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Thursday, 31 December 2015

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets end grim year mixed, signs 2016 may be better | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets end grim year mixed, signs 2016 may be better | Reuters:

"Middle Eastern stock markets ended a grim year with mixed performances on Thursday, but there were signs they could fare better in 2016.

Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Egypt and other regional bourses were caught in an emerging market downturn this year and the Gulf was hit by shrinking oil revenues, while a severe foreign exchange shortage plagued Egypt.

There is likely to be more pain ahead. Gulf governments are starting to cut spending in response to cheap oil, which will hurt economic growth next year, while the reduction in oil revenues is pushing up market interest rates. Investors in Egypt have been disappointed by faltering economic reforms."



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Taqa gets US approval to sell stake in wind project | GulfNews.com

Taqa gets US approval to sell stake in wind project | GulfNews.com:

"Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) has won US approval to sell its stake in the operator of a 205.5 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Minnesota to Qatar-based private equity fund Nebras Power QSC.

Nebras will buy a 50 per cent stake in LWP Lessee, the manager and operator of the Lakefield wind project, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling Wednesday. Terms of the deal, which are yet to be finalised, were not disclosed, a report by Bloomberg said.

Qatar Electricity & Water Co. QSC owns 60 per cent of Nebras. Qatar Petroleum International Ltd and Qatar Holding LLC each hold 20 per cent stakes in the company."



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Challenging year ahead for UAE equities | GulfNews.com

Challenging year ahead for UAE equities | GulfNews.com:

"Investors in the UAE’s equity markets can expect another volatile year ahead where oil prices, geopolitical tension, government policies, and actions from the US Federal Reserve will continue to define sentiment, analysts said.

With Brent oil prices currently hovering around the $36 (Dh132) a barrel level and supply still flooding the market, analysts said such fluctuations will continue to take a toll in 2016 on equities despite essentially strong fundamentals.

Analysts also expected negative sentiment to overpower attractive valuations on the short and medium terms."



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Saudi stock market says aiming to float itself in 2018 | Reuters

Saudi stock market says aiming to float itself in 2018 | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's Tadawul stock market said on Thursday that it planned to launch its own initial share sale in 2018.

The initial public offering will be launched after the readiness exercise is completed and necessary approvals are obtained, it said in a bourse statement.

The kingdom's stock market, by far the largest in the Gulf Arab region with a market capitalisation of 1.57 trillion riyals ($418.5 billion), said in 2014 that it was looking to go public, without giving a timeframe for the flotation. ($1 = 3.7519 riyals) "



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Malaysia Anti-Graft Agency Submits Probe Results of Najib Funds - Bloomberg Business

Malaysia Anti-Graft Agency Submits Probe Results of Najib Funds - Bloomberg Business:

"Malaysia’s anti-graft agency submitted results to the attorney general of a probe into hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private accounts before the 2013 general elections.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said it made several proposals and recommendations for action in the case, according to a statement Thursday. While it has completed investigations involving witnesses in the country, the MACC said it still needs permission from the attorney general to get documents and evidence from overseas financial institutions.
"This evidence can only be taken by the Mutual Legal Assistance process because it is tied to the provision of banking legislation of the country concerned," the agency said. "MACC has made an application under the MLA to attorney general to obtain documents and evidence.""



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Here's One Part of Saudi Stock Market Thriving Despite Low Oil - Bloomberg Business

Here's One Part of Saudi Stock Market Thriving Despite Low Oil - Bloomberg Business:

"For all the pain low oil prices are causing Saudi Arabia’s financial markets, at least one area is flourishing.
The number of active initial public offering-focused funds in the kingdom more than doubled in 2015, as investors respond to the nation’s efforts to develop its capital markets and boost participation from institutions. The funds managed more than 4.9 billion riyals ($1.3 billion) as of Wednesday, compared with almost 2 billion riyals at the end of last year."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi opens weak as petchems soft; Egypt continues rally | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi opens weak as petchems soft; Egypt continues rally | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market opened weak on Thursday as petrochemical firms remained soft following gas feedstock price rises in Monday's 2016 state budget. Egypt's bourse continued rallying after breaking technical resistance.

The Saudi index was 0.2 percent lower after 40 minutes of trade as the petrochemical sector index slipped a further 0.5 percent.

The biggest stock in the sector, Saudi Basic Industries , was flat but Saudi Kayan lost 2.2 percent and PetroRabigh SE> fell 2.4 percent after saying it would restart only gradually its high-olefin fluid catalytic cracker and subordinate units after an extended maintenance period. It estimated the cost of the extra maintenance at 200 million riyals ($53.3 million)."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets open soft, Dubai focuses on speculative plays | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets open soft, Dubai focuses on speculative plays | Reuters:

"Most Gulf stock markets opened soft on Thursday with very few new incentives to trade and Dubai focusing on low-priced shares favoured by short-term speculators.

The Dubai index fell 0.7 percent with seven of the 10 most heavily traded stocks priced below 1 dirham, including GFH Financial, the most active share, which lost 0.2 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index was flat as First Gulf Bank dropped 0.4 percent but National Bank of Abu Dhabi climbed 0.6 percent."



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Mideast funds more bullish on stocks, bearish on bonds -survey | Reuters

Mideast funds more bullish on stocks, bearish on bonds -survey | Reuters:

"Middle East fund managers have become more positive on regional equities with a strong bias towards the United Arab Emirates, and more bearish on bonds, a monthly Reuters survey shows.

The survey of 14 leading fund managers, conducted over the past 10 days, found 50 percent expecting to raise their regional equity allocations in the next three months, and 14 percent expecting to cut them - the largest bullish balance since February 2014.

In last month's survey, 29 percent anticipated increasing equity exposure and 21 percent expected to reduce it."



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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Six Charts of Christmas: The US exception | Authers' Note - YouTube

Six Charts of Christmas: The US exception | Authers' Note - YouTube: ""



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Oman to raise tax and cut subsidies as oil rout hits sultanate hard | The National

Oman to raise tax and cut subsidies as oil rout hits sultanate hard | The National:

"Oman will trim spending, cut subsidies and raise corporation tax as it seeks to curtail the effect of the oil-price rout that has hit the sultanate harder than neighbouring Arabian Gulf states.

This is the latest in a series of belt-tightening budgets in the Gulf, as the region’s oil producers wrestle with Brent prices near an 11-year low.

“The council of ministers approved a number of procedures to face the impact of lower oil prices in order to ensure the sustainability of the financial situation of the state,” ONA, the Omani state news agency, said on Wednesday."



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Abu Dhabi Global Market brings in ‘transparent regulations and rules’ | The National

Abu Dhabi Global Market brings in ‘transparent regulations and rules’ | The National:

"Abu Dhabi Global Market, the capital’s new financial free zone, has put in place another layer of the legal infrastructure essential for its independent courts system.

ADGM announced it has enacted regulations on civil evidence, judgments, enforcement and judicial appointments, supporting its existing rules and arbitration regulations.

The chief justice, David Hope, also enacted rules covering judicial conduct and complaints against judicial officers."



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Burgan Bank sells majority stake in Jordanian bank to parent firm | GulfNews.com

Burgan Bank sells majority stake in Jordanian bank to parent firm | GulfNews.com:

"Kuwait’s Burgan Bank said on Wednesday it would sell its controlling stake in Jordan Kuwait Bank to another subsidiary of parent firm Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO).

The deal, involving Jordan’s fourth-largest bank by assets according to Thomson Reuters data, is part of a series of steps being taken to boost Burgan’s capital in preparation for the introduction of the Basel III global finance rules, Burgan said in a bourse filing.

The transaction will reduce Burgan’s risk-weighted assets by more than 500 million dinars ($1.65 billion; Dh6.1 billion) and enhance the total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of Kuwait’s third-largest bank by assets to over 15 per cent at the end of 2015."



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Saudi finance minister plans VAT in 2 years -newspaper | GulfNews.com

Saudi finance minister plans VAT in 2 years -newspaper | GulfNews.com:

"Saudi Arabian finance minister Ebrahim Al Assaf said the kingdom expects to introduce value-added tax in two years, aiming for a tax rate of around 5 per cent, the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“VAT will be introduced gradually and be completed within two years, which is the time set for application in GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries in 2018. It will be around 5 per cent, which is the lowest worldwide,” Alassaf was quoted as saying.

In its 2016 state budget announcement earlier this week, the ministry said it planned to introduce VAT in coordination with other countries in the region."



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Recession, retrenchment, revolution? Impact of low crude prices on oil powers | Business | The Guardian

Recession, retrenchment, revolution? Impact of low crude prices on oil powers | Business | The Guardian:

"A glut of oil, the demise of Opec and weakening global demand combined to make 2015 the year of crashing oil prices. The cost of crude fell to levels not seen for 11 years – and the decline may have further to go.

There have been four sharp increases in the price of oil in the past four decades – in 1973, 1979, 1990 and 2008 – and each has led to a global recession. By that measure, a lower oil price should be positive for the world economy, with lower fuel costs for consumers and businesses in those countries that import crude outweighing the losses to producing nations.

But the evidence since oil prices started falling from their peak of $115 a barrel in August 2014 has not supported that thesis – or not yet. Oil producers have certainly felt the impact of the lower prices on their growth rates, their trade figures and their public finances butthere has been no surge in consumer spending or business investment elsewhere."



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Global growth will be disappointing in 2016 - IMF's Lagarde | Reuters

Global growth will be disappointing in 2016 - IMF's Lagarde | Reuters:

"Global economic growth will be disappointing next year and the outlook for the medium-term has also deteriorated, the head of the International Monetary Fund said in a guest article for German newspaper Handelsblatt published on Wednesday.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the prospect of rising interest rates in the United States and an economic slowdown in China were contributing to uncertainty and a higher risk of economic vulnerability worldwide.

Added to that, growth in global trade has slowed considerably and a decline in raw material prices is posing problems for economies based on these, while the financial sector in many countries still has weaknesses and financial risks are rising in emerging markets, she said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Petrochemicals pull Saudi down; Egypt breaks resistance | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petrochemicals pull Saudi down; Egypt breaks resistance | Reuters:

"Petrochemical stocks pulled Saudi Arabia's main equity index down on Wednesday in the wake of gas feedstock price rises in the 2016 state budget, while Egypt's market rose in a broad-based rally, breaking technical resistance.

The Saudi index, which had dropped 0.9 percent on Tuesday in an initial reaction to the budget's austerity measures, fell a further 0.4 percent.

Saudi companies have begun estimating the impact on their cost bases of energy and feedstock price rises in the budget. Petrochemical producers are hardest hit, with Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) projecting an 8-percent rise in its 2016 costs."



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Saudi GDP growth of 2.3% in 2016 slowest since 2009 - Saudi Gazette

Saudi GDP growth of 2.3% in 2016 slowest since 2009 - Saudi Gazette:

"Moderation in the Saudi business cycle is the most likely outcome over a five-year forecast horizon with real GDP expected to average below 3% per annum, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) said on its “Saudi Arabia’s 2016 Budget Report” issued Tuesday a day after the announcement of the new Saudi budget.

As for 2016, the NCB report projected a real GDP growth of 2.3%, the slowest pace since 2009.

The oil sector will be a drag especially with no expected increase in crude production  that will stabilize around 10.2 mmbd."



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Turkey and Saudi Arabia strengthen alliance against Russia | Russia Beyond the Headlines

Turkey and Saudi Arabia strengthen alliance against Russia | Russia Beyond the Headlines:

"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began on Dec. 29 a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, the country that has recently announced a coalition to fight Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

The alliance formed by Riyadh runs counter to Russian interests, as it aims to overthrow Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, something that Erdogan fully agrees with.

But Ankara and Riyadh are united not only by the desire to change the government in Syria; they could have a common enemy in Russia."



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Outlook for oil hit by Saudi Arabia budget cuts - FT.com

Outlook for oil hit by Saudi Arabia budget cuts - FT.com:

"The outlook for the oil price next year is under renewed pressure following strong signals from Saudi Arabia that the world’s largest crude exporter is preparing for a long period of low returns and amid expectations that Iran will further flood the global market when sanctions are lifted.
Analysts said plans announced by Saudi Arabia late on Monday to reduce a budget deficit of nearly $98bn through spending cuts, reforms to energy subsidies and a privatisation drive were a sign that Riyadh intends to stick with its policy of not cutting output. It also shows that Opec’s de facto leader is prepared to accept cheap prices for its crude as it seeks to put pressure on higher cost rivals such as US shale producers and waits for the market to rebalance."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed in quiet, early trade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed in quiet, early trade | Reuters:

"Gulf stock markets were mixed in quiet, early trade on Wednesday amid soft oil and global equities prices.

Dubai's index was up 0.9 percent after 45 minutes of trade with GFH Financial, the most heavily traded stock, up 2.4 percent.

GFH said it was suspending its decision to delist from the Kuwait Stock Exchange after Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority relaxed corporate disclosure rules. Its Kuwaiti-listed shares climbed 2.5 percent, helping Kuwait's main stock index rise 0.3 percent."



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In World With Too Much Crude Oil, 1,100-Foot Steel Monsters Rule - Bloomberg Business

In World With Too Much Crude Oil, 1,100-Foot Steel Monsters Rule - Bloomberg Business:

"The most destructive oil crash in a generation is giving ship owners a billion-dollar windfall.
With the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries abandoning output limits in a drive for market share, ships that carry as much as 2 million barrels a trip are in demand to haul crude from the Middle East to Asia and North America. While oil prices fell about 35 percent in 2015, average earnings for these carriers jumped to $67,366 a day, the most since at least 2009, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.
“The stars are aligned for us right now,” Nikolas Tsakos, the chief executive officer of Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd., said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York offices, adding that falling oil prices will likely stimulate demand and cargoes next year."



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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

UAE hotel sector performance to be lower in 2016 | GulfNews.com

UAE hotel sector performance to be lower in 2016 | GulfNews.com:

"The performance of the UAE’s hotel sector is likely to weaken year-on-year in 2016 as new hotel room supply and macroeconomic factors put pressure on room rates and occupancy, according to industry experts.

The hotel sector in Dubai has seen declining rates and occupancy this year because of factors including growing supply, the weakening of the rouble and euro against the strong US dollar to which the UAE dirham is pegged, and lower oil prices, which have made a holiday in the UAE more expensive for some travellers from Russia and Europe.

Rashid Aboobacker, associate director at TRI Consulting in Dubai, said that hotels in the capital saw growth in performance indicators, such as occupancy and room rates, this year compared to 2014."



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Gulf economies embark on reforms as oil prices plunge | GulfNews.com

Gulf economies embark on reforms as oil prices plunge | GulfNews.com:

"Gulf countries are undertaking reforms to cut subsidies and increase fuel prices as oil hovers near eleven year lows on abundant supply and slowing demand.

Bahrain will be increasing fuel prices starting from Friday, according to Bahrain News Agency. They haven’t mentioned how much the increase would be but said the new move would contribute to providing financial savings and rationalising energy consumption.

Bahrain becomes the third country in the Gulf region to bring in reforms in the energy sector after UAE and Saudi Arabia."



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Oil ends up 3 percent on cold; glut worry persists longer term | Reuters

Oil ends up 3 percent on cold; glut worry persists longer term | Reuters:

"Oil jumped more than $1 a barrel on Tuesday as colder weather prompted buying a day after prices slid 3 percent, but slowing global demand and abundant supplies from OPEC members will continue to pressure the market, traders said.

Global oil benchmark Brent and U.S. crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose about 3 percent or more, after weather forecasts showed the United States may get some cold winter temperatures following an unusually balmy autumn.

Expectations of a drawdown last week in U.S. crude inventories also fed the rally. A Reuters poll suggested that stockpiles fell 2.5 million barrels last week ahead of inventory reports from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the government-run Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. [EIA/S]"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares fall but ends off lows as budget introduces austerity | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares fall but ends off lows as budget introduces austerity | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock index fell but closed well off its lows on Tuesday after the 2016 state budget introduced spending cuts, rises in fuel, natural gas feedstock and electricity prices, and tax hikes. Other markets in the region were mixed.

Analysts welcomed the budget as showing the government's willingness to adopt difficult reforms to address a huge deficit caused by low oil prices. As such, it could help to sustain confidence in the riyal's peg to the U.S. dollar.

"It is a step in the right direction, as these steps will not bring the budget into balance again but do help to improve the fiscal sustainability of the country and its ability to withstand low oil prices now and in the future," said Jaap Meijer, managing director for equity research at Arqaam Capital in Dubai."



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Saudi Arabia stocks fall sharply on tax rises

- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35188807

Six Charts of Christmas: Valuation - YouTube

Six Charts of Christmas: Valuation - YouTube: ""



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Saudi budget prioritizes citizens with education, development funds - Al Arabiya News

Saudi budget prioritizes citizens with education, development funds - Al Arabiya News:

"Saudi Arabia unveiled on Monday its general budget for the fiscal year 2016 with total revenues estimated at SR513.8 billion ($136.9 billion), expenditures budgeted at SR840 billion and fiscal shortfall projected at SR326.2 billion.

Education and training received the highest allocation of SR191.659 billion, followed by health and social development with an allocation of SR104.864 billion. Other allocations included municipality services (SR21.246 billion), military and security services (SR213.367 billion), infrastructure and transportation (SR23.903 billion), economic resources (SR78.121 billion), public administration (SR23.840 billion), and budget support provision (SR183 billion).

Due to the recent excessive volatility of oil prices and to address potentially declining revenues, a budget support provision of SR183 billion has been established to offer increased flexibility to redirect capital expenditures and operating expenditures on both ongoing and new projects according to national developmental priorities and to meet any emerging expenditure needs in line with mechanisms and procedures of relevant royal decrees, said the Finance Ministry in a press release."



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Shale's Running Out of Survival Tricks as OPEC Ramps Up Pressure - Bloomberg Business

Shale's Running Out of Survival Tricks as OPEC Ramps Up Pressure - Bloomberg Business:

"In 2015, the fracking outfits that dot America’s oil-rich plains threw everything they had at $50-a-barrel crude. To cope with the 50 percent price plunge, they laid off thousands of roughnecks, focused their rigs on the biggest gushers only and used cutting-edge technology to squeeze all the oil they could out of every well. Those efforts, to the surprise of many observers, largely succeeded. As of this month, U.S. oil output remained within 4 percent of a 43-year high.
The problem? Oil’s no longer at $50. It now trades near $35.
For an industry that already was pushing its cost-cutting efforts to the limits, the new declines are a devastating blow. These drillers are “not set up to survive oil in the $30s,” said R.T. Dukes, a senior upstream analyst for Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston."



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GCC stocks plunge after Saudi budget announcement | GulfNews.com

GCC stocks plunge after Saudi budget announcement | GulfNews.com:

"The GCC equity markets fell in early trade on Tuesday, with Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index leading the losses as it plunged 3.23 per cent to reach 6,766.56 following the announcement on the Saudi government’s budget deficits.

Meanwhile, the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) index fell 0.78 per cent to reach 3,095, with the index reaching a low of 3,078 just an hour after trade opened. Also in the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index fell 0.63 per cent to reach 4,225.24.

Elsewhere in the GCC, markets were also in the red as Bahrain Bourse’s index slid 0.42 per cent to reach 1,199.34, and Qatar’s QE index dropped 1.16 per cent to reach 10,277.42.

"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE, Qatar move little in early trade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE, Qatar move little in early trade | Reuters:

"Stock markets in the United Arab Emirates barely moved in early trade on Tuesday with volumes thinned by the absence of many foreign investors due to year-end holidays.

Dubai's index edged down 0.7 percent in a broad-based decline although Gulf Navigation bucked the trend, climbing 1.3 percent.

The Abu Dhabi index inched up 0.01 percent as National Bank of Fujairah, which rarely trades, jumped 14.9 percent in unusually heavy volume."



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Iran Adding to Global Oil Glut Dims Hopes for Recovery Next Year - Bloomberg Business

Iran Adding to Global Oil Glut Dims Hopes for Recovery Next Year - Bloomberg Business:

"Investors are losing faith in an oil-price recovery next year as Iran prepares to add more crude to a global glut. That’s good news for American drivers who have enjoyed the lowest gasoline prices in six years.
Hedge funds reduced bets on rising prices to a three-month low and kept bearish wagers near a record high in the week ended Dec. 22, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission show. "



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Monday, 28 December 2015

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi mkt positive ahead of budget; Dubai blue chips sell-off | News by Country | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi mkt positive ahead of budget; Dubai blue chips sell-off | News by Country | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's bourse garnered solid gains on Monday ahead of the unveiling of the kingdom's 2016 budget, with investors betting on stocks expected to benefit from new economic policy including subsidy cuts, while other markets were mixed.

Saudi Arabia posted a 2015 budget deficit of 367 billion riyals ($97.9 billion) while spending rose 13 percent above the original 2015 budget plan, according to an advisor to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, speaking about 30 minutes prior to the market closing.

This deficit was below the expected 400-500 billion riyals that was predicted by Saudi economists, but still makes up around 15 percent of gross domestic product."



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More public borrowings on cards | GulfNews.com

More public borrowings on cards | GulfNews.com:

"In order to bridge its fiscal deficit Saudi Arabia is expected to use a combination of revenues from assets held overseas, official reserves and market borrowings.

This year, the Kingdom tapped into its sizeable reserves. Reserves dropped to under $670 billion (Dh2.4 trillion) in July 2015 from $746 billion in August 2014. The Saudi government also resumed long-term debt issuances for the first time since 2007, with total issuances 95 billion riyals (Dh93 billion) so far. According to recent press reports, the government is planning issuance of local currency bonds worth 20 billion riyals.

The new issues will bring to 115 billion riyals the amount of bonds issued by the government to local banks this year. It resumed issuing bonds to banks in July for the first time since 2007 to cover a budget deficit created by low oil prices.

"



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Spending cuts likely to reduce credit growth | GulfNews.com

Spending cuts likely to reduce credit growth | GulfNews.com:

"The spending cuts announced by Saudi Arabia in its 2016 budget is expected to impact credit growth in the country as non-oil activity continues to slow.

Countercyclical government spending has historically played a key role in the stability and dynamism of private-sector companies in Saudi Arabia, supporting banks’ credit growth.

Following the recent period of robust growth in public expenditure, the government in Saudi Arabia is now planning to moderate the pace of such spending expansion due to the persistent drop in oil revenues. Analysts said a combination of more expensive credit and more frugal governments will result in slow credit demand from the private sector."



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Saudi Arabia’s 840 billion riyal budget slashes spending | GulfNews.com

Saudi Arabia’s 840 billion riyal budget slashes spending | GulfNews.com:

"Saudi Arabia’s economy, hit hard by a sharp decline in oil prices, on Monday an announced 840 billion riyal (Dh822 billion) spending plan for 2016.

The budget deficits for 2015 soared to 367 billion riyals this year. The government plans to cut the deficits to 326 billion riyals (13 per cent of GDP) in 2016 through a combination of spending cuts and augmenting of additional revenue sources other than oil, the finance ministry said, adding that it would review government projects to make them more efficient and ensure they were necessary and affordable.

Next year’s budget projects spending of 840 billion riyals is down from 975 billion spent this year. The original budget plan for 2015 projected a spend of 860 billion riyals. However the actual spending last year was 14.5 per cent less than 2014’s spend of 1.14 trillion riyals."



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Saudi Arabia posts record $98 billion deficit in 2015: ministry | GulfNews.com

Saudi Arabia posts record $98 billion deficit in 2015: ministry | GulfNews.com:

"Saudi Arabia posted a record $98 billion budget deficit in 2015 due to the sharp fall in oil prices, the finance ministry said on Monday.

Revenues were estimated at 608 billion riyals ($162 billion), well below projections and 2014 income, while spending came in at 975 billion riyals ($260 billion), ministry officials announced at a press conference in Riyadh."



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Kazakhstan Looks to Private Equity for Help With Its $93 Billion Cash Pile - Bloomberg Business

Kazakhstan Looks to Private Equity for Help With Its $93 Billion Cash Pile - Bloomberg Business:

"KKR & Co. founder Henry Kravis, Blackstone Group LP Chairman Stephen Schwarzman and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein were among the guests when Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev hosted a dinner in New York.
Apart from the dining at the Four Seasons Hotel, there was access to a possible $93 billion on the table as Nazarbayev, who presides over Central Asia’s biggest energy exporter, seeks to boost returns on the country’s wealth funds. The $64 billion National Fund has struggled to achieve an average of 2 percent annually for the past five years.
After President Nazarbayev, who spoke about investment opportunities in Kazakhstan and institutional reforms the nation embarked on this year, speakers from the U.S. including former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took the floor to talk about global geopolitical and economic challenges."



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Saudis Plan Unprecedented Subsidy Cuts to Counter Oil Plunge - Bloomberg Business

Saudis Plan Unprecedented Subsidy Cuts to Counter Oil Plunge - Bloomberg Business:

"Confronting a drop in oil prices and mounting regional turmoil, Saudi Arabia reduced energy subsidies and allocated the biggest part of government spending in next year’s budget to defense and security.
Authorities announced increases to the prices of fuel, electricity and water as part of a plan to restructure subsidies within five years. The government intends to cut spending next year and gradually privatize some state-owned entities and introduce value-added taxation as well as a levy on tobacco.
The biggest shake-up of Saudi economic policy in recent history coincides with growing regional unrest, including a war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling pro-Iranian Shiite rebels. In attempting to reduce its reliance on oil, the kingdom is seeking to put an end to the population’s dependence on government handouts, a move that political analysts had considered risky after the 2011 revolts that swept parts of the Middle East.
"



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Oil companies brace for a grim 2016 amid sustained price crash - FT.com

Oil companies brace for a grim 2016 amid sustained price crash - FT.com:

"As a miserable year for the oil industry draws to a close, any relief executives might feel will be tempered by the knowledge that 2016 is shaping up to be even worse.
The collapse in oil and gas prices that began in the summer of last year has already cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, and caused projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars to be cancelled or delayed. Today, the external environment is more challenging than it was a year ago, and the energy companies’ ability to cope with tough conditions is diminished. For oil and gas producers, 2016 will be a year of cost-cutting, restructuring, refinancing when it is possible, and in some cases bankruptcy when it is not. Merger and acquisition activity, which was sluggish this year because of disagreements over valuations, may pick up speed."



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Saudis unveil radical austerity programme - FT.com

Saudis unveil radical austerity programme - FT.com:

"Saudi Arabia on Monday unveiled spending cuts in its 2016 budget, subsidy reforms and a call for privatisations to rein in a yawning deficit caused by the prolonged period of low oil prices.
The Gulf kingdom has kept oil production at high levels in an attempt to force out higher-cost producers, such as shale, and retain its market share. But this year’s deficit ballooned to 367bn Saudi riyals ($97.9bn,) or 15 per cent of gross domestic product, as oil revenues fell 23 per cent to Sr444.5bn. Seeking to ward off future fiscal crises, the ministry of finance confirmed wide-ranging economic reforms, including plans to “privatise a range of sectors and economic activities”."



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Saudi Arabia reveals cuts plan to shrink £66bn budget deficit | World news | The Guardian

Saudi Arabia reveals cuts plan to shrink £66bn budget deficit | World news | The Guardian:

"Saudi Arabia has announced plans to cut government spending and reform its finances after plunging oil prices resulted in a record annual budget deficit of nearly $98bn (£66bn).

The state ran a deficit of 367bn riyals ($97.9bn) in 2015, or 15% of gross domestic product, officials said. The 2016 budget plan aims to cut that to 326bn riyals, reducing pressure on Riyadh to pay its bills by liquidating assets held abroad.

The 2016 budget, released by the finance ministry on Monday, marked the biggest shake-up to economic policy in the world’s top crude exporter for more than a decade, and includes politically sensitive reforms from which authorities previously shied away."



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RPT-Middle East misses out on M&A boom as sellers hold out on prices | Reuters

RPT-Middle East misses out on M&A boom as sellers hold out on prices | Reuters:

"A global boom in mergers and acquisitions has largely bypassed the Middle East where regional deals are stalling as sellers refuse to budge on valuations despite a slumping oil price.

While a flurry of big deals pushed global M&A volume in 2015 to a record $4.6 trillion, transactions between parties in the Middle East totalled just $12.68 billion in the year to Dec. 7, according to Thomson Reuters data.

That would make it the slowest year in value terms since 2011, while the actual number of deals is on course to be the lowest since 2007."



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Six Charts of Christmas: Market breadth - YouTube

Six Charts of Christmas: Market breadth - YouTube: ""



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Electricity surges before budget on price reform hopes | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Electricity surges before budget on price reform hopes | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market was generally little changed early on Monday as traders cautiously awaited the release of the kingdom's 2016 state budget, while Egypt recouped some of previous session's losses.

The Saudi index rose in the opening minutes but then came well off its highs and after 80 minutes of trade, was up just 0.2 percent.

However, Saudi Electricity Co (STC) and National Gas and Industrialization Co surged 9.9 and 6.8 percent respectively. The budget may include rises in electricity and natural gas feedstock prices, which could boost the bottom lines of Saudi Electricity while squeezing petrochemical firms."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Regional investors sell in Dubai; Qatar and Abu Dhabi steady | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Regional investors sell in Dubai; Qatar and Abu Dhabi steady | Reuters:

"Dubai's stock market slipped early on Monday as regional investors diverted their attention to Saudi Arabia's 2016 state budget announcement, due in the afternoon, while Qatar and Abu Dhabi were steady in lethargic trade.

Late on Sunday, Dubai announced plans to raise state spending by 12 percent in 2016 compared to its 2015 budget plan as it invests in infrastructure to sustain economic growth, while continuing to balance its budget.

This failed to boost Dubai's stock index, which fell 0.9 percent as only one-third of listed stocks traded. Emaar Properties and Arabtec retreated 2.4 percent and 0.7 percent respectively."



'via Blog this'

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Opec could gain from aggressive increase in output | The National

Opec could gain from aggressive increase in output | The National:

"Generals are said always to be preparing to fight the last war.

Opec, led by Saudi Arabia, is now re-fighting the campaign of 1986, with some signs of success. But does an entirely new battlefield demand a complete change of strategy – and, if so, what would that be?

As several recent publications – by Columbia University, Citigroup and a provocative new book by Roberto Aguilera and Marian Radetkzi – suggest, the new oil world is not a continuation of the last but something entirely different. The advent of North American shale means that oil production is essentially unlimited at a price of US$60 to $80 per barrel – and possibly less, as technology advances in this still-infant industry."



'via Blog this'

Iran oil minister denies heavy oil discounting as market share battle looms | The National

Iran oil minister denies heavy oil discounting as market share battle looms | The National:

"Iran’s oil minister yesterday denied his country is offering steep discounts to boost exports amid an intensifying battle for Asian market share.

As Iran prepares for the lifting of international sanctions related to its nuclear programme next year, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, the oil minister, told the government’s Islamic Republic News Agency (Irna) that the country would offer only “regular and customary” discounts to prospective customers.

He was responding to reports that Iran was discussing deep discounts with prospective buyers as it plans to increase exports from 1 million barrels per day – the level at which they have been capped since sanctions were put in place in 2011."



'via Blog this'

Oil drop threatens to push energy groups into liquidation - FT.com

Oil drop threatens to push energy groups into liquidation - FT.com:

"A growing number of energy companies that have filed or will soon file for bankruptcy court protection are likely to be liquidated, with their prospects diminished by the latest falls in natural gas and oil prices, according to distressed investors and restructuring advisers.
Companies that restructure crippling debt loads can often emerge from bankruptcy and start life anew, but with the latest fall in energy prices, even a freshly capitalised balance sheet may not be enough to save the company.  “Even if you take away all the debt, it is not clear some energy firms can operate,” said one restructuring specialist. “Their basic economics requires oil to be considerably north of where it is. They can’t reorganise.”"



'via Blog this'

Dubai budget emphasises social aspect of development | GulfNews.com

Dubai budget emphasises social aspect of development | GulfNews.com:

"The Dh46.1 billion annual budget of Dubai approved by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Sunday, focuses on maximum resource allocation social aspect of development in the emirate.

“The benefit of the budget has reflected the directives of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, who emphasised the need for attention to the social aspect and development of investment incentives, which contributed to the high ranking in global competitiveness,” said Abdul Rahman Saleh Al Saleh, Director General of Government of Dubai’s Department of finance.

The distribution of government expenditure focuses on human development. General and administrative expenses, capital expenditures and grants and subsidies accounted for 45 per cent of total government spending in 2016."



'via Blog this'

Saudi Aramco official, three ministers to speak on budget | Reuters

Saudi Aramco official, three ministers to speak on budget | Reuters:

"A senior official of state oil giant Saudi Aramco and the ministers of Economy and Planning, Finance, and Water and Electricity will appear at a news conference on Saudi Arabia's 2016 state budget on Monday, official sources said on Sunday.

The news conference is scheduled for 1200 GMT on Monday and details of the budget are expected to be announced at or shortly before that time.

The ministers are expected to give presentations on their parts of the budget. The Maaal financial website reported that Aramco would be represented by chief executive Amin Nasser."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets advance ahead of Saudi budget; Egypt hit by rate hike | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets advance ahead of Saudi budget; Egypt hit by rate hike | Reuters:

"Gulf stock markets edged higher on Sunday with Saudi Arabia rising in the final hour of trade as local traders bought back ahead of Monday's 2016 budget announcement. Egypt dropped in response to an interest rate hike.

The Saudi index closed 0.1 percent higher at 6,946 points, rebounding from a low of 6,874 points because of rises in stocks which investors hope will be largely unaffected by the Saudi budget, due to be announced on Monday afternoon.

To narrow a huge deficit caused by low oil prices, the budget is expected to contain spending cuts, possibly including a rise in natural gas feedstock prices for petrochemical producers such as Saudi Basic Industries. The stock fell 0.6 percent.

"



'via Blog this'

Surge in Etisalat shares expected to last well into 2016 | The National

Surge in Etisalat shares expected to last well into 2016 | The National:

"The stellar rise of Etisalat shares this year, on the back of the loosening of foreign ownership restrictions and the inclusion of the stock in MSCI’s emerging market index, could continue well into 2016 with its inclusion in FTSE indexes and the expectation of a higher dividend to shareholders.

According to investment bank EFG-Hermes, while Etisalat’s valuation is at “punchy” levels following its almost 61 per cent rally year to date, it sees “any sizeable correction in share price as an opportunity to invest in the stock” because of appealing fundamentals including “one of the most balanced combinations of value and growth”.

The Abu Dhabi share index is down 6.3 per cent for the year to date, in contrast as lower oil prices and weakening emerging market sentiment weighed."



'via Blog this'

Opec expects an oil future with smoother sailing | GulfNews.com

Opec expects an oil future with smoother sailing | GulfNews.com:

"The annual Opec’s World Oil Outlook (WOO) report has just been issued and gives pointers to the prospects for the energy industry in general and the oil market in particular up to the year 2040 as seen by researchers of the Secretariat.

Since the previous report which was issued in November 2014, oil prices have dropped from almost $80 (Dh294) a barrel to the current lows of $31.15 for the Opec basket of crude oils (ORB) and with persistent volatility expected to continue for some time to come. In his introduction to the report, Secretary-General Abdalla Salem Al Badri said: “The market instability has led to a number of projects being deferred or cancelled altogether, rig counts falling dramatically, costs being squeezed and redundancies being made. And the supply and demand balance in 2015 has been one of oversupply, with stock levels rising to well above the five-year average.”

This almost tells us the mood under which the report was prepared and that 2015 was a challenging year. In this column, the focus is on the oil market in general and succeeding ones will dwell on the other important aspects of energy markets and the downstream industry as well. The WOO ‘emphasises that oil will remain central to the global energy mix over the next 25 years”, with demand continuing to increase in developing countries and as the world’s population reaches a projected 9 billion and with an urbanisation of 63 per cent.

"



'via Blog this'

GCC banking sector outlook stable despite oil decline | GulfNews.com

GCC banking sector outlook stable despite oil decline | GulfNews.com:

" The performance of the banking sector in terms of loan growth, asset quality and profitability are expected to remain resilient in 2016 amid deteriorating operating environment leading to tightening liquidity, according to bankers and analysts.

“Despite the headwinds generated by low oil prices, we expect a broadly supportive operating environment for GCC banks in 2016 due to regional governments’ commitment to their countercyclical spending policies,” said Khalid Howladar, a Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s based in Dubai.

“Events such as the UAE Expo 2020 and World Cup Qatar 2022 are providing anchors for capital expenditures in addition to other key regional infrastructure projects.”

"



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi falls before budget, rate hike hits Egypt | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi falls before budget, rate hike hits Egypt | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market fell in early trade on Sunday ahead of the release of the state budget for 2016, while Egypt's market was hit by an interest rate hike.

The Saudi index fluctuated between positive and negative territory in the opening minutes before slipping 0.8 percent as the largest listed company, Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), fell 1.2 percent.

The Saudi budget, due to be announced on Monday afternoon, is expected to contain spending cuts, possibly including a rise in natural gas feedstock prices for petrochemical producers such as SABIC."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Blue chips push UAE, Qatar up in early trade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Blue chips push UAE, Qatar up in early trade | Reuters:

"Blue chips pushed stock markets in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar higher early on Sunday, with a 2.8 percent jump by Emaar Properties boosting Dubai's index by 1.4 percent.

Trading volumes were modest with some foreign investors away for Christmas and New Year holidays, and aggressive buying deterred by uncertainty over the Saudi Arabian state budget, due to be announced on Monday afternoon.

Property stocks also supported the Abu Dhabi benchmark , which edged up 0.1 percent as Aldar Properties , the most heavily traded share, climbed 0.9 percent."



'via Blog this'

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Hoping for a price surge, oil companies keep wells in reserve | GulfNews.com

Hoping for a price surge, oil companies keep wells in reserve | GulfNews.com:

"The price of oil keeps dropping. But that didn’t stop a work crew from drilling a well recently on what was once a cornfield, carefully guiding the last sections of 13,000 feet of pipe spiralling into the hard Niobrara shale with a diamond-tipped bit.

Their well, one of hundreds drilled by Anadarko Petroleum in eastern Colorado’s Wattenberg field this year, could someday gush as many as 800 barrels of crude oil a day. But Anadarko is not planning to produce a drop of crude from the well for at least another year because the price of oil is now so low.

The well here is just one of more than 4,000 drilled oil and natural gas wells across the country producing nothing, but ready to be tapped quickly."



'via Blog this'

Continued signs of strength in UAE markets | GulfNews.com

Continued signs of strength in UAE markets | GulfNews.com:

"Last week the Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) was up 64.25 or 2.09 per cent to close at 3,137.32. Even with the shortened four-day trading week volume managed to almost match the prior week’s level. Most issues participated in the rally, with 27 advancing and only eight declining.

We had bullish upside follow-through last week from the bounce that started two weeks ago off a strong long-term support zone. The 2,851.24 low from two weeks ago identifies the key medium-term support level now. Multiple indicators verify the significance of that low, with the odds that it will hold for at least the near-term strengthened given last week’s price action. This means that a rally of some note has a good chance of occurring, and that, if and when that low is broken a new long-term bearish signal will be indicated.

After dipping earlier in the week the DFMGI managed to close at a two-week high and in the top quarter of the week’s range. Near-term resistance is the high of the week at 3,173.1. A rally above that price level will give the next bullish signal, with the next key area to watch for resistance starting around the three-week high of 3,227, and going up to the five-week high around 3,302."



'via Blog this'

UAE investor outlook 2016: property, stocks, gold, personal debt, commodities | The National

UAE investor outlook 2016: property, stocks, gold, personal debt, commodities | The National:

"This year was tough for investors with volatile share prices, property market uncertainty and growing fears over China.

The UAE felt the impact as plunging oil and commodity stocks rattled the Middle East and spooked property investors.

Speculation leading up to the US Federal Reserve decision to finally raise interest rates only added to investor unease.

"



'via Blog this'

Ukraine Budget Vote Seeks to Clear Way for Next IMF Tranche - Bloomberg Business

Ukraine Budget Vote Seeks to Clear Way for Next IMF Tranche - Bloomberg Business:

"Ukraine’s parliament approved next year’s budget as it seeks to clear the way for the government to receive delayed funds from a $17.5 billion bailout to help the economy recover from recession.
The budget, a compromise between lawmakers and the cabinet, was passed by 263 votes in the 450-seat legislature. It envisages a shortfall of 3.7 percent of gross domestic product, in line with demands set out by the International Monetary Fund.
“The budget approval is an important step to receive the next tranche from the IMF and other international financial aid linked to it,” the Finance Ministry said early Friday in an e-mailed statement as debates dragged on until 4 a.m. in Kiev. “However, the IMF’s experts will analyze separately whether the budget meets IMF program criteria.”"



'via Blog this'

Egypt Raises Rates as Central Bank Sets Targets With Government - Bloomberg Business

Egypt Raises Rates as Central Bank Sets Targets With Government - Bloomberg Business:

"Egypt raised interest rates for the first time in more than a year in an attempt to curb inflation, and the central bank said it has agreed with the government to collaborate on designing policies that “will contribute positively to economic growth and job creation.”
The Monetary Policy Committee, headed by Governor Tarek Amer, increased the benchmark overnight deposit rate by 50 basis points to 9.25 percent, according to a statement on the central bank’s website. The overnight lending rate was also increased by the same amount to 10.25 percent. Headline urban inflation accelerated to 11.1 percent at the end of November, the highest in five months.
“The MPC judges that a rate hike is warranted to address inflationary pressures and anchor inflation expectations,” the bank said in the statement."



'via Blog this'

Gulf states must ramp up pace of economic reforms | GulfNews.com

Gulf states must ramp up pace of economic reforms | GulfNews.com:

"The Gulf countries have to make some tough economic choices in 2016, with the focus likely to be on ensuring steady reforms to circumvent the impact from the extraordinarily low oil prices. The prices have been declining for 18 consecutive months and, seemingly, with no end in sight.

Changes to oil prices — in either direction — have their impact on economic choices.

The petroleum sector is essential for the well-being of GCC economies, being the primary source for treasury and export revenues. In fact, oil revenues provide the necessary financing for public expenditures."



'via Blog this'

2015 the year of the dollar's reign, emerging market pain | Reuters

2015 the year of the dollar's reign, emerging market pain | Reuters:

"The dollar reigned supreme in 2015, having been pumped up all year by expectations of a rate rise the Federal Reserve finally delivered this week, while emerging markets, oil and metals have been the big losers.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against other top currencies, is up 10 percent for the year, after gaining nearly 13 percent in 2014."



'via Blog this'

Friday, 25 December 2015

US and UK stocks steady as holiday break begins - FT.com

US and UK stocks steady as holiday break begins - FT.com:

"Wall Street and London stocks were steady, pausing for breath after a few strong sessions in which rebounding oil prices boosted risk appetite and supported a seasonal stock market rally.
The dollar was softer and Treasury yields inched lower with trading volumes shrinking as the holidays began.Markets in Germany were closed on Christmas Eve, while many others, including London and New York, were open for just half a day. Most major financial centres — apart from Tokyo — are shut on Friday, Christmas Day."



'via Blog this'

Dubai hotels suffer holiday slowdown | The National

Dubai hotels suffer holiday slowdown | The National:

"The festive season may not feel so merry for the hotel sector.

A variety of global factors are likely to result in a softening of the market, with occupancy set to fall under 80 per cent in Dubai, according to analysts.

The economies of the Arabian Gulf states, traditionally a strong market for the holiday season, have been hit by declining oil prices, which fell to an 11-year low last week."



'via Blog this'

The new law that will help Dubai to keep on building | The National

The new law that will help Dubai to keep on building | The National:

"Low oil prices may have been the catalyst for the promulgation of the public-private partnership (PPP) law in Dubai but the legislation’s implementation is likely to hit snags even as the emirate seeks private sector partners and their ethos for some big ticket projects.

Through the law, Dubai will be able to invite private companies and investors to finance and operate assets that otherwise would have been funded by government budgets.

With oil prices dipping below US$40 a barrel this month, the time to rely on private sector money may be more urgent that ever before not only for the UAE but for all Arabian Gulf countries."



'via Blog this'

Thursday, 24 December 2015

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets boosted by firmer oil, gains in global equities | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets boosted by firmer oil, gains in global equities | Reuters:

"A rebound in oil prices and global equities boosted Middle East stock markets on Thursday, though trading volumes were modest because of the absence of many foreign investors for Christmas and the approach of Saudi Arabia's budget announcement.

The Saudi stock index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,942 points, closing well off its intra-day high of 6,999 points. Much activity focused on second- or third-tier speculative stocks favoured by local retail investors such as Saudi Printing and Packaging Co, up 9.4 percent, and Saudi Fisheries , up 1.9 percent.

Blue chips underperformed and petrochemical stocks were weak, with Saudi Basic Industries dropping 1.2 percent.

"



'via Blog this'

What were the best trades of 2015? | Authers' Note - YouTube

What were the best trades of 2015? | Authers' Note - YouTube: ""



'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Opec expects oil price at $70 per barrel in 2020 | GulfNews.com

Opec expects oil price at $70 per barrel in 2020 | GulfNews.com:

"It may take many years for oil prices to recover and reach the level of more than $110 per barrel witnessed in June 2014, according to World Oil Outlook Report released by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) released on Wednesday.

Opec expects the price of its basket of crudes to rise to $70 a barrel in 2020 and $95 a barrel in 2040, compared with$30.74 a barrel on Monday.

Oil prices have been falling continuously since last year as supply outstrips demand. From $115 per barrel in June last year, oil prices fell to less than $40 in recent times. Brent, the global benchmark, was trading at $36.63 per barrel on Wednesday at 4:32 UAE time."



'via Blog this'

The Oil Price Crash Is Taking a Heavy Toll On Canada. And the Worst Is Yet to Come - Bloomberg Business

The Oil Price Crash Is Taking a Heavy Toll On Canada. And the Worst Is Yet to Come - Bloomberg Business:

"Crime is rising, home prices are falling and food banks are overwhelmed in Calgary as job losses spread. And the worst isn’t yet over in the heart of Canada’s oil patch.
Some of the city’s largest employers are poised to cut more jobs in 2016 as they reduce spending for a second straight year, adding to an estimated 40,000 oil and natural gas positions lost across the nation since the crude price rout began 18 months ago.
“We all know someone who has lost a job,” Naheed Nenshi, the city’s mayor, said in a speech this month, lamenting the “funeral"-like atmosphere in the business community."



'via Blog this'

Saudi Stocks Sink as King Signals Changes to Government Spending - Bloomberg Business

Saudi Stocks Sink as King Signals Changes to Government Spending - Bloomberg Business:

"Saudi stocks declined after a speech by the king stoked speculation the Arab world’s biggest economy will probably cut spending next year as the plunge in oil prices pressures the nation’s finances.
The Tadawul All Share Index reversed gains of as much as 0.6 percent to close 1.6 percent lower after King Salman said in an annual address published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency that the country will focus on "raising the efficiency of government spending."
“Now it is becoming clear that the government will be reducing spending and it’s a reality check for investors,” John Sfakianakis, a Riyadh-based Middle East director at Ashmore Group Plc, said by phone. “This means the economy will be slowing down and that will have an impact on the wider market.”"



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks erase previous gains on profit-taking | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks erase previous gains on profit-taking | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market fell back on profit-taking by short-term retail investors on Wednesday, while other Gulf markets were mixed.

The Saudi index, which had gained 1.7 percent on Tuesday, rose in early trade on Wednesday but dropped in the late afternoon to close 1.6 percent lower. Alinma Bank retreated 3.7 percent.

Much activity focused on second- or third-tier speculative stocks. Tihama Advertising rose 2.0 percent after it said it sold land in Jeddah for 33 million riyals ($8.8 million), while Saudi Fisheries sank 5.9 percent."



'via Blog this'

Year Zero | Authers' Note - YouTube

Year Zero | Authers' Note - YouTube: ""



'via Blog this'

Opec sees lacklustre oil demand growth over next five years | The National

Opec sees lacklustre oil demand growth over next five years | The National:

"Opec said in its annual outlook that it expects lacklustre economic growth and other factors to keep a lid on demand growth for its members’ oil over the next five years.

In its annual outlook, the producers group said it expects world oil demand will grow from 91.3 million barrels per day last year to 97.4 million bpd in 2020, which is 500,000 bpd higher than in its previous outlook.

But that rate of growth trails behind expected economic growth, which itself is expected to be “below potential” in the medium term, with the result that Opec foresees little actual growth in demand for its members’ crude through 2020."



'via Blog this'

Gulf states must counter misinformation campaigns | GulfNews.com

Gulf states must counter misinformation campaigns | GulfNews.com:

"The recent economic developments in the Gulf topped the agenda at the symposium organised last week by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

The situation is getting complex for many reasons. First, some local and foreign parties are exploiting some of the economic measures adopted by the GCC countries, especially after the collapse in oil prices, to boost their financial situation. Among these are reforms integral to stabilising the economic conditions and diversify sources of income. Unfortunately, these have been deliberately twisted for the purpose of incitement.

Second, there is Iran’s non-stop interventions in the GCC’s internal affairs and its continuing occupation of three UAE islands, as well as its support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. These add salt to the region’s open wounds."



'via Blog this'

OPEC Sees Demand for Its Crude Oil Falling for Rest of Decade - Bloomberg Business

OPEC Sees Demand for Its Crude Oil Falling for Rest of Decade - Bloomberg Business:

"OPEC said demand for its crude will slide to 2020, though less steeply than previously expected, as rival supplies continue to grow.
The organization will need to pump 30.7 million barrels a day by the end of the decade, OPEC said Wednesday in its annual World Oil Outlook. That’s 1.7 million barrels more than projected a year ago, and 1 million less than the group pumped in November.
The forecast underlines the struggle faced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as it seeks to defend market share against a surge in output from rivals such as the U.S. and Russia. While OPEC is slowly taming the expansion of competitors, the collapse in oil prices means the financial costs of its strategy are immense. Brent crude futures touched an 11-year low of $36.04 a barrel on Dec. 21."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up before king's speech | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up before king's speech | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market edged up in early trade on Wednesday before a speech by King Salman to the advisory Shura Council, with much activity focusing on second- or third-tier speculative stocks.

The Saudi index climbed 0.4 percent. Tihama Advertising was up 5.6 percent after it said it sold land in Jeddah for 33 million riyals ($8.8 million), while Saudi Fisheries gained 3.0 percent.

It is not clear whether the king's speech will announce any policy details, and he may instead simply outline his priorities in general terms. The state budget for 2016, expected to be released on Monday, is likely to give a more comprehensive idea of fiscal policy next year."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf narrowly mixed in thin trade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf narrowly mixed in thin trade | Reuters:

"Gulf stock markets were narrowly mixed in thin early trade on Wednesday with activity deterred by the approach of the Christmas holiday period, when foreign investors become less active, and the release of Saudi Arabia's 2016 state budget, expected on Monday.

Firm global equities and oil prices supported sentiment, but there was very little corporate news to encourage buying.

Dubai's index, which had climbed 1.5 percent on Tuesday, edged down 0.03 percent after the opening on Wednesday. Activity focused on volatile, speculative stocks favoured by local retail investors such as Arabtec, up 3.3 percent, and GFH Financial Group, up 1.6 percent."



'via Blog this'

Oil Slump to 11-Year Low Just a Taste of Pain Felt by Producers - Bloomberg Business

Oil Slump to 11-Year Low Just a Taste of Pain Felt by Producers - Bloomberg Business:

"If oil’s slump to an 11-year low stung traders, it’s just a taste of the hardship felt by the industry.
Brent’s plunge to $35.98 a barrel on Tuesday, its weakest intraday level since 2004, was probably painful enough for any remaining oil bulls. But that move was just playing catch-up with the annual average price, already at the lowest in 11 years -- a measure more important than intraday fluctuations to those that pump crude from the ground."



'via Blog this'

Oman Advisory Body Approves Corporate Tax Rise as Oil Rout Bites - Bloomberg Business

Oman Advisory Body Approves Corporate Tax Rise as Oil Rout Bites - Bloomberg Business:

"Oman’s Shura Council voted to hike corporate taxes as the Middle East’s largest oil producer outside of OPEC faces another year of shrinking government revenue.
The elected advisory body voted on Tuesday to raise corporate taxes on companies registered in Oman by 3 percentage points to 15 percent and to end corporate tax exemptions, council member Tawfiq Al Lawati said by phone. The council also voted to raise taxes on net income to 35 percent for petrochemical companies and 55 percent for natural gas companies, the official Oman Daily reported. The recommendations need approval from the State Council and cabinet before becoming law.
The oil-rich Sultanate faces a budget deficit of more than 17 percent of economic output this year as the oil price slump cuts into the government’s main source of revenue, pushing officials to study project delays and new taxes. While Oman isn’t the only Gulf country stretched by the oil rout, it has thinner fiscal buffers to fall back on than neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"



'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Rebranded Rasmala to focus on regional assets | The National

Rebranded Rasmala to focus on regional assets | The National:

"Sometimes a rebranding tells you of little except a chief executive’s low boredom threshold; sometimes it tells you a lot about future strategy.

The renaming of EIIB Rasmala as Rasmala is an example of the latter, as Zak Hydari, the financial firm’s chief executive, is keen to point out.

“Remember in 1999 when Rasmala started, there was no Dubai International Financial Centre, no capital market, no regional asset management industry. So the bank has been interwoven into the Gulf financial structure ever since then and dealing with investors across the GCC,” he says."



'via Blog this'

Iran growth hovering near zero as IMF says economy stuck in stagflation | The National

Iran growth hovering near zero as IMF says economy stuck in stagflation | The National:

"The end of sanctions cannot come soon enough for an Iranian economy crippled by trade restrictions and the low oil price.

Growth in Iran this year is set to hover somewhere between 0.5 per cent and -0.5 per cent, the IMF said.

When population growth is included, that means per capita growth is negative, and living standards are falling."



'via Blog this'

No plans for taxes on incomes or remittances, minister says | GulfNews.com

No plans for taxes on incomes or remittances, minister says | GulfNews.com:

"The UAE is not planning to start taxing individual incomes in the UAE, a minister of state said on Tuesday.

“There is no intention and no plans to impose taxes on the income of individuals in the UAE,”, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, told reporters at the Federal National Council on Tuesday.

Al Tayer also dismissed any plans to impose taxes on remittances."



'via Blog this'

Siberian Surprise: Russian Oil Patch Just Keeps Pumping - Bloomberg Business

Siberian Surprise: Russian Oil Patch Just Keeps Pumping - Bloomberg Business:

"In the fight for market share among the world’s oil producers this year, Russia wasn’t supposed to be a contender.
But the world’s No. 3 producer has been pumping at the fastest pace since the collapse of the Soviet Union, adding to the flood on an already-swamped market and helping push prices to the lowest levels since 2004.
Russia’s unexpected oil bounty this year is the result not of a new Kremlin campaign but of dozens of modest productivity improvements across the sprawling sector. Even pressured by plunging prices, as well as U.S. and European Union sanctions that cut access to much foreign financing and technology, Russian companies have managed to squeeze more crude out of some of the country’s oldest fields. They have also brought new projects on line, offsetting steady declines in its core producing region of West Siberia."



'via Blog this'

Morgan Stanley: Oil's Road Toward Rebalancing Could Take a Detour in 2016 - Bloomberg Business

Morgan Stanley: Oil's Road Toward Rebalancing Could Take a Detour in 2016 - Bloomberg Business:

"The year 2016 may prove a time in which the theoretical underpinnings of the old adage that "the best cure for low prices is low prices" is challenged, according to Morgan Stanley.
Amid firming demand and plateauing production from nations outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil market has made strides toward rebalancing in the second half of 2015 despite hitting fresh 11-year lows:"



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets rebound; Saudi budget expected next week

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets rebound; Saudi budget expected next week:

"Middle Eastern stocks rose on Tuesday as oil prices and global equities firmed slightly, and because of expectations that Saudi Arabia's state budget would be announced next Monday.

Investors had been expecting the Saudi budget release this week but Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported late on Monday, quoting sources, that it would come on Dec. 28.

Without the threat of an imminent announcement -- the budget is expected to include substantial spending cuts as Riyadh works to shrink its deficit -- short-term investors in Saudi Arabia and the wider region felt more comfortable buying on dips."



'via Blog this'

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi advances; Orascom Telecom supports Egypt | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi advances; Orascom Telecom supports Egypt | Reuters:

"Stocks in Saudi Arabia advanced in early trade on Tuesday as investors returned to the market and bought on dips after reports the kingdom's state budget would now be announced next week, while Orascom Telecom carried Egypt higher.

The Saudi bourse climbed 1.2 percent, breaking the 7,000-point level, with all sectors advancing in early trade.

Volumes peaked at the open as investors found some reprieve in knowing the Saudi budget is now expected to be released next Monday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported late on Monday, quoting sources."



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Conoco exits Russia after 25 years - FT.com

Conoco exits Russia after 25 years - FT.com:

"ConocoPhillips, one of the pioneers of foreign investment in the Russian oil and gas industry, has completed a full retreat from the country by selling out of its Polar Lights joint venture with Rosneft.
A spokesman for the US oil and gas producer confirmed it had sold its 50 per cent stake in the venture, which is focused on the far north-west of Russia. Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, also sold its stake in the asset last week, in a deal that valued the business at about $150m-$200m, according to one person familiar with the matter."



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Morocco businessman says it how he sees it - FT.com

Morocco businessman says it how he sees it - FT.com:

"He is Morocco’s most outspoken businessman. Karim Tazi, one of two brothers who run Richbond, an industrial and property conglomerate with an annual turnover of $170m, has no qualms about criticising corruption in high places, denouncing human rights abuses or supporting pro-democracy protestors — in short, the kinds of actions businessmen around the world usually shy away from because governments can make them pay a heavy price for their defiance.
Tazi — whose views have made him the target of hate campaigns in the press — was a vocal supporter of the February 20 movement, which led protests in 2011 calling for political reform and social justice in Morocco in the wake of the Arab uprisings against autocratic rulers in neighbouring countries. Though he recognises that Morocco has since made big strides towards representative politics — with King Mohammed VI leading constitutional changes giving more powers to parliament and the elected government — he continues to call for change."



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Unrealised business potential of Arab world - FT.com

Unrealised business potential of Arab world - FT.com:

"Many consider the term the “Arab world” to be a misnomer, for while it identifies a linguistic region with deep historical, cultural and religious affinities it lumps together, say, a Dubai and an Aleppo. Yet many of those same people find it hard to remember a time when this region’s prospects looked more uniformly bleak. Everyone can discern the commercial vibrancy of a city like Dubai, and differentiate it from the apocalyptic ruins of Aleppo, the war-stricken business hub of Syria. But there is a pall of violence and upheaval that seems to envelop the region as a whole.
Ethno-sectarian war is cracking Syria and Iraq into de facto partition, with Isis and its cross-border caliphate in both countries threatening the rest of the Levant — and beyond. The cycles of upheaval in Egypt, the most populous Arab state, have turned the country inwards, menaced by Isis in the Sinai to the east and from a crumbling Libya to its west. The absolute monarchies of the Gulf reacted to the wave of the “Arab Spring” turmoil with a mix of repression and largesse, hosing their subjects into quiescence with handouts worth tens of billions of dollars. The oil price collapse has made the long-term affordability of this moot."



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Oil price sounds Saudi Arabia wake-up call - FT.com

Oil price sounds Saudi Arabia wake-up call - FT.com:

"Inside the sprawling royal court in Riyadh, a team of technocrats is putting the final touches to plans for a drastic overhaul of the Saudi Arabian economy. Backed by an army of highly paid western consultants, the royal aides have identified billions of dollars of waste and government largesse that the desert kingdom can no longer afford.Less than a year after taking the helm of the absolute monarchy, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 79, faces the daunting challenge of managing a new era in Saudi Arabia. The world’s largest oil producer and longstanding US ally has adopted an oil policy that protects its market share rather than the price. But while the impact has been cushioned by $640bn in foreign exchange reserves, the age of $100-a-barrel oil has receded and budget surpluses have been replaced by yawning deficits.
“The collapse in oil prices is a wake up call,” says a senior official in Riyadh. “We’ve had a long history of bad practices because of our overreliance on oil.”"



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Hunting for yield | Authers' Note - YouTube

Hunting for yield | Authers' Note - YouTube: ""



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Dubai financial regulator orders advisory firm to pay Dh12m over failed limited-edition book scheme | The National

Dubai financial regulator orders advisory firm to pay Dh12m over failed limited-edition book scheme | The National:

"The regulator of Dubai financial free zone has ordered investment banking advisory firm Mas Clearsight to pay a total of Dh12 million in compensation to 20 investors for breaching the authority’s rules, it said.

It followed an investigation into an unusual investment scheme that was intended to fund the publication of a group of limited-edition books.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) said it chose to censure the company and direct it to pay the compensation instead of fining it because of MAS’s financial position. The advisory company is currently being liquidated."



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Boom-bust cycle jerks reins out of Opec’s hands | The National

Boom-bust cycle jerks reins out of Opec’s hands | The National:

"From a low of US$9.10 per barrel in late 1998, oil prices escalated almost unrelentingly to $144 in July 2008, crashed below $34 in December in the financial crisis, rebounded to $128 in March 2012 on Middle East geopolitical turmoil and have now slumped again to around $36.

During this period, Opec was allegedly managing the market. If this is stability, what would instability look like?

A provocative new paper by Robert McNally of Columbia University argues that Opec’s market management role did not end with the recent rise of US shale oil. He concludes that the producers’ organisation has not effectively stabilised prices since 2004, except for a brief period during the financial crisis."



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New twist in Dubai’s property data row | The National

New twist in Dubai’s property data row | The National:

"Reidin, Dubai’s major property data provider, said yesterday that developers supplied just 9,397 units in 2015 – compared with start-of-the-year projections from other sources that 25,000 units would be handed over.

This is the latest chapter in an argument between property developers and brokerages over the outlook for Dubai’s property market – a dispute that came amid the Dubai Government’s introduction of a new law that limits the ability of private companies to conduct surveys in the emirate. ​

Property brokerages will see the new data as proof that they were right about the emirate’s housing market – while property developers will read the evidence as proof that the brokerages were wrong all along."



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Jebel Ali Free Zone repays Dh2bn Islamic loan ahead of schedule | The National

Jebel Ali Free Zone repays Dh2bn Islamic loan ahead of schedule | The National:

"Jebel Ali Free Zone has repaid a Dh2 billion Islamic loan four and a half years ahead of schedule.

The repayment of the loan that was set to mature in June 2020 comes amid efforts by Dubai government entities to reduce debt loads and as the emirate’s biggest free zone starts to show signs of sustained growth.

“This is perhaps the most significant milestone in the history of JAFZ,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of Economic Zones World, the holding company that controls JAFZ."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE slips back, Qatar edges higher | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE slips back, Qatar edges higher | Reuters:

"Stock markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi fell back in early trade on Tuesday as blue chips sold off, while Qatar edged higher as traders bought shares in banks and the real estate sector.

Dubai's index slid 0.4 percent as large sell orders were executed in Emaar Properties and Emaar Malls . Emaar Properties, the largest stock by market value, slid 1.4 percent although it is still up 18.6 percent from its December low.

The most heavily traded stock, Arabtec, jumped 4.7 percent, however; it is up 18.3 percent from this month's low."



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Qatar National Bank to Buy Turkey's Finansbank for $2.95 Billion - Bloomberg Business

Qatar National Bank to Buy Turkey's Finansbank for $2.95 Billion - Bloomberg Business:

"Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Gulf country’s biggest lender, agreed to buy National Bank of Greece SA’s stake in its Turkish unit for 2.7 billion euros ($2.95 billion).
The deal to buy NBG’s 99.8 percent holding in Finansbank AS is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to close in the first half of 2016, the Doha-based lender said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. State-controlled QNB will finance the purchase with its own funds and will remain "strongly capitalized" after the acquisition, according to the statement.
“This transaction is a significant milestone in QNB’s vision to becoming a Middle East and Africa icon by 2017 and a leading global bank by 2030," Group Chief Executive Officer Ali Ahmed Al-Kuwari said in the statement.
"



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