Global Markets update:
At the start of last week it seemed that global stocks were heading for a strong performance as trade tension between US and China were defused by Trump. But subsequently the cancellation of the meeting with North Korea’s President triggered a flight to safety. A rebound came on Friday, as North Korea sounded more conciliatory. After such a rollercoaster, Wall Street closed with a modest weekly gain and emerging markets ended almost flat. In Europe, however, the worries over the populist government in Italy and a spate of weak macro data took their toll and the main indices fell. A similarly uninspiring mood, coupled with the uncertainties over the Korean peace process, affected Tokyo’s bourse. Regional markets despite weaker oil prices benefited from the awareness that the worst is over, although Oman and Bahrain did not join the party. In currency market, the dollar continued its advance over the euro, but the yen recorded a mighty comeback, thanks to strong trade data. The oil market took a pause as US crude inventories rose by 5.8 mb (vs forecast of a 1.9 mb decline) and Russia and Saudi Arabia’s contemplate a relaxation of the production cuts. The gold price, after sliding for several weeks, was lifted by the renewed Korean quagmire.
Tourism revenues in Egypt surged 83% YoY to USD 2.2bn in Q1 this year, thanks to the 37.1% rise in number of tourists to 2.38mn during the same period.
Qatar bans the sale of goods imported from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt: the move comes a few days before the 1-year anniversary of the embargo.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister stated that the Aramco IPO could be delayed till 2019, citing “readiness of the market” as the key factor for timing of the issuance.
UAE and Qatar (ranked 7 and 14 respectively, and up 3 places from the previous edition) were among the top 15 nations in IMD’s World Competitiveness ranking for 2018, in the list topped by US, Hong Kong and Singapore. IMD disclosed that most countries in the Middle East overcame political tensions in the region to register improvements in their competitiveness. More: https://www.imd.org/wcc/world-competitiveness-center-rankings/world-competitiveness-ranking-2018/
The UAE Cabinet announced that skilled professionals including doctors and engineers would be given a 10-year residency visa, in a bid to attract and retain skilled talent. The other major change is allowing investors to own 100% of a company in the country (compared to the requirement of a 51% local partner currently). Implementation of these changes is expected by end of this year. (A detailed analysis of the proposed changes appeared in The National: https://www.thenational.ae/business/comment/reform-of-uae-s-ownership-and-residency-laws-will-only-improve-growth-prospects-1.733540
The move to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership could see an immediate impact across all non-oil sectors - retail, manufacturing, with health and education potentially being the “quick-win” sectors, along with the hospitality and real estate (given that longer-term residency would be an incentive for expats to own homes and businesses).
All UAE companies and individuals who raise tax invoices in a currency other than the UAE dirham (AED) will have to use the exchange rates approved by the Central Bank as on the date of supply. The currency exchange rates are updated Monday to Friday and are based on forex rates prevailing at 6pm UAE time each day.
UAE and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax evasion.
UAE issued a ministerial decree governing the employment terms of UAE citizens in the private sector, including pension and termination rules. Private companies have to register Emirati employees in the national pension scheme and need to prepare an end-of-service report upon termination, also stating the reasons for such a step.
The UAE saw a 101% YoY increase in the number of Emiratis hired in the private sector (by 5531) during January – April this year. This compares to only a 3.38% rise in Emiratis employed in the private sector (to 23,930) last year.
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Global Markets update: