The market braces itself for the UK triggering Article 50 as BREXIT approaches…

SME Snapshot - weekly round-up of Global, MENA and SME news in under 60 seconds. Published by Business Exchange Bureau.

The market braces itself for the UK triggering Article 50 as BREXIT approaches…

Global Markets Update:
Last saw the February Non-Farm Payrolls (NFP) numbers released in the US. This is a highly significant release as it shows the number of new jobs created outside of farm workers. The Non-Farm Payroll report, because of its importance to the reserve currency, tends to move all markets: currencies, equities, treasuries, interest rates, and commodities. The US economy grew by a healthy 235,000, well ahead of expectations. However, US stock market indices had a negative week, also pulling down emerging markets. Regional markets, on the other hand, were badly affected by the slide in the oil price. In currency markets, the euro surged after the ECB signalled that deflation is over. Oil prices, which had been under pressure for a while, plunged when data showed a larger-than-expected 8.2 million barrel build-up in U.S. crude oil inventories (reaching the highest level on record). Brent Crude closed the week at a 3-month low of The magic period of gold is coming to end as the price retrenched towards #1,200/Oz.

MENA Update:
According to Aramco’s CEO, the company will be listed both locally and abroad (“on one or perhaps two bourses”) in H2 2018. Separately, an EFG Hermes survey finds that around 40% believe that the market would value Aramco at between USD 1-1.5trillion.
Iraq is expected to receive GBP 10bn from Britain in loans to finance infrastructure projects over a 10-year period, according to Iraq’s acting finance minister. However, only British companies can be contracted to carry out projects funded by these loans.

Sector News:
Revenue from tourism in Jordan picked up by 12.2% YoY to USD 368mn in Jan, while remittances inflow was up 4.2% to USD 296mn. Total income from tourism and remittances amounted to USD 664mn in Jan (+8.5%) versus a total USD 8bn in 2016.
Kuwait plans to spend USD 38bn on infrastructure projects this year, across housing (5% of total spend), power (33%), hydrocarbon (28%) and transport (34%).
Saudi Arabia’s top 10 construction projects are worth USD 92bn in total, according to a BNC report on mega projects.
The Dubai Economy Tracker index eased to 56.2 in Feb, down from the two-year high of 57.1 in Jan. Wholesale and retail was the best performing category for the first time in six months (index at 58.3), followed by travel and tourism (index at 57.0).

SME News:
The American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain (AmCham Bahrain), hosts of this year’s AmCham MENA Regional Council’s Annual Forum, have confirmed that a number of large US business delegations and high ranking government officials are set to attend the Forum which is set to take place in the Kingdom of Bahrain on 15 to 16 March 2017.
The Forum, which aims to promote the expansion of trade and investment between the markets of the MENA region and the US, will this year focus on SMEs: Unlocking Economic Potential in the MENA Region, and will be significantly enhanced by the presence of major US business leaders across key sectors to include financial services, industry, technology, retail, hospitality, F&B, real estate and many others. Among the major US companies to be represented include Mondelez, Olayan Kimberly-Clark, General Electric, Microsoft, TransCentury, USG Boral, Citi.

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