Global Markets Update:
The macro data last week did not alter the global economic outlook which was also confirmed by the new IMF World Economic Outlook: developed economies and China are performing in line with expectations growing at a healthy pace. The damage inflicted to international trade by the tit-for-tat trade war between US, China and other key exporters is starting to surface, but at present it is not severe enough to derail the course of events. The main risks over the medium term are related to the normalization of monetary policy and its effects on interest rates. The week started with gains in the US, European and Japanese stock markets thanks to a strong corporate earnings reports, but towards the weekend the mood soured. Some equity markets in emerging Asia suffered heavy losses due to geopolitical tensions and a sell-off in technology shares, thereby pushing down the MSCI EM. Regional markets (with the exception of Oman and Abu Dhabi) recorded gains in response to oil prices well above USD 70/barrel; moreover Saudi senior figures mentioned that oil prices could revert to USD 100/b, while an extension of the current output cuts is openly debated among major oil producers; finally if the US pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, sanctions could be reinstated on oil exports as early as May. Gold, in the absence of strains in financial markets, traded within a narrow price range.
The IMF, in its latest World Economic Outlook, places growth in the MENA region at 3.2% this year, thanks to recovery across both the oil exporters (non-oil sector support) and importers (increasing external demand and impact of reforms); the World Bank estimates growth to touch 3.1% this year, from 2% last year, thanks to a re-start of post-conflict reconstruction.
Iraq has resumed war reparation payments to Kuwait for the Gulf War: USD 90mn was the latest payout, and with this, the United Nations Compensation Commission has paid out USD 47.9bn in total.
UAE was the second-largest investor in renewable energy sector in the Middle East and Africa region last year, investing AED 8bn (USD 2.2bn), behind Egypt’s AED 9.5bn investment. The region also saw asset finance increase by 48% to USD 7.4bn last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Careem was hit by a cyberattack that compromised the data of 14 million users. Names, email addresses, phone numbers and trip data were stolen, though the firm says credit card and passwords were uncompromised.
Non-Arabs will no longer need a UAE residence visa to purchase a property in Sharjah, reported Khaleej Times, citing Tilal Properties director general. In 2014, Sharjah had opened up allowing expat investment in real estate subject to a mandatory UAE residence visa.
Emirates NBD announced the integration of blockchain technology into their cheques, to strengthen authenticity and minimise fraud. “Cheque Chain” enables a unique QR code to be printed on every leaf of newly issued cheque books.
Aldar Properties announced that the foreign ownership limit had been raised to 49% from 40% presently; non-Arab foreigners now hold 25.66%.
The UAE cabinet has given the green light for preparations to grant entry visas for transit passengers across all UAE airports. About 70% of total passengers passing through the UAE’s airports in 2017 were transit passengers.
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Global Markets Update: