Global Developments Bottomline: China’s GDP was one of the major data releases last week: the PBoC said that “economic growth is resilient”, and repeated earlier assurances that it would not resort to “flood-like” monetary stimulus measures. Though still in contractionary territory, German and Japanese PMIs ticked modestly higher from Mar, offering hope that there are some green shoots.
- Bahrain reported Q4 economic growth rates with the nation growing by a reported 4.6% yoy in real terms and by 6.5% in current prices. In real terms, the non-oil sector grew by 3.2% while the oil sector surged by 11.3%.
- Egyptians began voting on the referendum which could potentially extend President Sisi’s stay in office till 2030.
- Moody’s upgraded Egypt’s rating to B2; changed outlook to stable from positive.
- The Central Bank of Egypt plans to re-introduce a mortgage financing initiative aimed at helping to finance mid-income housing units; funding will be offered at a 10.5% interest rate.
- Egypt signed an agreement with Euroclear: this will allow holders of sovereign debt to clear transactions outside the country beginning in six months’ time.
- The Suez Canal Authority aims to raise the Suez Canal’s revenues by USD 1bn, according to its Chairperson. Suez Canal’s revenues touched EGP 76.14bn during Jul 2018 -Mar 2019.
- Iraq exported 3.25mn barrels per day (bpd) from its southern ports so far this month, according to industry sources. Oil exports averaged 3.377mn bpd in Mar, from Feb’s 3.62mn bpd.
- Kuwait’s trade surplus plunged 48.3% yoy to $197mn in Mar due to weaker exports.
- About 14,828 unemployed citizens are registered at Kuwait’s Civil Service Commission; of this, 8-9k hold intermediate and elementary school certificates.
- Kuwait introduced a healthcare fee of $33 for expats when getting medical treatments from polyclinics, in a bid to ease congestion at public hospitals.
- Lebanon will discuss the draft 2019 budget – which has penciled in lower government spending and is based on an economic growth forecast of 1.5% – at a Cabinet session on Tues. The new draft budget projects a deficit of less than 9% of GDP compared to 11.2% in 2018 and also a primary surplus compared to a deficit in 2018. Last year’s budget deficit was estimated at USD 6.7bn, or 11% of GDP, though the final figures have not yet been released.
- Lebanon plans to issue Eurobonds in the range of USD 2.5-3bn on May 20 to finance state needs, disclosed the finance minister.
- Lebanon’s parliament passed amendments necessary to implement a plan to restructure the electricity sector. The plan would improve power supplies (aims to add 1,450 megawatts of temporary power to the grid by next year), raise electricity tariffs and reduce the fiscal deficit resulting from government transfers to state-run EDL.
- Lebanon’s Consumer Confidence index averaged 75.5% in Q1 this year (picking up in Feb, before dipping again in Mar) and was unchanged from Q4 2018.
- S&P cut its outlook on Oman to negative from stable, citing absence of “substantial fiscal measures”; it affirmed its “BB/B” long- and short-term foreign & local currency sovereign credit ratings.
- Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed 13 cooperation agreements across areas like trade, energy and political cooperation though no further details were given.
- Saudi Arabia’s PIF is in discussions with banks to raise a short-term bridge loan to the tune of USD 8bn for new investments, reported Reuters.
- Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fell by 277k barrels per day (bpd) to 6.977mn bpd in Feb, according to data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative.
- Unemployment among Saudis edged down to 12.7% by end-2018 from 12.8% in 2017; female labour force participation increased to 20.2% last year from 19.4% the year before. Youth unemployment remained high at 36.6% last year, though down from 2017’s 42.7%.
- Saudi Arabia’s Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers’ application for a financial restructuring procedure (under the bankruptcy framework) was rejected by the court; it had earlier applied for a “protective settlement procedure” which was also rejected.
- The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage – which offers loans to hotel and tourism projects – confirmed that it had secured SAR 1.1bn (USD 293mn) in financing for 33 hotel and tourism projects in 12 areas.
- Saudi Arabia raised the local price for Octane 95 gasoline to SAR 2.10 from SAR 2.02 last quarter and Octane 91 to SAR 1.44 from SAR 1.37; this went to effect from Apr 14.
- As per a Strategy& study, scale-ups (i.e. SMEs with a proven business model that are poised for exponential growth and economic stimulation) generate on average 3.4 times more revenues and 8 times more jobs than SMEs. UAE and Lebanon top the MENA scale-ups readiness index.
- Abu Dhabi nominal GDP grew by 14.4% yoy to AED 931bn (USD 253.47bn) in 2018, thanks to a 35.7% surge in mining and quarrying activity while non-oil activities rose 3.5%.
- Abu Dhabi changed its real estate ownership law to allow foreigners full ownership of property in designated investment zones. Previously, property ownership was allowed only for UAE and GCC nationals.
- The contribution of the construction and building sector to Abu Dhabi’s FDI picked up by 5% yoy to AED 6bn in 2018.
- UAE’s current account surplus increased by 37.6% yoy to AED 139mn or 9.1% of GDP last year, according to central bank data. Oil and gas exports rose by 13.9% while non-oil exports increased by 2.1% last year.
- The Expo 2020 is expected to boost UAE GDP by nearly AED 62.2bn (USD 16.9bn) during 2021-2031, according to EY’s “The Economic Impact of Expo 2020 Dubai” study. The ‘legacy’ phase of the Expo (i.e. post Expo) is expected to have the largest impact at 50.7% of the total.
- New business licenses issued in Dubai touched 7418 as of Apr 15th, with total licenses rising 3.3% to 260,998.
- The total value of conventional bonds and Sukuk listed on Nasdaq Dubai increased to USD 77.47bn, according to a statement issued last week.
- The “Global Wealth Migration Report” for 2019 revealed that UAE attracted approximately 2000 High Net Worth Individuals last year (each with at least USD 1mn worth of assets) while the number of affluent migrants increased by 2% yoy.