Global Markets update:
The Brexit saga continues with S&P warning about downgrades for some British companies in a no-deal Brexit – and possibly even lowering the UK’s credit rating. Weakening growth worries amidst unresolved trade tensions played havoc with global equity markets last week, with most markets closing lower, including the MSCI global stock gauge which posted the first weekly drop this year. Earnings have also disappointed: Europe seems to be on track for its weakest quarter for earnings growth in three years, while Q1 earnings from S&P 500 companies is expected to post the first such quarterly profit decline since 2016. In the region, Qatar was the worst performer last week while most other major markets (except Oman) closed higher. The dollar edged higher reporting the strongest week in six months, while both the pound and the euro fell. An anticipated decline in global demand for oil led to a weekly loss in oil price (WTI posted the steepest decline this year; Brent was down by more than 1%), while gold prices were supported by safe haven demand.
Saudi Arabia attracted USD 43bn worth of foreign investment between 2013 and 2017, from 493 investments made by 361 foreign firms, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s total savings surged by 24.3% YoY to SAR 758.92bn (USD 202.38bn) in January-September 2018, according to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics’ data.
MENA’s M&A deal value surged by 68.7% YoY to USD 26.76bn in 2018, disclosed Mergermarket. The uptick was driven by increased deal-making in the UAE, where it more than doubled to USD 10.4bn in 2018. Cross-border MENA deals, which totalled 77 deals worth USD 14.21bn, recorded the highest volume of inbound M&A on record and the highest value since the global financial crisis.
The HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey ranked Bahrain second and UAE fourth among the best destinations for expat careers this year. The list was topped by Germany, while UK was placed third and Switzerland 5th.
Six Saudi and Emirati banks will participate in the launch of the common digital currency project “Aber”, revealed the UAE central bank. The joint venture is scheduled to be completed within 12 months.
Bank lending in the UAE increased by 4.8% YoY to AED 16.56trn as of December 2018, according to the central bank. While bank lending to the government sector rose 9.2% YoY to AED 1.91trn at end- 2018, loans to the private sector grew by 4% to AED 11.3trn.
Dubai announced plans to spend AED 2bn over 4 years to develop an e-commerce free trade zone, spanning 920k square metres, with construction set to begin this year.
The total number of operational restaurants and cafes in Dubai touched 11,813 in 2018, with new restaurants and cafes rising by 9.7% to 1109. The total number of workers in active restaurants and cafes reached 151,127, with an average of 13 workers per restaurant or cafe.
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Global Markets update: