections have been revised to more optimistic in the last few years, since depopulation is slowly declining," Kurylo said.

She said that over the past five years Ukraine had seen a trend towards an increase in life expectancy, "although the pace of growth last year slowed."

"The birth rate has risen to the average European level over the last decade," she said.

A total of 45.495 million people lived in Ukraine as of May 1, 2013.

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Saudi Oil Still Matters | Crossroads Arabia

"Financial Times runs a piece noting that oil from Saudi Arabia will continue to play an important role in the global economy despite enormous potential from shale oils now beginning to be exploited in North America and other parts of the world. The reason is that Saudi Arabia, which still holds and will continue to hold a substantial portion of the world’s oil supply, has served as a buffer and will continue to do so.

Saudi Arabia has shown its willingness to step in and increase its production when global political affairs end up with reduced production elsewhere. The Saudis, for example, increased production when Libya went off-line during its recent revolution. The Kingdom also increase its shipping to fill the void created by sanctions on Iranian oil. It has the reserves that allow it to do so, even if not perfectly.

The article also notes how Saudi Arabia sells oil on contract to end-users; it keeps its oil out of the spot market. This results in a moderating of prices and prevents speculators from gaming the market even more than they currently do."

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UAE property market rally continues through first half 2013 -

"The UAE’s real estate landscape – particularly Abu Dhabi and Dubai – continues to live up to the positive expectations expressed by industry players and observers at the start of the year.

The latest detailed market intelligence report issued by TASWEEK Real Estate Development and Marketing painted a bright property picture for both emirates marked by rising property sales, steady supply, and growing investor confidence.

TASWEEK CEO Masood Al Awar explains that the renewed confidence is the result of two major factors: strong returns on investments and the improving ability among developers and owners to meet their financial commitments."

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Iran Feature: Central Bank (Unwittingly) Admits Big Problem - tks @eanewsfeed

EA WorldView | A Window On The World: "The head of Iran’s Central Bank has claimed that the Islamic Republic’s currency reserves have increased to between 60-65%, Mehr News reports.

Mahmoud Bahmani said that the currency reserves had seen a “dramatic” increase over recent years and now stand at $40 billion. Bahmani said that the issue of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves was confidential.

Wait just a minute — did the Central Bank, after 18 months of withholding figures, just admit to a 50% decrease — not a 60 to 65% increase in Iran’s foreign reserves?

The Islamic Republic has not posted official numbers on its researves, but at the end of 2011 the best estimates — including that of the CIA — were that Iran had amassed $80 billion."

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Sberbank Expects Profit in Eastern Europe | Business | The Moscow Times

"Sberbank expects to swing to a profit this year with the Eastern European business it bought from Austria's Volksbanken, deputy chief executive Sergei Gorkov told Austrian paper Die Presse.

He did not give a more precise forecast and said Sberbank was still weighing whether it would inject more capital into the former Volksbanken International, or VBI, business that required extra provisions last year to cover problem assets.

"We will reflect whether (capital injections) are needed or not, in consideration of the Austria business. They are not necessary at the current stage," he was quoted as saying in an interview published on Wednesday."

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Indian real estate: time to pile in, thanks to the falling rupee? | beyondbrics

As the Indian rupee hits record lows against the dollar, there are all sorts of knock-on effects. Perhaps take a holiday to India or remit savings to relatives in the country where the dollar goes much further?

Or perhaps invest in property? Jones Lang La Salle, the property services company, expects Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will take advantage of the cheap rupee by investing in real estate.

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Ukraine-Macroeconomic situation – May 2013 : Ukraine News by UNIAN

"The fragile external environment and weak bank lending activity continued to be a drag on economic growth in Ukraine. Weakness in external demand, feeble industrial...
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The "Ukraine - Macroeconomic Situation - May 2013" analytical report prepared by the SigmaBleyzer private equity investment firm,, and The Bleyzer Foundation (TBF),, Kyiv, Ukraine, members of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC),, is found below."
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Ukranian News - Russia To Impose Extra Import Duties On Chocolate, Coal And Glass From Ukraine In Response To Special Duties On Importation Of Cars

"Russia is likely to impose extra import duties on chocolate, coal and glass from Ukraine as a response measure to Ukraine's imposition of the special duty on importation of cars at the rate of 6.5-13%, reads a notification the Russian delegation to the World Trade Organization has published at the WTO website.
Russia intends to impose import duties on chocolate at the rate of EUR 0.1 per kilogramme, on coal at 54% of the customs value, and on glass at 15% of the customs value.
The Russian party assures that annual receipts from these duties will be equal to the losses from Ukraine's imposition of special duties on importation of cars: USD 36.216 million."

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Guest post: triangulating a truer course through emerging markets | beyondbrics

"Where can you find a car market which will double in size in the next five years? Brazil and Russia might be obvious places to look, but would you have expected Chile, Colombia, the Ukraine and Vietnam? Picking the next big themes in emerging consumer markets is even harder than in the well-researched developed world. To get a better handle, we think, requires a triangular approach.

Traditional methods of filtering out consumer plays from emerging market indices will concentrate undue attention on companies with entrenched market positions, often merely throwing up yesterday’s winners. We believe a better way is to approach the process from several angles. The best outcomes will then be where they all converge, rather like a navigator taking several bearings from a ship to find its position in order to navigate unknown waters."

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Interactive: Track The Rupee’s Rise and Fall - India Real Time - WSJ (Click thru for chart)

"The line on the graph may be going up, but that means the value of the Indian rupee has been on the way down in recent months. In fact it has fallen nearly 35% against the U.S. dollar since the end of 2007.

Our rupee tracker tool allows you to monitor the Indian currency’s pulse over the past four-and-a-half years, day by day in the recent few months, and up to the last few minutes. Zoom in to see just how low it’s gone against the dollar since May.

The chart also enables you to look back at a time when capital inflows continued to gush into emerging markets including India, pushing the rupee to multi-year highs."

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UAE markets end in positive territory |

"The UAE markets consolidated Sunday’s gains on Tuesday, ending in the postitive territory yet again, ahead of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan and the announcement of second quarter corporate earnings later this month.
In Dubai, the DFM index closed 0.15 per cent higher at 2,343.98, while the Abu Dhabi Securities General Index ended 1.01 per cent higher at 3,681.69 as investors built new positions ahead of a potential market rally in the days ahead.
In view of the US Federal Reserve planning to scale back its $85 billion-a-month quantitative easing programme later this year, the regional markets, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s, are widely tipped to become the beneficiaries of foreign institutional investors pulling funds out of other emerging markets should the region’s geopolitical stability hold, according to market experts."

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Perception of corruption on the rise in Arab Spring countries - The National

"Perceived corruption has risen in several Arab Spring countries in the past two years, according to a new survey by Transparency International.

The findings by the anti-graft watchdog suggest the wave of uprisings in the region since late 2010 have done little to curb levels of bribery and other corruption.

A total of 37 per cent of respondents surveyed in Egypt said they felt corruption had greatly increased in the past two years. About 61 per cent gave the same response in Tunisia, 57 per cent in Algeria and 29 per cent in Libya."

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Government seeks assurance from Jet Airways on deal with Etihad as operations shift to Abu Dhabi - The Economic Times

"Spooked by the move to shift key operations of Jet AirwaysBSE -2.38 % to Abu Dhabi, the government will insist that the airline promises to adhere to all Indian laws, rules and regulations, if it wants approval for selling a 24% stake to Etihad.

A senior official, who did not wish to be named, said the government was specifically seeking this assurance as the Jet-Etihad investment proposal says the operations and 'revenue headquarters' of India's largest private airline will be shifted to Abu Dhabi and it will be subject to UAE laws.

This has set alarm bells ringing in the government, and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board - the nodal agency for approving foreign investment proposals - has directed the airline to clearly mention in its revised application that it will comply with local laws as well as with the country's foreign direct investment policy. This could further add to the regulatory complications the deal is already facing."

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Saudi Gazette - NCB’s net income rises 21.4% in H1

"The National Commercial Bank (NCB) announced Tuesday that its net income for the first half of 2013 reached SR4,324 million compared to SR3,562 million for the same period of the previous year, an increase of 21.4 percent. Net income for the second quarter amounted to SR1,992 million, which compares to SR1,608 million for the same quarter of the previous year, an increase of 23.9 percent.

Mansour Al-Maiman, NCB’s Chairman, said the bank’s growth and diversity of its financing and investment products has contributed to an increase in net special commission income by 12.6 percent and an increase of 3.6 percent in fee income from banking services, compared to the same period of the previous year.

He added that the bank’s total assets grew to reach SR363 billion compared to SR320 billion at the end of the same period of the previous year, an increase of 13.2 percent. Total shareholders’ equity reached SR41.6 billion compared to SR36.8 billion at end of the same period of the previous year, an increase of 13 percent. Earnings per share reached SR2.9 compared to SR2.4 at the end of the same period of the previous year."

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