UAE’s PMI dropped below 50 in January for the first time since August 2009: the January reading of 49.3 (Dec: 50.2) was a result of falling new orders, weaker business confidence, and a contraction in employment.
UAE discovered 80trn cubic feet of gas reserves in Jebel Ali – the largest discovery in 15 years and the 4th biggest gas field in the Middle East (behind Qatar’s North field, Iran’s South Pars and Abu Dhabi’s Bab field). It opens the potential to acquire gas self-sufficiency as well as enter the LNG market which requires onshore LNG liquefaction.
Dubai approved a new package of fee waivers for various government services: it covers services provided by 5 sectors – health, economic, marine, social and infrastructure. This follows similar previous announcements to reduce the costs of doing business in the emirate.
Trademark files registered in Dubai at the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection reached 5,157 in 2019 (+34% YoY); 50 commercial agency files were also registered (+127%).
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office expanded the scope of its AED 535mn Ventures Fund to include investment in later-stage companies.
Foreign Direct Investments in Dubai’s real estate market grew to AED 106bn in 2019 from AED 90.5bn in 2018. UAE, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and UK were the top nationalities investing in Dubai real estate while investments by women grew by 26.2% to AED 27.5bn last year.
The ruler of Sharjah has directed the appointment of 2,500 citizens across various government departments this year.
Real estate exposure of UAE banks is about 20% of total lending or AED 333bn as of September 30, according to S&P Global Ratings; the sector is likely to remain resilient given sufficient loan-loss reserves compared to the 2009-2010 crisis times.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has installed more than 240 charging stations across the emirate and plans to raise this to 300 by the end of 2020. DEWA has extended free electric vehicle charging (at public stations) until the end of 2021 for private users.
GDP in Egypt is forecast to accelerate to 5.8% this year from 5.6% in 2019, supported by growth in the tourism, construction, and oil and gas sectors, according to the African Development Bank. It will also account for 1/3-rd of the aggregate growth of 3.4% in Africa.
Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund signed a deal with the National Service Products Organisation (affiliated to the Ministry of Defence) to help in restructuring and marketing some of its assets and subsidiaries to private investors.
Bilateral trade between Egypt and Singapore touched USD 1bn, with the focus on consumer and agricultural products, while investments in Egypt crossed USD 500mn, according to the Singapore ambassador.
The value of bilateral trade between Egypt and Switzerland grew to USD 917mn in 2019, up from USD 905mn the year before. Switzerland is the 16th top investor in the country, with total investments of USD 2.144bn in 433 projects.
Revenues from Suez Canal increased by 6.1% YoY to USD 497.1mn in January, with 1,645 vessel crossings. In 2019, revenues grew by 1.3% to USD 5.8bn.
Japan announced a new assistance package for Jordan to the tune of USD 15.6mn, with the aim to support organisations implement projects which offer humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees and host communities.
Oman announced that visas issued for sales representative/ promoters and purchase representatives in the private sector would not be renewed on expiry.
Stock markets recovered last week though posting losses on Friday on heightened fears of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the global economy. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted weekly gains, the former biggest since June 2019 and latter since November 2018; Europe’s Stoxx also reported the biggest weekly gain since November 2018. China and Hong Kong markets opened after an extended Lunar New Year holiday but posted weekly losses as the virus death tolls rose. Regional markets ended the week in the red (also given the disappointing earnings season so far) while Egypt posted gains; Aramco hit its lowest level since it started trading. On the currency front, emerging market currencies were the worst performers (Singapore dollar and Thai baht after central bank moves to coronavirus impact) while yen closed just above a 2-week low. Oil prices dipped on lower demand worries – Brent posted a 5th consecutive weekly drop – and gold gained.
Concerns about the coronavirus’ (nCoV) impact on global economic growth gain traction, with the recent death toll already surpassing that of SARS (in 2003, when China was less interconnected to the rest of the world).
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