Global Markets Update:
The US Fed is upbeat on the economic outlook and the monetary policy normalisation is likely to be more aggressive than markets anticipate i.e. higher rates and declining balance sheet without major disruptions to the economy and asset prices. US and European equity markets faltered again at the start of last week, hit by disappointing earnings reports, but recovered towards the week’s end closing almost unchanged. In the fixed income market (Bonds) the US 2-year Treasury yield was at its highest in more than 9 years and the 10-year yield was close to 3% which is seen as a major threshold. Regional stock market (except Oman and UAE) benefited from the capital flows into emerging markets. The US dollar recovered from a three-year low, and the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, rose for five consecutive days (its longest daily gains sequence since December) and strengthened especially after the publication of the US FED meeting minutes which depicted a rosy picture of the US economy. Oil prices continued to rebound helped by another million barrel decline in US inventory and by the Saudi oil minister who asserted that: a) oil market inventories will keep declining and b) output cuts might ease in 2019 without affecting significantly oil prices. Gold prices ended the week on the back foot, while the volatility of gold futures touched a yearly record, as uncertainty over the dollar, higher bond yields and the path of the US rate hikes confounds traders.
Bahrain will proceed with implementing the value-added tax, revealed the finance minister, stating the “aim to have everything set up by the end of 2018”.
A new plan is in the offing to boost Bahrain’s SMEs’ share of exports to 20% in five years, from 8% currently. The plan will provide SMEs the right ecosystem, including supportive legal framework that includes the development of laws like bankruptcy and insolvency, as well as channels of financing and support for exports.
Saudi women no longer need the permission of a male guardian to start their own business, according to the ministry of commerce and investment.Saudi Arabia approved a bankruptcy law, taking a step further in the reform process already underway. Outlining bankruptcy procedures for settlements and liquidation for individuals, local and foreign companies, the law also has a provision whereby the approval of a debt restructuring deal could be achieved if at least two-thirds of creditors approved the plan.
The UAE has announced a new initiative called “100 days for Emiratisation in three fields” – which aims at creating jobs for Emiratis in fields of communications, construction and property development, aviation and transportation.
S&P Global Platts will use the blockchain-distributed ledger technology to allow market participants to submit weekly oil storage data to Fujairah Oil Industry Zone (Foiz) and the regulator, FEDCom. New supply, geopolitical risks and VAT could result in a 10-15% decline in Dubai real estate prices over the next two years, according to S&P.
Around 150 projects worth AED 82bn (USD 22.34bn) were registered in Dubai last year, and 90 were completed, according to the Dubai Land Department. Separately, according to industry sources, the real estate regulator is proposing that developers can launch sales on off-plan projects only after 50% of the construction has been completed.
Careem, a Middle East competitor to Uber Technologies, acquired RoundMenu and anticipates trialing food delivery services through the restaurant listing and reservation online platform from this month.
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Global Markets Update: