Global Markets Update:
Markets were dominated by ongoing domestic pressures with the US Presidency and action taken in Syria. Last week US equities were influenced mainly by the raiding by the FBI of Trump’s personal lawyer, the vagaries of the trade war rhetoric, the FOMC minutes and Trump’s threat of an imminent military strike in Syria which could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia. As a result, Wall Street started the week on the back foot, but as military action failed to materialize, by the weekend the main indices recorded substantial gains of roughly 2%. Other major bourses in Europe, Japan and major emerging markets, followed the lead from the US to close also in positive territory. Regional markets, with the exception of Oman and KSA were also pushed higher by the cheerful mood. However, in bond markets the US yield curve flattened to a point last seen in 2007 after the release of the FOMC minutes. Despite the turmoil, movements in currency markets turned out to be limited, but overall euro positive and yen negative. Oil prices were again pushed up by the mounting geopolitical tensions in Syria, with Brent closing 8.15% higher, at $72.58. Gold prices oscillated during the week in response to the threats of US strikes in Syria, but ended the week little changed.
Iraq exported nine shipments of natural gas condensates and 21 shipments of gas liquids in Q1 this year, according to its oil ministry and main gas processing company. Totaling 188,838 cubic metres of condensates in Q1; it was all exported to the UAE.
New oil price-linked royalties applied to all of Aramco’s oil production: according to Bloomberg, a new levy on revenue was created, with a marginal rate of 50% when crude rises above USD 100 a barrel; this replaces a 20% fixed levy on revenue which has been in place for decades.
More than 350,000 new jobs are likely to be created in Saudi Arabia, with 140k of these going to Saudi citizens, according to an official report issued by the General Authority for Statistics. Unemployment rate among Saudis increased to 12.7% in Q1 this year; of the 906,552 Saudis seeking jobs, more than three-quarters are women.
Real estate transactions in Dubai totaled AED 58bn through 13,759 transactions in Q1 this year, according to the Dubai Land Department. UAE nationals invested AED 4bn via 1587 transactions, followed by Indians (AED 3bn through 1550 transactions) and Saudis (AED 1.3bn).
Guarantees provided by the UAE-based banks increased to AED 389.4bn (USD 106bn) in February, from AED 388.98bn in January. At end-Q4, bank guarantees were at AED 384.47bn.
Sales at the Dubai Duty Free increased by 11% YoY to AED 1.91bn in Q1 this year. Monthly sales were in excess of AED 600mn, with an average daily sale of AED 21.23mn and March posted a new monthly sales record of AED 660.36mn.
Nearly 275,000 companies and individuals have registered for the Value-Added Tax with the UAE Federal Tax Authority in the 100 days since the beginning of the year. According to the FTA, VAT compliance ratio was 98.8%. As many as 77 tax agents have passed the FTA exam while 21 are currently registered.
The UAE approved a draft law on equal pay for equal work: this was announced by the UAE’s Vice-President and Prime Minister on his Twitter handle.
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Global Markets Update: