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Thursday, 31 August 2017

OPEC oil output slips from 2017 high on renewed Libyan outages

OPEC oil output slips from 2017 high on renewed Libyan outages:

"OPEC oil output has fallen this month by 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a 2017 high, a Reuters survey found, as renewed unrest cut supplies in Libya and other members stepped up compliance with a production-cutting deal. A dip in supply from top two producers Saudi Arabia and Iraq helped to boost OPEC’s adherence to its output curbs to 89 percent, up 5 percentage points from July but still short of the levels above 90 percent achieved earlier in the year. The decline from Libya, and the lack of a further sizeable increase from Nigeria, will ease concerns that extra barrels from the two nations could swamp cutback made elsewhere. Libya and Nigeria were exempt from the cuts because conflict had curbed their production."



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Oman to invest up to $120m in Spanish uranium mine

Oman to invest up to $120m in Spanish uranium mine:

"Oman has agreed to invest up to $120m in a uranium mine in Spain, at a time when energy-rich Gulf States are looking closer at nuclear power. The sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman has an option to acquire 37 per cent of Berkeley Energia, which is developing the Salamanca mine about three hours west of Madrid. It will also have the right to uranium supply from the mine, known as an offtake."



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Singapore Wins Qantas Stopovers After Airline Dumps Dubai - Bloomberg

Singapore Wins Qantas Stopovers After Airline Dumps Dubai - Bloomberg:

"Singapore notched up a victory over rival aviation hub Dubai as Qantas Airways Ltd. rerouted its classic Kangaroo Route to the U.K. through Asia. With travel demand surging in Asia, Australia’s national carrier will fly from Sydney to London through Singapore instead of the Middle East under a renegotiated alliance with Emirates, Qantas said in a statement Thursday. Reverting Qantas’s 82-year-old, long-haul service through Asia reflects a shift in the balance of power away from the Gulf as the world’s key aviation hubs, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, joust to retain their roles as key transit points for regional flights. Asia is the fastest-growing air travel market and China is expected to displace the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market around 2024. "



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Kurdistan pays $1 billion to Dana Gas, partners to settle London case

Kurdistan pays $1 billion to Dana Gas, partners to settle London case:

"Iraq’s Kurdistan region will immediately pay $1 billion to UAE-based Dana Gas and its partners to settle a long-running London court case, the two sides said on Wednesday.

The full and final settlement of the $2.24 billion case is the latest effort by the semi-autonomous region to put its finances in order ahead of a referendum next month seeking independence from the government in Baghdad.

Last week, Kurdistan signed deals with key oil producers on its territory to clear outstanding debts, but the long-running dispute with Dana was still clouding the picture."



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UPDATE 1-Qatar resisting sanctions effectively, IMF official says

UPDATE 1-Qatar resisting sanctions effectively, IMF official says:

"Qatar’s government has acted effectively in protecting the economy against sanctions imposed by other Arab countries, an International Monetary Fund official said on Wednesday after leading an IMF team on a week-long visit to Doha.

“The impact on banks’ balance sheets was mitigated by liquidity injections by the Qatar central bank and increased public sector deposits,” Mohammed El Qorchi said in a statement.

“These reactions reflected effective coordination and collaboration among key government agencies.”"



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GE shifts strategy, financial targets for digital business after missteps

GE shifts strategy, financial targets for digital business after missteps:

"The government of the emirate of Sharjah plans to issue a yuan-denominated bond in China, which could make it the first Middle East issuer in the Chinese interbank bond market, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Sharjah, one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates, is in the process of applying to issue the instrument, known as a panda bond, said the sources, who declined to be named as the matter is not yet public. The size of the planned issue was not known, and the government of Sharjah declined to comment."



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Mideast funds favor Kuwait before FTSE decision, bearish on Qatar: Reuters poll

Mideast funds favor Kuwait before FTSE decision, bearish on Qatar: Reuters poll:

"Middle East funds plan to move aggressively into Kuwaiti stocks as the market prices in expectations that index compiler FTSE will add the Gulf state to its secondary emerging market index, a monthly Reuters poll found. At the end of September, FTSE is to announce its decision on whether to include Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the index. Analysts at Arqaam Capital and EFG Hermes believe the chances of both countries meeting FTSE’s inclusion criteria are high, though actual entry into index, once a decision was made, would probably not take place until late 2018. Sixty-two percent of respondents expect to raise their allocations to Kuwaiti stocks over the next three months and none anticipate cutting them, according to the poll of 13 regional fund managers conducted over the past week."



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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

First Abu Dhabi Bank's Wealth Sentiment Index falls 2.2 per cent in August   - The National

First Abu Dhabi Bank's Wealth Sentiment Index falls 2.2 per cent in August   - The National:

"The First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) Wealth Sentiment Index (WSI), a key gauge of how the wealthy in the UAE feel about their prospects, slipped 2.2 per cent month-on-month in August as tepid loan growth and lacklustre tourism weighed on feelings.  The measure fell to 1,017.37 in August compared to 1,040.66 in July, FAB said.   "The August score reflects a range of factors, including a surge in oil prices and an increase in stock indices," the report said.   "At the same time, a fall in tourism due to climbing summer temperatures and a drop in loan growth has negatively impacted the WSI." "



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UAE’s credit growth turns positive, but credit demand remains weak | GulfNews.com

UAE’s credit growth turns positive, but credit demand remains weak | GulfNews.com:

"The UAE’s total banking sector credit returned to positive monthly growth in July, reaching 0.2 per cent month on month after a contraction of 0.5 per cent in the previous month, according to UAE Central Bank data.
Modest monthly improvement credit offtake saw the annual credit growth rate ticking up to 3.5 per cent year on year from 3.1 per cent in June.

The domestic loan growth expanded by 0.3 per cent last month as all domestic sectors saw a monthly rise in loan growth, with the government sector seeing the strongest increase."



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Fitch Downgrades 9 Qatari Banks' IDRs; Outlooks Negative

Fitch Downgrades 9 Qatari Banks' IDRs; Outlooks Negative:

"Fitch Downgrades 9 Qatari Banks’ IDRs; Outlooks Negative here LONDON, August 30 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has downgraded nine Qatari banks' Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDR). Apart from Qatar National Bank (Q.P.S.C) (QNB), which has been downgraded to 'A+' from 'AA-', the rest of the banks have been downgraded to 'A' from 'A+'. They are The Commercial Bank (Q.S.C.) (CBQ), Doha Bank (DB), Qatar Islamic Bank (S.A.Q) (QIB), Al Khalij Commercial Bank P.Q.S.C. (AKB), Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB), Ahli Bank Q.S.C (ABQ), International Bank of Qatar (Q.S.C) (IBQ) and Barwa Bank Q.S.C. (Barwa). All Outlooks are Negative. This action follows the downgrade of the Qatari sovereign by one notch to 'AA-' (see Fitch Downgrades Qatar to 'AA-' Negative Outlook, dated 28-August-2017 on www.fitchratings.com.) and reflects Fitch's view that a timely resolution to Qatar's isolation is unlikely, although further risk of escalation has declined. It also reflects the impact that the measures have had on Qatar's external balance sheet, with an expected fall of sovereign net foreign assets to 146% of GDP in 2017 from 185% in 2016, and our expectation that GDP growth will slow to 2% in 2017. Ultimately, the sovereign ability to support the banking system has weakened and all nine banks' IDRs have been downgraded to reflect this. The banks' Viability Ratings (VR) are unaffected by this action. The VRs remain on Rating Watch Negative (RWN) and reflect the heightened risks that this crisis places on the banks' operating environment, funding and liquidity and earnings and profitability. "



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U.A.E. Media Jump on Qatar Over Report It Plans to Bolt GCC - Bloomberg

U.A.E. Media Jump on Qatar Over Report It Plans to Bolt GCC - Bloomberg:

"Chatter that Qatar wants to quit the Gulf Cooperation Council for not backing it against a Saudi-led embargo has unleashed a torrent of vitriol. Newspapers in the United Arab Emirates, one of the boycotting nations, jumped on a report in Iran’s Jaam-e-Jam daily that cited a former Iranian ambassador to Qatar as saying the emir is fed up with the GCC. In pages upon pages of copy on Wednesday, they accused the gas-rich emirate of plotting to serve Iran by destroying the six-nation bloc from within. “Qatar’s treason’’ and “Qatar commits suicide,’’ the newspapers screamed. “Doha’s rulers are a source of danger to the security and stability of Gulf countries,” Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Alittihad proclaimed, while warning in a different article of a “Qatari-Iranian conspiracy to destroy the GCC.’’ "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Corporate news boosts UAE, Global Telecom leaps in Egypt

MIDEAST STOCKS-Corporate news boosts UAE, Global Telecom leaps in Egypt:

"Corporate news boosted a couple of stocks in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, while a leap by Global Telecom and strong international markets lifted Egypt’s blue-chip index sharply.

Trading volumes have generally been low in the Middle East in recent days because of the approach of Eid al-Adha holidays, which began in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and will start for other markets on Thursday.

But Eshraq Properties climbed 3.6 percent in Abu Dhabi in active trade on Wednesday because of news that it plans to merge with privately held developer Reem Investments.

"



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Marks & Spencer starts franchise talks for HK, Macau business

Marks & Spencer starts franchise talks for HK, Macau business:

"Marks & Spencer has begun talks with Al-Futtaim for the possible purchase and franchising of its retail business in Hong Kong and Macau.

The talks, which follow on from the company’s strategic review of its international business announced November, could see Al-Futtaim become the sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau. M&S has operated in Hong Kong since 1988 and has 27 stores in the city.

The retailer caused momentary panic among its loyal Hong Kong shoppers last year after it said it would pull out of the China market, but the closures were limited to its mainland Chinese stores."



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Shuaa plans reintroduction of Egyptian brokerage business - The National

Shuaa plans reintroduction of Egyptian brokerage business - The National:

"Shuaa Capital, a Dubai-based investment bank, plans to reintroduce brokerage services in the Egyptian market that were suspended in the most populous Arab country after the 2008 financial crisis took toll on trading volumes. Shuaa has formally stared discussions with Egyptian regulators to bring its securities business back to North African country, a key step in expanding its brokerage services which are part of its broader capital markets offering, the firm said in a statement to Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded. Shuaa was one of the top investment banks in the region before the global financial crisis hit almost a decade ago. At that time, the firm and several other financial services companies fell on hard times. Many were forced to either close or suspend their brokerage arms as revenues slumped and trading activity came to a grinding halt. The regional economies, which had recovered well from the crisis, are once again facing weaker economic growth on the back of persistently low oil prices."



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Harvey fails to disrupt new economics of oil business | Arab News

Harvey fails to disrupt new economics of oil business | Arab News:

"The tragic events in south Texas have led to loss of life and devastation across a swathe of the US, but already the hard-nosed professionals of the oil industry — from Dallas to Dhahran — are calculating the effect on their business. Most of the analysis agree it is too early to say with certainty what damage Hurricane Harvey did when it hit the Gulf of Mexico coast, and what the longer-term effects of the downgraded tropical storm will be. The rainfall could be just as damaging as the violent winds of a hurricane to the Texas energy industry. But one thing is clear: In the new dynamic of the global oil industry, in the shale era, many of the old certainties have been blown out of the window."



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Nuclear Deal Boosts Tehran Bourse Trade as IPO Requests Jump - Bloomberg

Nuclear Deal Boosts Tehran Bourse Trade as IPO Requests Jump - Bloomberg:

"Some of the most dramatic evidence of change in Iran since the nuclear agreement that brought sanctions relief to the country is visible in Tehran’s stock market.

In the past 18 months, about 193,000 people have sought permission to trade on the bourse, said Tehran Stock Exchange Corp. Chief Executive Officer Hassan Ghalibaf-Asl. At least 45 companies have asked to list their shares since the Iranian year started in March, and he expects as many as 13 initial public offerings within the 12 months, compared with seven in the previous period.

“The market has been on the rise” since the agreement was implemented in January 2016, Ghalibaf-Asl said in an interview at his office in the Iranian capital. The May re-election of President Hassan Rouhani, who backed the accord, was a further “positive signal” of continuity for the market, he said."



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Saudi Arabia Growth Prospects - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Growth Prospects - Bloomberg:

"John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at Gulf Research Center, discusses the Saudi Arabia economy and its prospects for growth. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Eshraq Properties shines on merger talk, Dubai firms

MIDEAST STOCKS-Eshraq Properties shines on merger talk, Dubai firms:

"Abu Dhabi developer Eshraq Properties rose on merger talk on Wednesday, outperforming an otherwise weak local stock index, while Dubai firmed on the back of gains in real estate firms. Eshraq jumped 2.4 percent on news that it is discussing a potential merger with an Abu Dhabi-based privately held investment firm, Reem Investments. The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.2 percent as most blue chip stocks fell."



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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Profitability to remain resilient for top UAE lenders - The National

Profitability to remain resilient for top UAE lenders - The National:

"The top four banks in the UAE, with a combined deposit base of Dh1 trillion, will post sturdy profits in the next 12 to 18 months on the back of higher returns on loans and stable funding cost, despite sluggish economic growth and weaker fee and commission income, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The four lenders - First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the second-largest financial institutions in broader Middle East region; Emirates NBD (ENBD), Dubai biggest bank by assets; Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), the top Sharia-compliant lender in the country, reported a combined net profit of Dh6.7bn in the second quarter of this year. Aggregate net profitability was broadly flat versus year-on-year but fell 3.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter, partially due to a fall in fee and commission

"Profitability was supported by higher yields on loans and stable funding costs, which drove higher net interest income, despite sluggish economic growth due to current oil prices," Nitish Bhojnagarwala, a vice president at Moody's said in the report."



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BAML, FAB to get roles in IPO of Emaar's UAE real estate unit: sources

BAML, FAB to get roles in IPO of Emaar's UAE real estate unit: sources:

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB.AD are set to join Goldman Sachs (GS.N) in getting roles in the share sale of the UAE real estate development business of Emaar Properties EMAR.DU, sources told Reuters on Tuesday. Dubai-based Emaar, the builder of the world’s tallest tower, is considering an initial public offering of up to 30 percent of the business by November in what could be the first listing on the Dubai Financial Market in nearly three years. A spokesman for Emaar, in which Dubai’s government owns a minority stake, said the list of banks was not yet finalised."



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Iraq faces resistance from Asian buyers on "ambitious" oil price change

Iraq faces resistance from Asian buyers on "ambitious" oil price change:

"Iraq’s proposal to change the way it prices crude oil in Asia faces resistance from refiners who fear that longer lead times between pricing and deliveries will expose them to more risk. Iraq’s state oil marketer SOMO surprised traders this week by seeking feedback on plans to switch its Basra crude benchmark in Asia to pricing based off the Dubai Mercantile Exchange from January 2018, dropping quotes based on assessments by oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts. The move would affect the price of about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil supplies to Asia, mainly shipped to India, China and South Korea."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar falls after Fitch downgrade, Qalaa helps Egypt

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar falls after Fitch downgrade, Qalaa helps Egypt:

"Qatar’s stock market dropped on Tuesday after Fitch cut the country’s credit rating, while most other Gulf bourses fell in thin trade but Egypt’s blue-chip index gained strongly, helped by investment firm Qalaa Holdings. Fitch lowered Qatar by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday, citing the impact of sanctions imposed by other Arab states on Doha. That brought Fitch into line with the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The downgrade threatens higher funding costs for Qatari banks as they seek to replace deposits and loans that are being withdrawn by the other Arab states. Most bank shares fell on Tuesday as Qatar National Bank lost 1.3 percent."



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Air Berlin creditors said to eye asset sale by mid-September - The National

Air Berlin creditors said to eye asset sale by mid-September - The National:

"The buyers of insolvent Air Berlin's assets will likely be picked by mid-September, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the race for the carrier's coveted take-off and landing slots in Germany heats up. Suitors have until September 13 to make bids and present their business plans to the airline's administrator and lenders, two sources told Reuters. A committee of creditors overlooking the liquidation aim to come to an agreement who will buy what shortly thereafter, the sources said, with one of them saying the decision could come as early as September 15."



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After Fitch downgrade, Qatar c.bank chief says banking sector strong

After Fitch downgrade, Qatar c.bank chief says banking sector strong:

"Qatar’s banks are capable of withstanding the pressure of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, and routine stress tests show the banking sector is strong and efficient, Qatari central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said on Tuesday.

Sheikh Abdullah was speaking in a statement issued after Fitch Ratings lowered Qatar’s credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday, bringing Fitch into line with assessments by the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

Qatari banks are highly solvent and profitable, and data released in the central bank’s monthly report show they are liquid, Sheikh Abdullah added. He said the central bank was strictly following international standards in regulating banks, especially with regard to capital adequacy and liquidity."



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Full U.S. Tanks May Ease Risk of Fuel Shortages From Harvey - Bloomberg

Full U.S. Tanks May Ease Risk of Fuel Shortages From Harvey - Bloomberg:

"As devastating as the flooding has been for oil refiners in the U.S. Gulf Coast, surplus fuel inventories may help the industry withstand the worst storm to hit the country in more than a decade.

Deluges from Tropical Storm Harvey have turned Houston’s busiest highways into canals of standing water and displaced thousands of people and livestock. The floods also forced shutdowns across a regional energy hub that supplies fuel to millions of Americans from Oklahoma to Florida to New York. As much as 30 percent of U.S. fuel production may come off line temporarily, according to energy investment consultant Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

But even as fuel prices surged and more heavy rain was forecast, gasoline stockpiles in the Gulf Coast are the highest for this time of year in two decades, just as demand is likely to drop, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies about a quarter of the fuel consumed in the East Coast, said service has been interrupted at several locations near its origin point in Houston. Hebert and all other facilities east of Houston are operational, the company said in a statement on its website."



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Iraq Braves Break With Tradition in Search of Oil’s True Worth - Bloomberg

Iraq Braves Break With Tradition in Search of Oil’s True Worth - Bloomberg:

"OPEC’s second-largest producer is stepping up the campaign to get more for its oil by looking to revamp the way it sells crude to its biggest customers. Iraq is considering plans to use a new reference price for sales to Asia, according to traders, who received a notice from the state oil company SOMO. The producer is proposing to use a contract traded on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange as a benchmark for pricing Basrah crude, replacing the formula it currently uses along with competitors such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mixed early on; Qatar falls after credit downgrade

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mixed early on; Qatar falls after credit downgrade:

"Most Gulf stock markets traded narrowly early on Tuesday as many investors stayed away with the approach of Eid al-Adha holidays beginning this week, but Qatar’s bourse dropped after Fitch cut the country’s credit rating. Fitch lowered Qatar by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday, citing the impact of sanctions on Doha imposed by other Arab states. That brought Fitch into line with the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The downgrade threatens higher funding costs for Qatari banks as they seek to replace deposits and loans that are being withdrawn by the other Arab states. Qatar National Bank fell 1.2 percent as Qatar’s stock index lost 1.1 percent."



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Monday, 28 August 2017

Flydubai losses widen to Dh142m in first half | GulfNews.com

Flydubai losses widen to Dh142m in first half | GulfNews.com:

"Low-cost carrier Flydubai reported Dh142.5 million in losses for the first half of 2017 on Monday, with the figure widening from the Dh89.9 million in losses reported in the same half of 2016. The airline attributed losses to higher fuel costs and pressure on yields. The losses came despite a 9.9 per cent year-on-year rise in revenues, which reached Dh2.5 billion in the first half as an increase in passenger numbers gave a boost to revenues. Passenger numbers reached 5.4 million, up 10.5 per cent year-on-year."



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Grappling with debt, UAE's JBF RAK in talks to sell Belgian plant: sources

Grappling with debt, UAE's JBF RAK in talks to sell Belgian plant: sources:

"JBF RAK, a United Arab Emirates subsidiary of Indian polyester maker JBF Industries, is in talks to sell its plant in Belgium for up to 250 million euros ($298 million) in an effort to settle part of its debt, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sale is one of a number of moves under discussion between the company and banks as JBF RAK seeks to re-negotiate around 2 billion dirhams ($545 million) in debt and turnaround its fortunes after it fell into financial problems earlier in the summer.

Banks have hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to represent their interests, while JBF RAK has hired AlixPartners, said the sources. The advisers are working together to come up with a strategy for the company’s future including examining the amount of debt it owes, as well as proposals on potential asset sales and a restructuring of management."



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Qatar may cut capital spending because of sanctions - Fitch

Qatar may cut capital spending because of sanctions - Fitch:

"Qatar’s government may reduce its capital spending on economic projects and infrastructure if damage to its economy from sanctions intensifies, Fitch Ratings said on Monday as it cut the country’s credit rating.

Fitch lowered Qatar by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook. That brought it into line with the other two major rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, which assess Qatar at the same level and also have negative outlooks for it.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of backing terrorism, which it denies. They imposed sanctions closing Qatar’s only land border, with Saudi Arabia, and disrupted its maritime shipping routes by ending its use of Dubai as a trans-shipment hub."



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Qatar Cut to AA- by Fitch With No End in Sight to Gulf Dispute - Bloomberg

Qatar Cut to AA- by Fitch With No End in Sight to Gulf Dispute - Bloomberg:

"Qatar’s sovereign rating was cut to AA- by Fitch Ratings, which cited little progress toward ending a Saudi Arabia-led embargo of the emirate.

Fitch lowered the Gulf state’s sovereign long-term debt rating by one notch, putting it on par with Belgium and South Korea. The outlook is negative, the New York-based firm said in a statement Monday.

“International mediation efforts are still ongoing but are not showing significant progress,” Fitch analysts Krisjanis Krustins and Jan Friederich said. “In our view, the negotiating positions of Qatar and the boycotting countries remain far apart.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks strong before FTSE upgrade decision, Egypt rebounds

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks strong before FTSE upgrade decision, Egypt rebounds:

"Banks helped nudge stock markets in the Gulf higher on Monday with Saudi Arabian lenders, which may benefit from a potential upgrade of the kingdom by index compiler FTSE at the end of next month, outperforming. Egypt firmed on buying by foreign funds.

Late next month FTSE will announce its decision on whether to include Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in its secondary emerging market index. Analysts at Arqaam Capital and EFG Hermes believe the chances are high for a positive decision in both cases.

One of Riyadh’s largest listed lenders, National Commercial Bank, added 1.5 percent and Samba Financial Group rose 0.9 percent."



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Qatari riyal under renewed pressure despite credit rating reprieve

Qatari riyal under renewed pressure despite credit rating reprieve:

"S&P’s decision to remove Qatar from negative credit watch offered little support to the country’s currency on Monday, as the kingdom’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Iran raised fears that its diplomatic spat with its Gulf neighbours is likely to get worse before it gets better. S&P downgraded Qatar’s sovereign credit rating to AA- in June and warned that it could be downgraded further after a Saudi Arabia-led group of nations accused the government of supporting terrorism and launched an economic embargo. In a scheduled update on Friday, however, S&P kept Qatar’s ratings on hold and removed it from credit watch, saying it expects the government to “continue to actively manage the impact of the boycott while preserving Qatar’s core rating strengths, including strong public finances”."



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Why The Shale Oil “Miracle” Is Becoming A “Debacle”  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

Why The Shale Oil “Miracle” Is Becoming A “Debacle”  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards:

"This is an amazingly important concept. Yet it’s almost universally overlooked. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the magical role energy plays in our daily lives because most of what we experience is a derivative of it. The connection is hidden from direct view.  Because of this, most people utterly fail to detect or appreciate the priceless and irreplaceable role of high net-energy fuel sources (such as oil and gas) to our modern lifestyle. With high net-energy, society enjoys increasing complexity and technological advances. It’s what enables us to pursue massive goals like desalinating billions of gallons of seawater, or going to Mars.  But without high net-energy fuel sources, our capabilities quickly regress to those of decades — or even centuries — past."



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Hospitals, airports, schools, football clubs: KSA hangs up the ‘for sale’ signs | Arab News

Hospitals, airports, schools, football clubs: KSA hangs up the ‘for sale’ signs | Arab News:

"The summer months appear to have been anything but restful for policymakers in Saudi Arabia working on the Kingdom’s enormous privatization program, judging by the amount of public information that has been made available on this crucial subject.
Just by way of background: The Vision 2030 strategy, aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s economy away from oil dependency, foresees big expansion in private-sector activity as a dynamo for further growth.
Apart from the historic initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco — based on a valuation of $2 trillion, the offering of 5 percent of the shares would be the biggest ever at $100 billion — there is an even bigger schedule of other privatizations, ranging from power stations to football clubs, that has been officially valued at $200 billion."



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U.A.E President Approves 5% Value-Added Tax - Bloomberg

U.A.E President Approves 5% Value-Added Tax - Bloomberg:

"EFG Hermes MENA Equity Strategist Mohamad Al Hajj discusses a 5% value-added tax to begin January 18 in the United Arab Emirates. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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Harvey may succeed where OPEC has struggled by boosting oil prices: Russell

Harvey may succeed where OPEC has struggled by boosting oil prices: Russell:

"Hurricane Harvey may achieve in global crude oil markets in a few days what OPEC and its allies have struggled to achieve in months - a tightening of supplies and a rise in prices. Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, hit the coast of Texas on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. state in more than 50 years, causing widespread damage and flooding. The region where the storm struck is home to some 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity as well as being a major shipment point for both imports and exports of crude oil and fuel products."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks help lift Saudi as neighbouring markets weaken

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks help lift Saudi as neighbouring markets weaken:

"Banking shares helped to keep Saudi Arabia’s stock market firm in early trade on Monday while the rest of the region continued to weaken in anaemic trade. The Riyadh index rose 0.1 percent after 25 minutes as the two largest banks gained, with National Commercial Bank adding 0.4 percent and Al Rajhi up 0.6 percent. Dubai’s index, which had been the region’s worst performer on Sunday, lost 0.2 percent on Monday morning as 16 shares dropped, including GFH Financial Group down 1.1 percent."



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Sunday, 27 August 2017

EFG-Hermes increases DP World share price target - The National

EFG-Hermes increases DP World share price target - The National:

"EFG-Hermes, the Egyptian investment bank, on Sunday increased its target price for DP World shares by 10 per cent after the world’s fourth-largest port operator last week announced resilient first half 2017 earnings amid improved global trade. The bank’s Cairo-based brokerage unit increased the target price for the stock to US$27.5 a share and reiterated its “Buy” recommendation on the company. DP World stocks on rose 3.93 per cent to $22.5 on Nasdaq Dubai at the end of trade on Sunday, still a fair discount on the recommended price. Wafaa Baddour, an analyst with the brokerage, said the lower level of leverage of DP World, better global trade trends, and the company’s more attractive 2018 price-to-earning multiple compared with its peers were the factors behind the target price increase."



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Qatar faces lower growth as economic sanctions likely to remain for longer | GulfNews.com

Qatar faces lower growth as economic sanctions likely to remain for longer | GulfNews.com:

"Qatar is expected to face a prolonged period of low economic growth if the economic sanctions imposed by a group of countries led by its neighbours such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain persist for a long period, according to economists, analysts and rating agencies. All leading credit rating agencies have changed the rating outlook of Qatar to negative following the imposition of economic and diplomatic sanctions. S&P was the first to lower its long-term rating on the State of Qatar to AA- from AA and placed the rating on credit watch with negative implications. In its latest update, the rating agency affirmed the negative outlook and has hinted that it could potentially lower the ratings if the economic boycott is tightened and or prolonged."



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Exports from Iran's South Pars field up 12 percent - customs head

Exports from Iran's South Pars field up 12 percent - customs head:

"Exports from Iran’s South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, rose 12 percent over the past year, its head of customs said on Sunday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The field exported about $6.9 billion worth of gas condensate, a 28-percent increase in the value of exports of that product over the same period last year, Ahmad Pourhaydar said. Other exports included methanol, propane and polyethylene, he added. The bulk of its products went to China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait."



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Qatar Navigation launches Pakistan service

Qatar Navigation launches Pakistan service:

"Major Qatari shipping conglomerate Qatar Navigation (Milaha) is launching a direct service between Qatar and Karachi in Pakistan, the company said on Sunday, as it seeks to counter economic sanctions against Doha by other Arab States. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Doha on June 5, ending the use of Dubai’s Jebel Ali port as a trans-shipment centre for goods flowing to and from Qatar. As a result, imports into Qatar plunged by more than a third from year-earlier levels in June and July, forcing Doha to establish new shipping links and develop other trans-shipment centres in Oman and on the Indian subcontinent."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Low investor turnout before Eid hurts most bourses, Kuwait resilient

MIDEAST STOCKS-Low investor turnout before Eid hurts most bourses, Kuwait resilient:

"Thin news flow and upcoming Islamic holidays towards the end of the week kept many long-term equity investors away on Sunday, leaving stock markets in the Middle East vulnerable to profit- taking, but Kuwait’s index bucked the trend. “Speculators are booking capital gains while long-term investors were dormant,” said a Jeddah-based broker. Stock markets are often sparsely traded ahead of Eid al-Adha, he noted. The holidays will start on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia and Thursday in the United Arab Emirates."



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The New Thing in Chinese Oil? America - Bloomberg Gadfly

The New Thing in Chinese Oil? America - Bloomberg Gadfly:

"There's a new kid on the block, muscling in on crude sales to China. America is rapidly carving out a niche for itself, stepping in to fill the gap left by falling supplies from OPEC countries. As recently as last year U.S. crude-oil exports to China were puny. On average in 2016, companies shipped just 10,000 barrels a day to China -- that's less than two supertankers during the whole year.
THE QUIET AMERICAN

The U.S. ranked 32nd in the list of Chinese import sources in 2016, according to data from the Chinese customs authorities. That's below Mongolia and Sudan, and only just above war-torn Yemen."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Arabia's consumer-related shares buck weak regional trend

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Arabia's consumer-related shares buck weak regional trend:

"Domestic demand-focused companies were the top performers in Saudi Arabia early on Sunday in an otherwise quiet stock market, while other bourses in the region were weak. The Riyadh index was up 0.1 percent after half an hour of trade, with food producers particularly strong; dairy maker Almarai gained 0.7 percent and Saudi Fisheries rose 1.4 percent. Bookstore and electronics retailer Jarir was up 0.3 percent after the company said it was opening a new store in Riyadh, its 40th outlet in Saudi Arabia."



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Friday, 25 August 2017

Iraq faces resistance from Asian buyers on 'ambitious' oil price change

Iraq faces resistance from Asian buyers on 'ambitious' oil price change:

"Iraq’s proposal to change the way it prices crude oil in Asia faces resistance from refiners who fear that longer lead times between pricing and deliveries will expose them to more risk. Iraq’s state oil marketer SOMO surprised traders this week by seeking feedback on plans to switch its Basra crude benchmark in Asia to pricing based off the Dubai Mercantile Exchange from January 2018, dropping quotes based on assessments by oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts. The move would affect the price of about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil supplies to Asia, mainly shipped to India, China and South Korea."



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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Saudi Arabia to open health, education sectors to full foreign ownership | GulfNews.com

Saudi Arabia to open health, education sectors to full foreign ownership | GulfNews.com:

"Saudi Arabia will allow foreign investors to take 100 per cent ownership of companies in its health and education sectors, the head of the kingdom’s investment authority said. It is the latest move by the country to gradually ease ownership restrictions on foreign firms, which have previously been required to set up a joint venture with a local partner. “We are opening up education centres to have ownership 100 per cent, all types of education even from primary school. This is something new for Saudi,” Ebrahim Al Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said."



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UPDATE 1-Sluggish July imports in Qatar show sanctions still hurting economy

UPDATE 1-Sluggish July imports in Qatar show sanctions still hurting economy:

"Qatar's imports recovered only slightly in July after plunging in June, government data released on Thursday showed, suggesting the country's economy is still suffering from sanctions imposed by other Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

The closure of the Saudi border with Qatar and disruption to shipping routes via the UAE slashed Qatar's imports by 37.9 percent in June compared with May, forcing Doha to scramble to arrange new shipping routes and import some goods by air."



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Saudi foreign reserves resume falling in July

Saudi foreign reserves resume falling in July:

"Saudi Arabia's foreign reserves resumed falling in July, central bank data showed on Thursday, suggesting the government may remain under pressure to draw them down to cover a budget deficit caused by low oil prices.

Riyadh began liquidating the reserves in late 2014 and they dropped sharply from a record $737 billion in August that year. In June 2017, they rose month-on-month for the first time in over a year, prompting speculation that Riyadh might have cut its deficit enough to no longer need cash from the reserves.

But Thursday's data showed the central bank's net foreign assets fell by $6.3 billion from June to $487 billion in July, their lowest level since early 2011. The reserves shrank 12.8 percent from a year earlier."



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One OPEC State Muddles Through Oil Slump as History Deters Debt - Bloomberg

One OPEC State Muddles Through Oil Slump as History Deters Debt - Bloomberg:

"The new realities of global oil markets are yet to convince economic policy makers in Algeria that it’s time for a radical rethink.

Unlike the rest of OPEC’s members -- with the exceptions of war-torn Libya and sanctioned Iran -- Algeria has steered clear of tapping global debt markets three years into the oil-price slump. Neither will it overhaul laws to attract more foreign investors. A cabal of aging leaders sitting at the top of the party that delivered independence more than half a century ago is united in its opposition to “mortgaging” the country’s future. 

Instead, the North African nation has run through almost half of the foreign reserves it accumulated during the oil boom in order to avoid cutting welfare benefits as a sensitive political transition looms. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80 and who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, has no clear successor, meaning a period of jockeying is already under way."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Most bourses lose steam as retail investors book profits

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most bourses lose steam as retail investors book profits:

"Most stock markets in the Middle East declined on Thursday as local retail investors booked profits and institutional investors stayed on the sidelines, while Dubai port operator DP World underperformed because of uninspiring interim earnings. "The region has been a retail-, momentum-driven market and I expect next week that trend will spill over," said a Dubai-based portfolio manager. With Eid al-Adha holidays due to start in the region from the middle of next week, many retail investors are starting to book profits. The Riyadh index fell 0.3 percent, snapping six straight sessions of gains, as a little over half of banks fell including one of this week's top-performing stocks, Al Rajhi Bank, which retreated 0.9 percent. "



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China is welcome in Saudi Arabia, but speculations of buying Aramco are far-fetched  | Arab News

China is welcome in Saudi Arabia, but speculations of buying Aramco are far-fetched  | Arab News:

"Commercial ties between Saudi Arabia and China have become vitally important for both countries since the visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in January 2016 that signalled a new era in bilateral relations.  That was further cemented by the visit of King Salman to Beijing in March this year, in which multi-billion dollar deals were signed between the biggest corporate players in both countries.  Today, in Jeddah, an investment forum between the two countries will add some significant detail to the newly co-operative relationship. "



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Dubai's DP World says confident of meeting FY view after flat first half

Dubai's DP World says confident of meeting FY view after flat first half:

"DP World DPW.DI, one of the world's largest port operators, said on Thursday it was confident it would meet full-year market expectations as it reported a flat half-year net profit. The Dubai-headquartered firm made a profit of $606 million attributable to the owners of the company in the six months to June 30, according to a bourse statement. The earnings, which were in line with analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data, compare with a $608 million profit in the same period a year earlier."



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Saudi Arabia, China plan joint $20 billion investment fund

Saudi Arabia, China plan joint $20 billion investment fund:

"Saudi Arabia and China plan to establish and operate jointly a $20 billion investment fund, sharing costs and profits on a 50:50 basis, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters on Thursday.

Falih was speaking on the sidelines of an economic conference of senior officials and businessmen from the two countries.

He said that in addition to the fund, he expected 11 business agreements worth about $20 billion to be signed between the two sides on Thursday. He did not give details."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks strong in Saudi Arabia, DP World down after flat profit

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks strong in Saudi Arabia, DP World down after flat profit:

"Banking shares were buoyant in Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning while blue chips helped lift Dubai slightly, although port operator DP World underperformed because of uninspiring interim financial results. Al Rajhi Bank was up 0.3 percent, heading for its seventh straight straight session of gains. Most other Saudi lenders were also strong, with National Commercial Bank rising 0.6 percent, helping lift the Riyadh index 0.1 percent after 25 minutes of trade. In Dubai, the index was up 0.3 percent on the back of a 1.5 percent gain in the largest property developer, Emaar Properties."



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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Fitch: Banks' Impact From Qatar Boycott Hinges on Funding Mix

Fitch: Banks' Impact From Qatar Boycott Hinges on Funding Mix:

"Qatari banks' funding and liquidity are under varying degrees of pressure from outflows of non-domestic deposits and interbank borrowings, after several Arab countries severed diplomatic and logistical ties with Qatar in June, Fitch Ratings says. The boycott will also increase banks' financing costs in the international debt markets. The overall impact on each bank will depend on how much it relies on non-domestic sources for its funding. Banks with a greater reliance on non-domestic deposits include Ahli Bank, Al Khaliji, Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, and Qatar Islamic Bank. Banks with less reliance include Barwa Bank, International Bank of Qatar, and Qatar International Islamic Bank. Withdrawal of non-domestic deposits is likely to increase competition among banks for domestic deposits, pushing up funding costs and squeezing margins. Banks that have been more reliant on non-domestic deposits will need to price generously to attract domestic deposits away from other banks as these tend to be fairly stable - it is easier to keep or roll over existing deposits than to attract new ones. Deposits represent 75% of Qatari banks' non-equity funding. "



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Qatar Bankers Want to Know Who Their Friends Are in Gulf Scrap - Bloomberg

Qatar Bankers Want to Know Who Their Friends Are in Gulf Scrap - Bloomberg:

"It’s good to know who your friends are when times are tough.

Qatar’s banks are keeping track of which foreign partners have maintained business with them and which ones have scaled back lending during the boycott of the Gulf country by a Saudi-led bloc that started in early June.

The central bank wants to draw up a list that may be used when deciding who to give future business to in Qatar, according to three bankers briefed on the matter. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Small caps support Saudi; Egypt falls amid U.S. aid denial

MIDEAST STOCKS-Small caps support Saudi; Egypt falls amid U.S. aid denial:

"Stock markets in the Middle East were mixed on Wednesday with Saudi Arabia finding support from smaller companies while property developers were strong in Dubai.

The Riyadh index edged up 0.1 percent. Nine-tenths of the top 20 gainers were small to mid-sized stocks including Saudi Indian Co for Cooperative Insurance (Wafa), which added 1.6 percent after saying it had received "temporary and conditional" approval from the central bank to sell some of its professional liability insurance policies.

Shares of Wafa had suffered heavy losses since Sunday when the company, along with three other insurers, was slapped by the central bank with a temporary ban on selling motor vehicle policies because of irregular practices."



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Qatar’s Plucky Plan to Outlast the Saudi Embargo - Bloomberg

Qatar’s Plucky Plan to Outlast the Saudi Embargo - Bloomberg:

"For a moment, it looked like Saudi Arabia might be easing up on its estranged neighbor Qatar. On Aug. 17, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman, the Saudi monarch, lifted restrictions on Qataris who want to take part in the annual hajj pilgrimage beginning on Aug. 30. The king even offered to fly Qataris to Mecca on Saudi airplanes as his guests. It was the Saudis’ warmest action toward Qatar since June, when the kingdom and three of its Arab allies imposed an embargo against the tiny emirate to punish it for allegedly supporting Islamic insurgents.

The hajj gesture, however, was part of a double-move against Qatar’s ruling family that’s only made the bad blood worse. The Saudis credited the “mediation” to an elderly descendant of Qatar’s founder, a royal cousin plucked from obscurity for surprise audiences with King Salman and his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A photo distributed by the Saudi Press Agency showed the beaming Saudi king holding hands with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, whose brother was overthrown as Qatar’s first ruler in 1972 by the grandfather of Qatar’s current emir. “That will be viewed as intensely provocative in Doha,” Qatar’s capital, says Kristian Ulrichsen of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “They’re clearly trying to present this guy as an alternative to Qatar’s ruling elite.”

Qatar’s 37-year-old emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, has survived his frenemies’ initial siege and is riding a surge in domestic nationalism as Qataris dig in for a long standoff. Panic buying in grocery stores, driven by whispered fears of a coup or invasion, made headlines early on. Neither materialized, giving Sheikh Tamim time to cement friendships in the West with big-ticket purchases of U.S. military jets, Italian naval ships, and the contract of Brazilian superstar Neymar, the world’s most expensive soccer player, which was acquired on Aug. 2 by the Qatari-owned club Paris Saint-Germain. Qatar even flirted with buying a stake in American Airlines Inc."



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U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October in Drive to Boost Revenue - Bloomberg

U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October in Drive to Boost Revenue - Bloomberg:

"The United Arab Emirates will start imposing a tax on selected goods starting Oct. 1 as Gulf Arab nations seek to deepen government revenue to counter the drop in oil prices. A levy on designated goods -- tobacco, energy drinks and soft drinks -- will include those sold at airports and free zones, Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary at Ministry of Finance, told the state-run WAM news agency. Products purchased at airports by travelers taking the goods abroad will be exempt, he said. The move is one of the measures taken by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to bolster non-oil revenue and is a milestone for a region that has attracted companies and workers largely through the promise of tax-free living. The bloc is also moving to implement value-added taxation though governments say they have no plans to introduce income tax."



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Qatar food security project gets $440 mln bank financing

Qatar food security project gets $440 mln bank financing:

"Qatar Islamic Bank signed to provide 1.6 billion riyals ($440 million) of financing to build a food processing and storage facility at the country's Hamad Port, as Doha strengthens its resistance against sanctions by other Arab states. The 530,000 square metre facility, to be built by AlJaber Engineering in about two years, will include equipment to process and refine rice, raw sugar and edible oils, the bank said on Wednesday. It will also feature rice silos, warehouses and edible oil storage tanks. Some of the food processed by the facility may be exported regionally or globally, and waste products from the facility will be used to create animal feed."



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Saudi Wealth Fund Said to Hire $111 Billion-Portfolio Chief - Bloomberg

Saudi Wealth Fund Said to Hire $111 Billion-Portfolio Chief - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is being transformed into a $2 trillion investment giant, hired Rashed Sharif as head of domestic investments, according to two people familiar with the matter. Sharif, previously chief executive officer of Riyad Bank’s investment-banking unit, will be responsible for managing the Public Investment Fund’s $111 billion portfolio of Saudi assets, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. He will report to the fund’s managing director, Yasir Alrumayyan, they said. PIF, as the fund is known, plans to become the world’s largest when the government gives it ownership of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. along with the proceeds from the oil producer’s initial public offering, expected to be the biggest listing ever. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman wants to remodel the kingdom into an investment powerhouse to reduce its dependence on oil."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs, Al Rajhi continue rise in Saudi, region mostly quiet

MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs, Al Rajhi continue rise in Saudi, region mostly quiet:

"Shares in real estate investment trusts and a major bank in Saudi Arabia were up on Wednesday morning while most equity markets in the region moved little. The Riyadh index rose 0.3 percent as Al Maather REIT , which listed on Tuesday, surged its 10 percent limit for a second straight day. Al Jazira Mawten REIT gained 2.2 percent and Taleem REIT rose 1.3 percent. Shares in REITs have been heavily traded since the start of the week as local investors have been attracted by the sudden surge in activity. "



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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

UPDATE 1-Qatar deposits $6.9 bln in banks in July to offset crisis outflows

UPDATE 1-Qatar deposits $6.9 bln in banks in July to offset crisis outflows:

"Qatar's government deposited nearly $7 billion in the local banking system during July to offset a pull-out of funds by banks from other Arab states due to the region's diplomatic crisis, Qatari central bank data showed on Tuesday. Foreign customers' deposits at banks in Qatar - the vast majority in the form of foreign-currency deposits - shrank to 157.2 billion riyals ($43.2 billion) last month from 170.6 billion riyals in June. The rate of decline was roughly the same as in June, when the crisis began. But total deposits at banks in Qatar rose during July, to 772.5 billion riyals from 770.7 billion riyals, because of a $6.9 billion jump in the Qatari public sector's foreign currency deposits, the data showed. That followed a $10.9 billion injection by the government in June."



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U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts in October in Drive to Boost Revenue - Bloomberg

U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts in October in Drive to Boost Revenue - Bloomberg:

"The United Arab Emirates will start imposing a tax on selected goods starting Oct. 1 as Gulf Arab nations seek to deepen government revenue to counter the drop in oil prices. A levy on designated goods -- tobacco, energy drinks and soft drinks -- will include those sold at airports and free zones, Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary at Ministry of Finance, told the state-run WAM news agency. Products purchased at airports by travelers taking the goods abroad will be exempt, he said. The move is one of the measures taken by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council work to bolster non-oil revenue and is a milestone for a region that has attracted companies and workers largely through the promise of tax-free living. The bloc is also moving to implement value-added taxation though governments say they have no plans to introduce income tax."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Al Rajhi Bank, Ma'aden boost Saudi; Dubai also outperforms

MIDEAST STOCKS-Al Rajhi Bank, Ma'aden boost Saudi; Dubai also outperforms:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Tuesday on the back of gains by Al Rajhi Bank and mining firm Ma'aden, while Dubai also outperformed most Gulf bourses although trading was thin. The Saudi stock index climbed 0.4 percent with Al Rajhi up 2.2 percent to 65.80 riyals, bringing its gains over the last five days to 4.9 percent. Of 14 analysts covering the stock, seven rate it a "buy" or "strong buy" and six rate it a "hold", according to Thomson Reuters data; their median target price is 70.90 riyals. Ma'aden rose 1.8 percent after international base metal prices surged to multi-year highs overnight."



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UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia nudges yields down in 13 bln riyal sukuk sale

UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia nudges yields down in 13 bln riyal sukuk sale:

"Saudi Arabia's finance ministry pushed yields down slightly in its second monthly sale of domestic Islamic bonds on Tuesday, a sign of healthy appetite for the debt as Riyadh covers a budget deficit caused by low oil prices. Riyadh auctioned 13 billion riyals ($3.5 billion) of local currency sukuk, with the offer 295 percent subscribed. It sold 2.1 billion riyals of five-year, 7.7 billion riyals of seven-year and 3.2 billion riyals of 10-year sukuk, the ministry said. The size of the issue was down slightly from the government's first monthly offer in July, when it sold 17 billion riyals and attracted 51 billion of bids."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs, Al Rajhi Bank boost Saudi, rest of region quiet

MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs, Al Rajhi Bank boost Saudi, rest of region quiet:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Tuesday on the back of a further gain by Al Rajhi Bank and heavy trade in real estate investment trusts, while the rest of the region barely moved.

The Saudi stock index climbed 0.5 percent in the first 90 minutes, with Al Rajhi up 0.9 percent, bringing its gains over the last five days to 4 percent.

Maather REIT Fund jumped its 10 percent daily limit from its initial public offer price to 11.0 riyals upon listing in Riyadh to become Saudi Arabia's fifth listed REIT."



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Here's a Sign That Dubai Is No Longer the U.A.E.'s Problem Child - Bloomberg

Here's a Sign That Dubai Is No Longer the U.A.E.'s Problem Child - Bloomberg:

"To see how far Dubai has come, take a look at its credit default swaps. The extra cost investors pay to insure the sheikhdom’s bonds versus those of its oil-rich neighbor, Abu Dhabi, has fallen below 60 basis points this month for the first time on record. That’s down from 555 basis points back in 2009, when Dubai’s government-related companies were in talks to restructure billions of dollars in debt and Abu Dhabi came to the emirate’s rescue with a bailout."



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Iran's Cushion Against a Trump Assault - Bloomberg

Iran's Cushion Against a Trump Assault - Bloomberg:

"It hasn’t been the investment bonanza Iran hoped for, but the billions of dollars unlocked by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers might help cushion the impact of any future U.S. assault on the accord. Bloomberg's Alaa Shahine reports on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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Saudis Could Get $21 Billion Non-Oil Boost in 2018, BofA Says - Bloomberg

Saudis Could Get $21 Billion Non-Oil Boost in 2018, BofA Says - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s non-oil revenue could surge by about 80 billion riyals ($21.3 billion) next year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, boosting the kingdom’s efforts to reduce the economy’s reliance on crude. The increase would be driven by the implementation of value-added taxation, a tax on luxury products and higher fees imposed on expatriates’ dependents, London-based economist Jean-Michel Saliba wrote in the report. The kingdom has already introduced a tax on soft drinks and tobacco this year. Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit narrowed in the second quarter this year, helped by a 28 percent increase in revenue from crude exports as well as a drop in spending. Non-oil revenue, however, dropped 17 percent, highlighting the kingdom’s struggle to diversify it economy as part of a plan spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."



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Admirers Grow for Biggest Saudi Bank on Index-Addition Bet - Bloomberg

Admirers Grow for Biggest Saudi Bank on Index-Addition Bet - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s largest lender has become a favorite among equity analysts and investors as its business improves and the potentially lucrative inclusion in an emerging-markets benchmark index approaches next month.

Al Rajhi Bank was upgraded to buy by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Aug. 8. An analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch followed suit eight days later, citing improving net interest margin estimates, lower funding costs and reduced risk expenses at the Riyadh-based lender. Deutsche Bank AG and Dubai-based Arqaam Capital have Al Rajhi as one of their “top picks” among Saudi stocks."



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Monday, 21 August 2017

New law sets framework for excise tax collection in the UAE | GulfNews.com

New law sets framework for excise tax collection in the UAE | GulfNews.com:

"The new Excise Law or Federal Decree-Law No. 07 of 2017 sets the framework for the imposition and administration of excise duties in the UAE. The new legislation requires excise tax to be imposed on certain activities around specific excise goods, activities such as the production or import of excise goods in to the UAE, as well as the stockpiling of these in the UAE. The due tax is the responsibility of the person who conducts any of these activities. The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) may exempt a person from registration, but not payment of tax, if they can demonstrate that they will not regularly import excise goods. However, anyone who has been exempted from tax registration must immediately inform the authority of any changes to his/her circumstances that would make them subject to tax."



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Saudi to transfer airports to sovereign fund in privatization drive

Saudi to transfer airports to sovereign fund in privatization drive:

"Saudi Arabia plans to transfer ownership of all its airports to its main sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, as part of a drive to privatize them, a senior aviation official said on Monday. Companies will be set up for each airport under Saudi Civil Aviation Holding, a spin-off from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), which will continue to regulate the industry, state news agency SPA quoted Mohammed al-Shetwey, aide to GACA's president for financial affairs, as saying. "The process of establishing companies will continue for all airports, and the civil aviation holding company in the future will be 100 percent owned by the Public Investment Fund," Shetwey said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs shine in Saudi, trading volume shrinks in Qatar

MIDEAST STOCKS-REITs shine in Saudi, trading volume shrinks in Qatar:

"Real estate investment trusts were some of the top gainers on Saudi Arabia's stock exchange on Monday, a day before the listing of a new trust, but bourses in the region were generally sluggish, especially Qatar. All four listed REITs were among the 10 most heavily traded shares in Riyadh, where the main index edged up 0.2 percent. Al Jazira Mawten REIT jumped 9.6 percent. Jadwa REIT Haramain Fund rose 1.3 percent. The trust said it would distribute a cash dividend of 0.1 riyal per share for the 75-day period to June 30."



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Will China buy Saudi Aramco?

Will China buy Saudi Aramco?:

"The planned sale of a 5 per cent stake in the Saudi state oil company Aramco is still in limbo. There is no clarity on where it will be listed, on its value or, most important, on how the rights of minority shareholders can be protected in an entity that will be 95 per cent owned by the Saudi government. The volatility of politics in Riyadh over the last few months, centred around the transfer of power from the former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef to the 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, has not helped. The question now is whether the sale will go ahead or not. There is a lot at stake. Saudi Arabia is rapidly running through its financial reserves and needs the revenue, especially given the persistence of dissent within the country over any attempts to impose austerity. The Vision 2030 plan to transform the economy cannot be properly funded without the proceeds of the Aramco sale."



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Law firm quit as Barclays adviser over Qatar loan fears

Law firm quit as Barclays adviser over Qatar loan fears:

"Linklaters, the big British law firm, resigned from advising Barclays over a controversial loan to Qatar at the heart of a $1bn lawsuit over fears it would be illegal, court documents have claimed. Barclays instructed the law firm to advise it on the $3bn loan it made at the height of the financial crisis, just as the Gulf state was investing in the bank as part of an £7.3bn emergency cash call to avoid a state bailout. But Linklaters quit the brief over worries that it “would involve unlawful financial assistance by Barclays for the purchase of its own shares”, it has been alleged. The fresh claims are contained in new documents filed this month in the High Court by PCP Capital Partners, the firm founded by financier Amanda Staveley, which is suing the bank over the events in 2008. PCP claims Barclays paid Qatar £2.4bn in secret side arrangements and undisclosed fees, which had the effect of limiting the amount of its own money that Qatar ploughed into the bank."



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UAE GDP to expand by 2.9 per cent in 2018 as oil production returns to growth - The National

UAE GDP to expand by 2.9 per cent in 2018 as oil production returns to growth - The National:

"The UAE's economy will expand by 2.9 per cent in 2018 as oil production returns to growth, according to BMI. The economy will expand after curbs in oil production are expected to slow down the economy this year to 2.2 per cent growth this year, from a previous forecast of 2.8 per cent. The Arab world's second largest economy, grew 3.0 per cent in 2016. The UAE reduced its oil production as part of an agreement reached by OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries in late 2016. That agreement was extended a further nine months in May 2017, which will slow down the economy this year. "



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Emirati investors anticipate Saudi market bonanza | GulfNews.com

Emirati investors anticipate Saudi market bonanza | GulfNews.com:

"The Saudi equity market is set for a boost as it heads for possible inclusion in MSCI’s influential emerging market index in 2018. “In the meantime, active Emirati investors could reap early gains as corporate earnings should start increasing this year,” said Shakeel Sarwar, Head of Asset Management at SICO BSC. “The market has moved sideways in the first half of 2017 after the spectacular 30 per cent rally late last year. However, the latter part of the second half could again be an interesting period for the market. The key catalysts for another rally are going to be FTSE- and MSCI-related developments.”"



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Gulf weathers global financial crisis but oil did not | Arab News

Gulf weathers global financial crisis but oil did not | Arab News:

"Ten years ago this month is taken by most economic commentators as the beginning of the global financial crisis, often labelled these days the “GFC”. When an event has its own acronym, you know it must be significant. After months of worry about falling asset values, tighter credit conditions, and declining equity prices around the world, it was a relatively minor event at a French bank, BNP Paribas, that blew the whistle on global financial markets.  The bank froze some $2.5 billion of assets, citing “evaporation of liquidity”, and that was that."



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REFILE-Etihad Airways sets new CEO deadline, may join late 2017

REFILE-Etihad Airways sets new CEO deadline, may join late 2017:

"Etihad Airways has delayed the appointment of its new group chief executive to late 2017 with the hiring of a new boss nearly finalised, the airline said on Monday. In May, Abu Dhabi's Etihad appointed executive Ray Gammell as interim Group CEO to replace veteran CEO James Hogan who left on July 1. At the time, Etihad said it was in the "advanced stages" of hiring a permanent successor and would make an announcement "in the next few weeks". A source aware of the matter told Reuters that a new group CEO has been hired and would be joining after three months, without giving a name. The source declined to be named as the matter is not yet public."



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Funding squeeze hastens take-off of non-bank lending in Middle East

Funding squeeze hastens take-off of non-bank lending in Middle East:

"Middle East investment companies are ramping up their lending to businesses, providing a lifeline for small and medium-sized firms struggling to secure finance from banks that tightened credit after a suffering rise in bad loans. Industry participants estimate non-bank lenders in the region could provide around $1 billion over the next three to five years, including secured loans, mezzanine debt, preferred shares and convertible loans and bonds. That's a small slice of the global industry; private debt funds, the other name for non-bank lenders, distributed $58 billion in capital worldwide in the first half of 2016, according to financial data firm Preqin."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar underperforms peers, stable oil prices help Saudi petchems

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar underperforms peers, stable oil prices help Saudi petchems:

"Qatar's bourse underperformed its neighbours in early trade on Monday while Saudi Arabia's index rose slightly, helped by robust oil prices. Qatar's index was down 0.5 percent as 70 percent of the 20 most valuable shares declined. Vodafone Qatar fell 0.6 percent, wiping out Sunday's 0.5 percent gain. Dubai's index edged down 0.1 percent as 12 shares declined, including builder Drake & Scull, which fell 0.8 percent. DSI said on Monday it was seeking shareholder approval to convert the company into a sharia-compliant entity."



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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Dana Gas moves to lift court injunction in sukuk case - The National

Dana Gas moves to lift court injunction in sukuk case - The National:

"Dana Gas, a Sharjah-based oil and gas exploration firm, has filed an application with the emirate’s Federal First Instance Court to lift an injunction, protecting it against claims related to its US$700 million Islamic bonds or sukuk. Dana, which is embroiled in a row with its bondholders on restructuring of the outstanding sukuk, had received the Sharjah court injunction on 13 June, but moved to discharge it in compliance with a London court order, the firm said on Sunday in a statement to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), where its shares are traded. The injunction by the Sharia-court in Sharjah restrained the Trustee, the Delegate, the Principal Security Agent and others from taking any legal action against the company until pronouncement of final judgement by the Sharjah court in relation to the sukuk."



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The best is yet to come for Air Arabia - The National

The best is yet to come for Air Arabia - The National:

"It seems like yesterday that the Arab world’s first low cost carrier took to the skies. Fourteen years later, Adel Ali the Bahraini chief executive and British Airways veteran is all smiles. His journey and that of Air Arabia, the largest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa, haven’t been as choppy like some of the region’s other carriers. The track record of the airline has been impressive. The Sharjah-based carrier has been profitable since it started operations in October 2003. This month it beat analyst estimates and reported a 21 per cent increase in second quarter net profit after serving more than 2.05 million passengers. By comparison Etihad Airways reported a $1.87 billion loss in 2016, Emirates, the largest airline in the world by passenger traffic, reported an 82.5 per cent annual decline in earnings and low-cost carrier flydubai recognised a 69 per cent drop in its 2016 earnings. "



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UAE banks poised for strong H2 performance | GulfNews.com

UAE banks poised for strong H2 performance | GulfNews.com:

"Financial results of UAE banks in the second quarter of this year point to improving profitability, modest balance sheet growth, margin expansion and improving costs, according to banking sector analysts.
While the underlying trend of a turnaround in growth and profitability is in its early stages, analysts say these are sustainable.

“The UAE banks generally reported good second-quarter results, driven by improving credit environment and some margin expansion, with Dubai banks showing relatively better balance-sheet growth than Abu Dhabi banks. We expect earnings to further improve in the second half of 2017 supported by increased credit appetite, [a] consistent decline in credit costs and [a] June rate hike,” Jaap Meijer, head of Equity Research at Arqaam Capital.
"



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Foreign funds for Iran's oil sector a top priority: Oil Minister

Foreign funds for Iran's oil sector a top priority: Oil Minister:

"Attracting foreign investment for Iran’s oil sector will continue to be a top priority during President Hassan Rouhani’s second term, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Sunday.

"Attracting foreign investment and technology is a priority for us in the oil industry, whether in shared fields or for increasing the production of oil at fields that are already operational," he said during a live television interview on state TV.

Zanganeh, who won parliamentary approval on Sunday to stay on as oil minister, has been credited with increasing Iran's crude output since many global sanctions were lifted last year following an international deal on Iran's nuclear program."



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Dubai exchange, Saudi firm plan sharia-compliant spot gold contract

Dubai exchange, Saudi firm plan sharia-compliant spot gold contract:

"The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange and Saudi Arabian conglomerate Ayedh Dejem Group plan to develop and launch the Middle East's first sharia-compliant spot gold contract to be traded on an international exchange, they said on Sunday.

"We are looking at this product to develop local markets and unlock the potential of gold trading in the region," said Gaurang Desai, chief executive of the exchange, adding that he hoped it would attract new institutional investors to trade.

Ayedh Dejem is a major transporter of fuel by road in Saudi Arabia. The statement did not give any details of the new contract or a timetable, but said global Islamic finance consultants Amanie Advisors would advise on the initiative."



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Goldman Sachs gets approval for Saudi equities trading license

Goldman Sachs gets approval for Saudi equities trading license:

"Goldman Sachs (GS.N) received approval on Sunday to trade equities in Saudi Arabia, joining the growing band of western investment banks and fund managers expanding in the kingdom.

Western financial institutions have been looking to tap new opportunities in Saudi Arabia since the government unveiled plans for oil giant Saudi Aramco's $100 billion initial public offering and introduced reforms to attract foreign capital as part of moves to reduce the economy's dependence on oil.

Goldman, which has been operating in the kingdom since 2009 as an agent and underwriter, applied to the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) for a license to trade equities, sources told Reuters in June."



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Little-Known Qatari Sheikh Embraced by Saudi in Surprise Move - Bloomberg

Little-Known Qatari Sheikh Embraced by Saudi in Surprise Move - Bloomberg:

"A little-known Qatari sheikh has been thrust into the limelight as a Saudi Arabia-led bloc tries to wring concessions from his nation to end the political feud dividing the Persian Gulf. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Thani, a descendant of Qatar’s founder, was welcomed warmly in Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then jetted off to Morocco, where Saudi King Salman hosted him at his vacation spot in Tangier. And while the Qatari government said the sheikh was on a personal visit, some media outlets close to the alliance portrayed his meetings as a triumphant diplomatic effort. Sheikh Abdullah said King Salman and his son agreed to open Qatar’s only land border, snapped shut on June 5, to allow Muslim pilgrims to travel to the holy city of Mecca. The king even offered to dispatch planes at his own expense to fly in others and set up an operations center under the sheikh’s command to help Qataris entangled in the crisis."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf finds support from robust oil price, Egypt declines

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf finds support from robust oil price, Egypt declines:

"Most stock markets in the Gulf rose modestly on Sunday, lifted by a rally in oil prices at the end of last week, while three small to mid-sized Saudi Arabian insurers fell sharply after they were slapped with a temporary ban by the central bank.

Riyadh's index added 0.4 percent as all but two of the 14 listed petrochemical producers advanced after Brent oil surged 3.3 percent on Friday. Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical rose 1.6 percent.

Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance dropped 3.8 percent, Malath Cooperative Insurance fell 4.5 percent and Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance slumped 7.6 percent."



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Dubai still in lead, but race for Gulf financial supremacy is hotting up | Arab News

Dubai still in lead, but race for Gulf financial supremacy is hotting up | Arab News:

"The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) last week gave an update on the impressive plans it has to expand — both physically and commercially — as part of a 10-year plan that aims to triple its size by 2024. On the real estate side of the strategy, work is progressing well. The two big flagship projects are: A $280 million plan to link the current Gate complex with the southern end of the DIFC jurisdiction via an avenue of commercial, retail and leisure facilities; and a new $50 million office block addition to the Gate Village complex. Both will open in the first half of next year, according to Nabil Al-Kindi, the DIFC’s real estate chief. That progress is matched by advances on the financial business side. Nearly 22,000 people now work at the center, making the 2024 target of 50,000 eminently achievable; there are some 463 financial firms registered at DIFC, against a target of 1,000 in seven years; assets under management — also forecast to triple — got a big boost last year when HSBC moved its Middle East headquarters to DIFC."



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Gulf project awards slumped in H1 but will pick up: MEED study

Gulf project awards slumped in H1 but will pick up: MEED study:

"Contracts awarded to build economic projects in the Gulf's rich Arab oil exporting states slumped in the first half of this year but are expected to pick up in the second half, a data service tracking the industry said on Saturday.

Awards in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council dropped to $56.1 billion in the January-June period from $69.3 billion a year earlier, according to MEED Projects. Low oil prices have forced governments in the region into tough austerity policies.

With the exception of Saudi Arabia, where contract awards rose 12 percent from a year ago to $15.8 billion as the government showed signs of spending a little more freely with a modest improvement in its budget position, awards fell in every GCC state."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Three Saudi insurers sink, region mostly quiet

MIDEAST STOCKS-Three Saudi insurers sink, region mostly quiet:

"Three small to mid-sized insurance companies fell sharply in a rising Saudi Arabian stock market on Sunday morning after they were slapped with a temporary ban by the central bank, while the rest of the region barely moved in lethargic trade. Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance dropped 6.7 percent, Malath Cooperative Insurance fell 5.5 percent and Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance slumped 8.3 percent. The central bank said was temporarily banning those insurers from selling vehicle policies because of "serious breaches" in their car insurance practices. Of the 30 other listed Saudi insurers 12 were down and 13 rose including medical insurer Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance, up 5.2 percent."



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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Crude Market Shows Enduring Strength Beyond Seasonal Peak - Bloomberg

Crude Market Shows Enduring Strength Beyond Seasonal Peak - Bloomberg:

"The market for physical barrels of crude from places as far apart as Oman and Colombia is strengthening beyond the traditional seasonal peak in demand, a positive indicator for global benchmark futures prices that remain stuck near $50.

Physical differentials -- the price gap between individual grades of crude and widely traded markers like Brent or West Texas Intermediate -- have strengthened over the last two weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s happening even for barrels due to be shipped in late September and October, typically a period of weaker demand due to seasonal refinery maintenance.

"The improvement seen in the physical crude market is persisting beyond the usual summer demand season," said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd."



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