Global Markets Update:
Fears over a trade war that had subsided at the beginning of the week were once again the catalyst of a global equity market drop in mid week. However, last Friday, a stellar US jobs report and news of a direct negotiation between US and North Korea leaders reignited investors’ confidence on Wall Street and in all major bourses and emerging markets, particularly in Asia. Nasdaq touched an all-time high as the tech sector rebounded. Regional markets displayed remarkably diverse performances with Egypt and Saudi benefiting from the bullish mood, while Qatar felt again the consequences of isolation and the rest of the GCC remained on the fence. In currency markets the euro went ballistic in reaction to the removal of QE easing bias, however, as Draghi underscored that inflation is still below target and that further changes to forward guidance were not discussed, the euro retrenched and closed the week almost flat against the dollar. The threat of a trade war lingered over the yen, which lost all the ground gained on the dollar since the end of February. The oil market, after three days of losses, surged on Friday in the wake of global optimism. Gold prices on the contrary were almost frozen.
A range of new laws in the pipeline in Bahrain including a revised bankruptcy law, new trust laws and limited liability partnership laws, will support the start-up ecosystem, disclosed a top Economic Development Board official.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt set up a USD 10bn joint fund to develop the planned mega-city, Neom, during the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Egypt.
Saudi Arabia and UK target GBP 65bn (USD 90.29bn) in trade and investment ties in the coming years, it was announced during the Saudi crown prince’s visit to the UK. Separately, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority announced granting of Saudi investment licenses to 10 UK businesses.
Inflation in Abu Dhabi more than doubled to 4.7% in January (when the VAT was introduced), from December’s 2.0%. January inflation was reportedly the highest level since 2015: food and drink prices were up 7.1% YoY and transport prices increased by 13.2%, but a weak real estate market helped: rents were down 2.7% YoY.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) attracted 315 new companies in 2017, and reported a 25% YoY increase in net profit to USD 99mn. The total number of registered firms grew to 1853, of which financial service sector firms were 473.
Visitors from the GCC account for more than one-third of the hotel occupancy levels in UAE’s Northern Emirates: in Fujairah, GCC residents accounted for 39% of the emirate’s total occupancy levels, 34% in Ras Al Khaimah and 34% in Sharjah, and this trend is expected to continue.
Dubai plans to permit transit passengers to tour the emirate: currently a transit passenger spends AED 9 within the airport versus a potential of up to AED 1,000 spend while touring the city. Of the more than 50mn passengers transiting through Dubai, an estimated 46mn do not visit the city.
According to new regulations from UAE’s National Media council, social media influencers promoting brands or businesses or related activities for cash will need to get a media license.
The US State Department approved USD 270.4mn worth of foreign military sales to UAE, including training missiles, tactical guidance units, and spares and support, reported Reuters.
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Global Markets Update: