Global Markets update:
Last week equity markets shrugged off the concerns about the trade wars, which has come to be perceived as a sort of soap opera. Wall Street saw a rebound of tech stocks and the main indices hit fresh all time intraday records pulling up most major bourses especially Tokyo which recorded a stellar performance. Even emerging markets indices gained for 4 days in a row with China’s shares finally regaining ground. Regional markets however did not follow the upbeat mood, with the exception of KSA which benefited from the oil price uptrend. The Egyptian bourse has managed so far to stay under the radar throughout the emerging-market rout, but now the difficulties in financing the government debt have focused the attention on a dire situation. Interestingly, the strength in global equities induced a global selloff in bonds. In currency markets the USD retrenched to a 2-month low against the EUR and the GBP experienced its biggest one-day drop vis à vis the USD in over a year following the defiant statement by PM May on a hard Brexit. The Brent oil price touched again USD 80/b after Saudi Arabia signaled that it would be comfortable with oil prices above USD 80/b and therefore is not contemplating a supply boost. Today the UAE energy minister stated that OPEC reached a “level of comfort” on inventory levels. Gold prices had a little jolt, but it appears that USD 1200/ounce is a solid cap for now.
Tenders for the construction of the USD 1bn King Hamad Causeway – connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia – are likely to be issued in the coming months, as work is expected to begin in 2021 with completion expected in 3 years.
The value of real estate trades in Kuwait reached around KWD 857mn (USD 2.8bn) in Q2, with private housing sector up 2.4% and compared to a pickup of 3.1% in the overall real estate sector.
Ten major projects with investments worth SAR 685bn (USD 183bn) were announced on the occasion of the Saudi National Day. It was also revealed that the private sector’s contribution to real GDP doubled to around USD 336mn in 2017.
About 60k expats work in Saudi Arabia’s public sector, accounting for under 5% of total government employees (1.23mn), according to a report from SAMA. Saudi women holding government jobs increased by about 0.4% YoY to reach 476,000 last year.
Saudi Arabia welcomed over 11mn tourists over the summer months, generating revenues of SAR 13.5bn (USD 3.6bn), up 12% over the previous year; foreign tourists undertook more than 2.3mn tourist trips inside the country, up 21.2% YoY.
More reforms announced in the UAE: a new law grants a 5-year residency for retired expats (those with either property investment of AED 2mn+, or financial savings of AED 1mn, or with an active income of AED 20k+) with “the possibility of renewal, according to specific conditions”. Separately, announcing the Ghadan 21 or “Tomorrow 21” plan, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince revealed a AED 50bn stimulus plan for the Abu Dhabi economy including allowing licensed companies to trade without a physical office, the launch of a Credit Guarantee Scheme to ease access to finance for SMEs, a PPP law to be issued soon, and accelerating the process to issue building permits within 10 days among others.
Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announced the launch of a digital sandbox, which facilitates open collaboration between financial institutions, Fintech firms, and regulators to test and adopt innovative digital financial products and services.
Expat remittances from the UAE grew by 13.1% YoY to AED 88bn (USD 24bn) in H1 2018, with remittances growing 8.8% to AED 44.4bn in Q2, according to central bank data. Remittances to India accounted for the bulk share (AED 17.32bn, or 39% of total remittances in Q2), followed by Pakistan (AED 3.55bn, 8.5%) and Philippines (AED 3.15bn or 7.1%).
Chinese buyers purchased properties worth at least AED 2.64bn (USD 720mn) last year in the UAE, according to the 2018 Chinese Global Property Investment Report. This is part of global investment in overseas property by the Chinese worth USD 119.7bn (+18.1% YoY).
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Global Markets update: