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Monday, 4 January 2016

Nimr's execution may compound #SaudiArabia's problems | World news | The Guardian

Nimr's execution may compound Saudi Arabia's problems | World news | The Guardian:

"Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute the Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on 2 January may have been accompanied by a wish to bury bad news. It doesn’t take a PR genius to work out that the western world shuts down for the new year holiday.

But if the Saudis were hoping the timing would mean no one would notice they were badly mistaken. The execution has worsened the kingdom’s already hostile relationship with Iran, turning the Nimr case into one that dangerously combines both state and sectarian rivalry – writ large across the Middle East in proxy wars in Syria and Yemen and tensions in Lebanon and Iraq.

The Saudi system is opaque in the extreme. Still, Riyadh had made it clear since at least November that it intended to mete out the death penalty to the high-profile figure who championed the country’s downtrodden Shia minority – as well as to 43 Sunni Muslims convicted of terrorist attacks."



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Etihad launches legal action on airberlin codesharing | The National

Etihad launches legal action on airberlin codesharing | The National:

"Etihad Airways said on Monday it would “fight all the way” to protect its investment in airberlin, as it launched legal action to reverse a German ruling to revoke approval for 29 codeshares it operates with the German carrier.

Last week, the Administrative Court of Braunschweig ruled that the country’s ministry of transport was entitled to stop Etihad from selling tickets on some routes operated by Germany’s second-largest airline.

The court ruled that Etihad would not be able to operate codeshares on some flights from January 16 to the end of its winter schedule in March, because they were not supported by the aviation services agreement between the UAE and Germany."



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Exclusive: Saudi Arabia to halt flights, trade with Iran - minister | Reuters

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia to halt flights, trade with Iran - minister | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia widened its rift with Iran on Monday, saying it would end air traffic and trade links with the Islamic republic and demanding that Tehran must "act like a normal country" before it would restore severed diplomatic relations.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters in an interview that Tehran was responsible for rising tensions after the kingdom executed Shi'ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, describing him as a terrorist.

Insisting Riyadh would react to "Iranian aggression", Jubeir accused Tehran of despatching fighters to Arab countries and plotting attacks inside the kingdom and its Gulf neighbours."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Region hit by global sell-off, Saudi-Iran tensions | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Region hit by global sell-off, Saudi-Iran tensions | Reuters:

"Most Middle East stock markets tumbled on Monday in a global sell-off triggered by China, while growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran added to the gloom.

Chinese stocks slumped by 7 percent after weak manufacturing data, causing emerging markets in general to suffer their biggest fall in four months.

"The broad market sell-off is part of the general weakness in global equity markets," said Muhammad Shabbir, head of equity funds at Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank."



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Chinese shares sell-off, Zuckerberg’s robot butler | FirstFT - YouTube

Chinese shares sell-off, Zuckerberg’s robot butler | FirstFT - YouTube: ""



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Most Dubai towers built before 2012 ‘have non fire-rated exterior panels’ | The National

Most Dubai towers built before 2012 ‘have non fire-rated exterior panels’ | The National:

"The companies that made and installed the exterior panels on The Address Downtown Dubai hotel say that most of the towers built in the city prior to 2012 used non-fire rated exterior panels.

The disclosure comes as investigators probe the causes of the spectacular blaze which was beamed across millions of TV screens worldwide on New Year’s Eve.

An investigation by The National into the origins and specification of the exterior panels used on the building raises serious questions over the fire safety of hundreds of buildings."



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Middle East tensions boil as Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran | Reuters

Middle East tensions boil as Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran | Reuters:

"Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Monday of using an attack on its embassy as a pretext to sever ties in a diplomatic crisis deepening their often violent struggle for influence across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran on Sunday and fellow-Sunni Bahrain followed suit on Monday, two days after Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in protest at Riyadh's execution of a senior Shi'ite cleric.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also downgraded its ties with Iran, as the dispute between the region's top Sunni and Shi'ite powers rippled across the region, driving up oil prices and threatening to widen the Middle East's sectarian divide."



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Mideast Stocks Sink After Saudis Cut Diplomatic Ties With Iran - Bloomberg Business

Mideast Stocks Sink After Saudis Cut Diplomatic Ties With Iran - Bloomberg Business:

"Stocks across most Gulf Arab markets retreated amid one of the worst diplomatic standoffs between Saudi Arabia and Iran in about a quarter century.
Qatar’s QE Index led the drop with a 2.6 percent decrease, followed by Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index’s 2.4 percent slide. Dubai’s DFM General Index shed 1.6 percent. The cost of insuring Saudi debt against default rose to the highest level since May 2009 on a closing basis.
Saudi Arabia, the Arab region’s largest economy and world’s biggest oil exporter, gave Iran’s ambassador to Riyadh 48 hours to leave the country on Sunday after protesters in the Shiite-majority country stormed the Saudi embassy and set parts of it on fire. The incident followed the kingdom’s execution of 47 people for terrorism-related offenses on Saturday, including a Shiite cleric."



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Oil’s prologue likely to be a harbinger of worse things to come - FT.com

Oil’s prologue likely to be a harbinger of worse things to come - FT.com:

"In any assessment of the oil price crash, it is worth remembering Shakespeare’s aphorism: “What’s past is prologue”.
In 2015, it appeared that the salient features of the US oil industry were: falling costs and rising productivity, which meant total output fell only gently from its April peak; continued investor support for capital raising (at least in the first half of the year); sluggish merger and acquisition activity; and a sharp rise in bankruptcies (but only a few with debts above $2bn). This prompted talk about the resilience of US shale oil, with some justification. Fears — or hopes — that shale production would rapidly dry up have turned out to be misplaced."



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Membership of reformed EU seen as vital to economic security - FT.com

Membership of reformed EU seen as vital to economic security - FT.com:

"David Cameron’s claim that British membership of a reformed EU is vital to Britain’s economic security is today backed by an overwhelming majority of economists in an annual Financial Times survey. Regardless of the UK prime minister’s renegotiation of Britain’s terms of EU membership, most of the more than 100 economists thought economic prospects following a Brexit would be hit if voters decided to leave. Economic arguments are central to both the “in” and “out” camps as they prepare for a referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU. It could be held as early as June.
The survey results show decisive support from economists for Britain to remain in the EU; of those surveyed, none thought a vote to leave would enhance Britain’s economic growth this year, with 67 thinking the outlook would deteriorate."



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Oil prices swing sharply as Saudis cut ties with Iran - FT.com

Oil prices swing sharply as Saudis cut ties with Iran - FT.com:

"Oil prices swung violently on the first trading day of 2016 as traders weighed weak economic data from China and worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the biggest rivals in the Opec cartel.
Brent, the global benchmark, gained as much as 3 per cent to $38.50 a barrel after Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Iran in response to protests in Tehran targeting the Saudi embassy over the execution of a prominent Shia cleric.
But the initial gains faded as Chinese shares plunged in response to news that China’s manufacturing sector shrank for a fifth consecutive month in December."



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Is the Drop in China’s Stocks Driven by the Price of Oil? - Bloomberg Business

Is the Drop in China’s Stocks Driven by the Price of Oil? - Bloomberg Business:

"Vasileios Gkionakis, head of global FX strategy at UniCredit, discusses the drop in Chinese markets and if it may be driving by the oil prices. He speaks with Guy Johnson and Jonathan Ferro on Bloomberg Television’s “On The Move.” (Source: Bloomberg)"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi flat as some blue chips bought; Egypt pulls back | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi flat as some blue chips bought; Egypt pulls back | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market was flat in early trade on Monday as investors shrugged off rising tensions with Iran, while Egypt's bourse pulled back amid global weakness in equities.

The Saudi stock index initially fell as much as 0.7 percent after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in response to the storming of its embassy in Tehran - part of an escalating row between the rival powers over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric.

Growing geopolitical risks also pushed the Saudi riyal down in the forward foreign exchange market on Monday, and could deter foreign investors from buying Saudi stocks."



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UPDATE 1-MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE, Qatar drop on global slide, Saudi-Iran tensions | Reuters

UPDATE 1-MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE, Qatar drop on global slide, Saudi-Iran tensions | Reuters:

"Stock markets in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar fell in early trade on Monday because of a sharp drop of Asian bourses and rising geopolitical tensions in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 2.5 percent in response to weak Chinese manufacturing data and the Chinese central bank's decision to fix the yuan at a 4-1/2-year low.

The Dubai stock index fell 1.3 percent in the first 70 minutes in a broad sell-off; nine of the 10 most heavily traded stocks were lower."



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