Global Markets update:
Overall, the US economy is in good shape and remains in a late-cycle expansion, while in Europe the weakness of the first half of the year is deepening. In China the macro data point at a stabilization of activity thanks to the authorities’ credit policies that aim at selectively supporting the most dynamic parts of the economy. Among the G7 only the U.S. and Japan kept their stable outlook, while the indicator indicates a slowdown for the UK, Germany, France, and the euro area as a whole. The week started on a weak note on Wall Street, but then broadly positive US macro data and news of a trip by US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to China for trade policy negotiations lifted the mood of investorsRegional markets were mixed with Egypt hit by data on the increase in foreign debt and Oman pulled up by the oil price rally. In currency markets the euro rebounded against the dollar while the yen took a blow. The GBP advanced on hopes that the Brexit process will not be disorderly. The Brent crude price after flirting in midweek with the pivotal level of USD 80/b retreated to close the week almost unchanged but close to a multiyear high thanks to concerns on Iran sanctions and Venezuela supply disruptions, declining inventories (US crude reserves fell by -5.3 mn barrels, vs prediction of -1.6 mn barrel) and fears over the effects of the hurricane Florence. Gold prices are consolidating their downward trend.
Bahrain will hold its parliamentary elections on 24th November. The country has been holding parliamentary and municipal elections regularly every four years since 2002.
Egypt announced new import tariffs on consumer goods, including an additional 20% tariff on machinery and equipment imported by tourist establishments, as well as increases to fruit juices and baby formula. In a bid to support local industry, tariffs on production materials used by companies that assemble goods locally was reduced.
The petroleum ministry disclosed that Egypt signed a deep-water oil and gas exploration deal with Royal Dutch Shell and Malaysia’s Petronas worth around USD 1bn for 8 wells in the West Nile Delta; a second USD 10mn deal was signed with Rockhopper, Kuwait Energy and Canada’s Dover Corporation for exploration in the Western Desert.
About 33% of middle-market businesses in Saudi Arabia anticipate over 10% growth this year, and six in ten are targeting a growth of 6-10%, according to the latest edition of the EY Growth Barometer. 82% of CEOs expect to have deployed AI by 2020, and over one third (35%) of Saudi respondents regard regulation as the top driver of innovation, up 28 percentage points from last year.
Abu Dhabi issues new rules to lower business costs: it modified the calculation mechanism of the billboard fees whereby the issuance and renewal of all kinds of economic licenses will be charged a fixed fee of AED 200; furthermore, new licenses were exempt from the fees charged by the Center of Waste Management Abu Dhabi and the need to obtain a No Objection Certificate for the first year.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market launched its framework to regulate crowdfunding operators of private financing platforms serving equity investment, debt financing and trade receivables funding needs of start-ups, private enterprises and SMEs.
The construction and real estate sector in the UAE received the largest funding from the banks during H1 2018, according to the central bank. Registering an increase of AED 8.5bn from end-2017, the sector received a funding of AED 306.6bn this year, followed by the trade sector (up AED 4.5bn to AED 157bn) and the water and electricity sector (up AED 1bn to AED 17.7bn).
About 47 projects were completed in Dubai this year (till end-Aug), adding 14,000 different properties to the market, including 10,000 apartments, 364 residential complexes, 2,258 townhouses, and 1,575 villas, according to the director general of the Dubai Land Department.
The UAE passport has been ranked the 9th most powerful passport globally, with visa-free entry to 157 countries worldwide. Singapore and Germany top the list with visa-free scores of 166 and 165 respectively.
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Global Markets update: