Global Markets update:
Company Earnings dominated the US equity markets after a sluggish start of the week and propelled the Nasdaq to a record close on Wednesday. But then the disappointing quarterly reports by Facebook and Twitter led to a retrenchment. In fact, tech stocks suffered huge losses with Facebook holding the record for worst one-day market cap loss in the history of American stocks. Netflix, Facebook and Twitter lost a combined US$133.38 billion in market cap the day after they reported earnings. In Europe and Japan the mood was not affected much by the US tech sector debacle and the main indices ended in positive territory. Even the Chinese bourse (lifted by the announcement of a stimulus package) and most emerging markets are getting out of the bear territory. In currency markets the main crosses, after choppy trading, ended the week with little changes. The dollar index remained close to a 12-month high hit earlier this month. The oil price after wild movement on Monday, rose steadily throughout the week helped by a 6.1 mn barrels drop in US crude oil inventories, vs predictions of a 2.2 mn barrel draw, trading at around $74 a barrel. The price of gold declined again and is now hovering just above the critical psychological level of USD 1200 per ounce.
The US lifted restrictions on USD 195mn in military aid for Egypt. This amount was part of the US government’s fiscal year 2016 budget.
Egypt and US inked USD 45mn in grants spanning the fields of agriculture, higher education, science, technology, health, and governance. This includes a USD 5mn grant for the health ministry and a USD 27mn grant for the higher education ministry.
Jordan is the only Arab country that exports more pharmaceuticals than it imports: the nation consumes only 25-30% of locally manufactured medicines and exports the rest to over 60 nations.
Jordan has approved the United Nations’ relocation of around 800 Syrians on “purely humanitarian grounds” to the UK, Canada and Germany within a precise timeframe.
Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended oil shipments through a strategic Bab El-Mandeb Red Sea lane following attacks on its oil tankers, pushing Brent crude futures up.
Personal wealth in the Middle East increased by 11% to USD 3.8trn in 2017, according to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group. Personal wealth in Bahrain has grown at 7% last year, while in Saudi Arabia it was up only 3%. However, it is expected to accelerate at a CAGR of 5% in Saudi, reaching USD 1.15trn in investable assets by 2022
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development will implement seven of the 10 strategic initiatives announced as part of AED 50bn stimulus package. This will include allowing non-Emiratis to establish car rental companies with Emirati partners for the first time, permitting entrepreneurs to work from home, and granting dual licenses for companies to operate in and outside free zones in addition to initiatives that will focus on simplifying the process of receiving commercial licenses.
Access to adequate banking services was identified by 65% of survey respondents as the number one challenge for start-ups and emerging companies, in a study by the Dubai Chamber. The banking sector however highlighted a lack of awareness on the basic requirements from the start-ups as a major cause for delays. Finance (61% of respondents) and lack of affordable office space (53%) were some of the other reported challenges; in addition, the difficulty of procedures due to insufficient guidance, lack of clarity, and a complex documentation and verification process were also highlighted.
A new decree in the UAE allows school pupils aged 15 and above to work paid part-time jobs during holidays.
An agreement between Saudi Arabia’s biggest travel group (Al Tayyar Travel Group) and Dubai Tourism is likely to attract more Saudi visitors to the Dubai emirate. It was revealed that online travel platforms Almosafer and tajawal, owned by Al Tayyar, will be used to implement the new strategies.
The Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority reported a 14% YoY increase in international visitors in H12018, with international markets accounting for 66% of visitors. Russian visitors surged by 50%, Germany (the second largest source market) by 4% while growth from the GCC nudged up by 4.6% (Saudi visitors top the list).
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Global Markets update: