<![CDATA[rss-Business & Economics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Business & Economics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[NBE collects $13.5B in foreign currencies 11 months]]>
The NBE collected LE 330 billion ($18 billion) from the “Platinum” certificates with interest rates of 16 and 20 percent and investment certificates (Group B) in 11 months.

In July, NBE said that it will

hike its interest rates

on

savings accounts

by 0.5 percent as of August.


The move comes in response to the Central Bank of Egypt’s decision to raise interest rates by 200 basis points on July 7. ]]>
9/26/2017 2:29:01 PM
<![CDATA[Mulla, Technip top official review progress in Medor lab expansion]]>
The Italian company is carrying out expansions of Medor lab and establishing a complex for diesel oil hydrogen cracking at an oil refinery lab in the Upper Egypt governorate of Assiut, the minister said in a statement.

The two projects with 3.7 billion dollar investment are vital for securing needed fuel supplies for local market and cutting imports.

The Medor lab expansion will up the lab's refining capacity by 60 percent to stand at 175,000 barrels per day, he said. Petroleum Minister Tareq Mulla reviewed on Tuesday with Marco Villa, the President of Technip Region EMIA(4), the progress realized so far in two projects being implemented by the company.

The Italian company is carrying out expansions of Medor lab and establishing a complex for diesel oil hydrogen cracking at an oil refinery lab in the Upper Egypt governorate of Assiut, the minister said in a statement.

The two projects with 3.7 billion dollar investment are vital for securing needed fuel supplies for local market and cutting imports.

The Medor lab expansion will up the lab's refining capacity by 60 percent to stand at 175,000 barrels per day, he said.]]>
9/26/2017 1:45:55 PM
<![CDATA[EGPC plans oil, gas exploration auction in 2017]]>CAIRO – 26 September 2017: The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) is preparing to hold a new auction for oil and gas exploration before the end of 2017, company chairman Abed Ezz El-Regal said in a statement.

The EGPC is waiting for the completion of technical procedures and the attainment of approvals from relevant entities to hold the auction, Ezz El-Regal said; adding that this comes within a plan to increase crude oil output.

Foreign firms have entered in 83 agreements for oil and gas exploration and production with the Ministry of Petroleum since the June 30 Revolution of 2013, Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla said this week.

In August, Molla signed new three oil and gas exploration agreements in the Western Desert with a total value of $81.4 million in investments.

The agreements were signed between the EGPC, Royal Dutch Shell and Apex to drill 16 new wells using $23.2 million.
]]>
9/26/2017 1:00:21 PM
<![CDATA[METALS-London copper, zinc recover in line with oil]]>
"A generally stronger session overnight for the commodity complex. With no key economic data expected today, the focus is likely to remain on supply dynamics and geopolitical developments," ANZ said in a report.

FUNDAMENTALS

* LME COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper rose 0.8 percent to $6,506 a tonne by 0715 GMT, having closed flat in the previous session. Prices fell to the lowest since mid-August at $6,366 a tonne on Friday.

* SHFE COPPER: Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rose 1 percent to 50,640 yuan ($7,645) a tonne.

* SHFE METALS: Shanghai zinc rallied 2.7 percent, helped by a recovery in Shanghai rebar, which climbed 1.3 percent.

* CHINA GROWTH: The Asian Development Bank raised its outlook for China's economic growth this year on the back of strong domestic consumption, an export recovery and solid growth in services.

* OIL: Oil markets took a breather on Tuesday after prices jumped more than 3 percent in the previous session, with Turkey threatening to cut crude flows from Iraq's Kurdistan region to the outside world.

* BAUXITE: Bauxite mining companies have resumed normal operations in Guinea's Boke region as local authorities try to negotiate a definitive end to unrest that has disrupted production for more than a week, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

* TC/RCS: Tighter copper supply and an increase in refining capacity in top-consumer China should result in lower treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) by smelters, the chief executive of Chilean miner Antofagasta PLC told Reuters on Monday.

* MINING PERMITS: Brazil will reinstate a mining ban in a vast area of the Amazon rainforest, the government said on Monday, in an about-face that is a victory for environmentalists who feared deforestation.

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares withered on Tuesday and the yen firmed against the backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and as investors awaited fresh signals about the U.S. monetary policy outlook.

COMING UP: U.S. New home sales Aug at 1400 GMT

PRICES

0711 GMT

Three month LME copper 6505.5

Most active ShFE copper 50640

Three month LME aluminium 2148

Most active ShFE aluminium 16510

Three month LME zinc 3126.5

Most active ShFE zinc 25610

Three month LME lead 2501

Most active ShFE lead 20820

Three month LME nickel 10585

Most active ShFE nickel 84520

Three month LME tin 20735

Most active ShFE tin 147180


LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 241.76

LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -19.26

LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 813.39

LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 215.87

LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 1627.3
2
($1 = 6.6228 Chinese yuan)
]]>
9/26/2017 12:08:07 PM
<![CDATA[Ghana's central bank keeps policy rate unchanged at 21 pct]]>9/26/2017 11:56:40 AM<![CDATA[Oil demand may exceed supply by up to 4 million bpd by 2019: Trafigura]]>
“When we count up the barrels across the next couple of years, we are coming up short,” said Ben Luckock, Trafigura’s co-head of group market risk, at an industry conference in Singapore.]]>
9/26/2017 11:51:56 AM
<![CDATA[Alstom, Siemens shares slip as rail deal looms]]>
Alstom shares initially rose but then surrendered those gains, with the stock down 0.1 percent in early session trading and Siemens falling a similar amount. Alstom shares had rallied strongly in earlier sessions on anticipation of a deal.

Siemens is expected to decide on Tuesday to pursue a transaction with Alstom rather than Canada’s Bombardier (BBDb.TO), two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Siemens and Alstom are strong in high-speed intercity trains with their ICE and TGV models. Siemens is also the leader in signaling technology, while Bombardier - whose transportation headquarters are in Berlin - is stronger in commuter and light-rail trains.

Major train and rail technology groups active in Europe have been looking at combining their businesses as larger Chinese state-backed rival CRRC (601766.SS) embarks on a global expansion drive.

A Franco-German deal between Siemens and Alstom would also have political ramifications, since the French government has a 20 percent stake in Alstom.

Several politicians and French trade union activists expressed concerns over France losing control of its TGV high-speed train – a symbol of national pride that has highlighted French engineering skill – and possible job losses.

“The problem is that at the end of the day, it would likely be a Siemens company, although we still need clarification on the capital structure,” said Prime Partners fund manager Francois Savary, whose firm holds some Siemens shares.

French right-wing politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan criticized the likely deal on Tuesday as being more favorable for Germany rather than France, as did far-right politician Nicolas Bay, the National Front’s secretary general.

“The Franco-German partnership must not result in the eradication of French industry!” Bay said on Twitter.

Eric Woerth, of the right-wing Republicans’ party, voiced similar views on his Twitter account.

“Is this now the end of Alstom? Will TGV become German? Why does the government accept such an imbalance?”

A tie-up between the two companies - aimed at creating a European champion in the railway sector similar to Airbus (AIR.PA) in aviation - would represent a reconciliation of sorts between Siemens and Alstom.

Alstom snubbed the German company in 2014 to sell its energy division to General Electric (GE.N) in a deal that also saw Paris take a 20 percent stake in Alstom, under a temporary agreement with construction group Bouygues (BOUY.PA).

Siemens Mobility is expected to be merged into Alstom, in which Siemens would hold 50 percent plus one share, while the chief executive would be Alstom’s current boss Henri-Poupart Lafarge.

“We suggest that, if they participate, value creation would be limited for Siemens but material for Alstom,” said Exane BNP Paribas analysts, upgrading their rating on Alstom to “neutral” from “underweight”.]]>
9/26/2017 11:48:08 AM
<![CDATA[UPDATE 1-Afreximbank lead arranger for $1.8 billion Zimbabwe arrears loan -state paper]]>
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said last week the southern African nation had negotiated a cheaper loan to pay the arrears - a crucial step for it to regain access to global financing sources - but did not give details.

“Afreximbank (Africa Export and Import Bank) is the lead arranger to secure funding for the repayment of our arrears of $1.8 billion,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The bank has become the largest foreign lender to President Robert Mugabe’s government in the last four years.

Chinamasa was not immediately available for comment.

Zimbabwe was shut out of international debt markets after defaulting on foreign payments in 1999 and has a foreign debt of $7 billion, half the size of its economic output.

Afreximbank provided a $200 million guarantee for Zimbabwe’s surrogate “bond note” currency and will more than double that facility to $500 million this year, the central bank has said.

It also agreed last month to lend $600 million to help replenish Zimbabwe’s foreign bank accounts.]]>
9/26/2017 11:45:02 AM
<![CDATA[Gold steady near 1-wk high on North Korea worries]]>
Spot gold was nearly unchanged at $1,310.01 per ounce at 0636 GMT, after earlier marking its highest since Sept. 20 at $1,313.54. It gained over 1 percent in the previous session.

"The sharp sell-out in the equity market and rising risk aversion (are driving up gold prices)," said Richard Xu, a fund manager at China's biggest gold exchange-traded fund, HuaAn Gold.

North Korea's foreign minister said on Monday that a weekend tweet by President Donald Trump counted as a declaration of war on North Korea.

"Gold will continue to be headline-driven in the short term," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with OANDA.

Gold is used as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

Asian shares withered and the yen firmed against the backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and as investors awaited fresh signals about the U.S. monetary policy outlook.

Investors awaited a speech on "inflation, uncertainty, and monetary policy" by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in Cleveland at 1645 GMT.

On Monday, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said there was no need for the Fed to raise interest rates further as he sees no evidence recent weak inflation data is set to improve.

"Chinese real estate developers getting hit pretty badly (on Monday) because of the curbing of property sales and the downgrade of China's sovereign rating are also causing people to rethink their risky positions," said Xu at HuaAn Gold.

China and Hong Kong shares fell on Monday, led by property stocks after some cities imposed new housing controls to hose down an overheated market. They were also weighed down by Standard & Poor's downgrade of China's sovereign credit rating last week.

Spot gold may test support at $1,252 in three months, a break below which could trigger a further drop towards the next support level at $1,174, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.

Meanwhile, silver was little changed at $17.18 per ounce. In the previous session, prices rose over 1 percent to register their biggest intra-day percentage gain since Sept. 7.

Platinum climbed 0.4 percent to $943.70 per ounce, after also registering its biggest one-day percentage gain since Sept. 7 in the previous session.

Palladium rose 0.8 percent to $917.90 per ounce.]]>
9/26/2017 11:42:39 AM
<![CDATA[Dubai airport passenger traffic up 6.6 pct in August, busiest month on record]]>
The number of passengers travelling through the airport increased 6.6 percent to 8.23 million compared to the same month a year ago, operator Dubai Airports said in a statement on Tuesday.

August is the third time this year the airport has seen record monthly passenger traffic, beating July’s 8.07 million and January’s 8.04 million.

The number of passengers per flight increased 7.2 percent to 246, however, flight movements - or landings and take-offs - declined for the fourth consecutive month.

Flight movements were down 1.7 percent to 34,370.

The most popular destinations by passenger volume were London, Kuwait, and Mumbai, and the airport handled 221,508 tonnes of cargo, which was 10.1 percent more than the same month a year earlier.

Dubai Airports’ statement did not mention the regional crisis, which has seen the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states ban flights to and from Qatar.]]>
9/26/2017 11:37:16 AM
<![CDATA[Kuwait wealth fund assets grew over 34 pct in 5 years-finmin]]>
Speaking at a Euromoney conference, Saleh described the state’s reserves and assets, managed by the KIA, as representing a “safety valve” for the economy during times of crisis as well as a nest egg that would provide for future generations.

“The growth in assets achieved by the (Kuwait Investment) Authority over the past five years is more than 34 percent,” he said. He did not disclose the size of the assets.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute ranks KIA as the world’s fourth-biggest sovereign fund, managing $524 billion.

A KIA statement carried out by the country’s state news agency earlier this year implied the fund had assets of about $515 billion as of March 2016.

Among KIA’s high-profile investments, it owns 6.8 percent of German automaker Daimler AG and stakes in major Kuwait-based firms such as 18.4 percent of Kuwait Finance House , according to Thomson Reuters data. ]]>
9/26/2017 11:33:22 AM
<![CDATA[BHP, world's largest miner, says 2017 is 'tipping point' for electric cars]]>
“In September 2016 we published a blog and we set the question - could 2017 be the year of the electric vehicle revolution?” said Balhuizen, a company veteran who runs BHP’s commercial strategy, procurement and marketing from Singapore.

“The answer is yes...2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about. And copper is the metal of the future.”

Europe has begun a dramatic shift away from the internal combustion engine, although, globally, there are only roughly 1 million electric cars out of a global fleet of closer to 1.1 billion.

Balhuizen said in the nearer term, over the next 10 to 15 years, improvements in the internal combustion engine will be a more significant drag on demand.

BELT, ROAD

China’s efforts to build a new Silk Road are another major factor influencing commodities demand in the near term, and BHP estimates the impact on steel alone at 150 million tonnes of new demand, Balhuizen said, mostly to be used in structures and reinforced concrete. Spending could top $1.3 trillion.

China produced just over 800 million tonnes of steel in 2016.

There is little question Asia requires more spending on infrastructure - the Asian Development Bank estimates that Asia requires $26 trillion in infrastructure investment by 2030. Per year, that is more than double current spending, BHP said.

Belt and Road, as the giant initiative is known, is a “tremendous opportunity”, he said, acknowledging that there was a risk that big slogans may struggle to translate to profit.

Along with the rest of the commodities universe, BHP has benefited from rising prices over recent months - copper, for example is close to three-year highs, boosting cashflows.

The return of growth has not turned BHP away from its push for efficiencies, Balhuizen said, including with instruments like blockchain, although the focus remains on easier wins like e-documentation.

But efficiencies will not mean further reducing the portfolio of commodities for now, he said, brushing off criticism from some investors over BHP’s oil assets.

“The diversity of our portfolio does create value. We get better credit ratings, we get a lower cost of debt,” he said, pointing to applications in potash of techniques honed in oil.

“It is very tangible, very clear.”
BHP forecasts that could rise to 140 million vehicles by 2035, a forecast it says is on ‘the greener’ end.

“The reality is a mid-sized electric vehicle still needs subsidies to compete... so a lot will depend on batteries, on policy, on infrastructure,” Balhuizen said.

Electric cars are expected to soon cost the same as traditional vehicles - as early as next year by some estimates. But governments are also getting on board, with China’s subsidies leading the way and Britain becoming the latest country to announce its all-electric ambitions in July.

Balhuizen said he expected the electric vehicle boom would be felt - for producers - first in copper, where supply will struggle to match increased demand. The world’s top mines are aging and there have been no major discoveries in two decades.

The market, he said, may have underestimated the impact on the red metal: fully electric vehicles require four times as much copper as cars that run on combustion engines.

BHP, Balhuizen said, is well-placed, with assets like Escondida and Spence in Chile, and Olympic Dam in Australia. BHP said last month it was spending $2.5 billion to extend the life of the Spence mine in northern Chile by more than 50 years.

For oil, though, the impact of the electric car boom may take longer to be felt.

]]>
9/26/2017 11:28:08 AM
<![CDATA[MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil near $60 may support Gulf bourses]]>
Saudi Arabia’s stock market index fell 1.4 percent on Monday, diverging from Brent oil, amid rumours that index compiler FTSE might not upgrade Riyadh to emerging-market status as quickly as hoped.

At the end of the business day on Sept. 29, FTSE will announce its decision on whether to include Saudi Arabia in its secondary emerging market index - although capital inflows would not occur until the decision actually takes effect, probably in late 2018.

“Today, some investors may hunt for bargain stocks after most of the companies that were likely to make it into FTSE, saw their prices drop between 1-2 percent,” said a Riyadh-based equity portfolio manager.

Brent oil surged 3.8 percent overnight to settle at $59.02 a barrel after major producers said the global market was on its way to rebalancing, and the commodity continued to climb early on Tuesday.

This may bode well for other markets in the region, but gains may be capped by rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s foreign minister said on Monday that a weekend tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump counted as a declaration of war on North Korea and that Pyongyang reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if they are not in its air space.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last down 0.7 percent. ]]>
9/26/2017 11:25:01 AM
<![CDATA[Euro hits one-month low after worst day of 2017]]>
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who won a fourth term in elections on Sunday but now faces a tough juggling act to form a government with other parties, on Monday struck a note of caution with respect to French calls for fiscal union.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who wants a fundamental overhaul of the European Union’s single currency zone and whose ideas include creating a euro zone budget and a euro zone finance minister, will lay out his plans in a speech in Paris on Tuesday.

But the results of Germany’s election have forced Merkel to consider a new coalition including the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), a party critical of Macron’s ideas on Europe, and investors are therefore worried the reforms that they would welcome will not end up going through.

The euro slipped as low as $1.1811 EUR= in morning trade in London, its weakest since Aug. 25, after falling around 0.9 percent on Monday - its heaviest one-day loss since December.

Commerzbank currency strategist Thu Lan Nguyen, in Frankfurt, said hopes for greater euro zone integration had been the main cause of a more than 10 percent appreciation by the euro against the dollar since the first round of France’s presidential election.

“The euro has been appreciating since the French elections because of the push by Macron for fiscal union,” she said. “There is some uncertainty (over that) in the market now against the background of the German elections.”

The euro faced additional pressure on Monday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi singled out currency volatility as a source of uncertainty that required monitoring and argued that “ample” ECB accommodation was still needed, because a premature and hasty move could unravel its work.

The euro had risen to a 2-1/2-year high of $1.2092 soon after the ECB’s Sept. 7 policy meeting, with euro bulls buoyed by the central bank’s signal of an eventual end to its large bond-buying scheme, while the dollar’s weakness has also helped.

YELLEN EYED

The dollar was flat at 111.73 yen JPY=, having earlier dipped against the Japanese currency as worries over North Korea flared up again amid an escalating war of words between it and the United States.

The yen made sharp gains versus the greenback on Monday after the North Korean foreign minister said President Donald Trump had declared war on the country and that Pyongyang reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if not in its air space.

“The dollar tends to fall on flare-ups in North Korean-related matters, but whether the Federal Reserve can hike interest rates in December as they projected still remains the ultimate decider (of dollar direction),” said Shin Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies but is heavily skewed towards the euro, hit its highest in four weeks .DXY.

Immediate focus was on what views might be expressed by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who is due to speak in Cleveland at 1645 GMT on “inflation, uncertainty, and monetary policy.”

New Zealand's dollar extended the previous day's slide and was down 0.6 percent at $0.7223 NZD=D4, having sunk after New Zealand's National Party won the largest number of votes in Saturday's election but not enough seats to govern outright. ]]>
9/26/2017 11:22:40 AM
<![CDATA[MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf rises in early trade as crude oil scales two-year highs]]>
Brent oil surged 3.8 percent overnight to settle at $59.02 a barrel after major producers said the global market was on its way to rebalancing, and the commodity traded near that level on Tuesday morning.

Riyadh’s index rose 0.5 percent as all 13 petrochemical shares that were trading on Tuesday morning rose, including bellwether Saudi Basic Industries which was up 1.0 percent.

The main stock index had dropped 1.4 percent on Monday, diverging from Brent oil, amid rumours that index compiler FTSE might not upgrade Riyadh to emerging-market status on Sept. 29.

Other stocks which had been hit on Monday were also up, including dairy maker Almarai, which rebounded 0.6 percent.

Qatar’s stock index was up 0.6 percent, heading for its sixth consecutive session of gains. Commodity linked shares were some of the top performers, with oil and drilling service provider Gulf International Services added 3.5 percent.

The Dubai index was up 0.3 percent as 12 shares rose and 10 others declined.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas rose 1.4 percent, recovering slightly from its steep declines, as a London court hearing resumed on Monday on its maturing sukuk issue.

The main index was flat.]]>
9/26/2017 11:15:17 AM
<![CDATA[China state-owned firms' profits up 21.7 percent in January-August]]>
Total profits stood at 1.9 trillion yuan ($287.27 billion) in January-August, while revenue rose 15.5 percent to 33.08 trillion yuan.

State firms’ liabilities rose 11 percent from a year earlier to 96.49 trillion yuan at the end of August, the ministry said.]]>
9/26/2017 10:20:35 AM
<![CDATA[North Korea risks support yen, euro struggles near 4-week lows vs dollar]]>
The dollar was 0.15 percent lower at 111.550 yen JPY= after coming off a high of 112.530 the previous day.

The euro was steady at 132.340 yen EURJPY= after dropping more than 1 percent overnight.

The Japanese currency made sharp gains after North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said on Monday that President Donald Trump had declared war on the country and that Pyongyang reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if they are not in its air space.

Japan is the world’s largest creditor nation and traders tend to assume Japanese investors would repatriate funds at times of crisis, thus pushing up the yen. Many wonder, however, if Japanese assets would really remain in favour if an actual war broke out in Asia.

The Swiss franc, also sought in times of geopolitical tensions, stood at 0.9662 franc per dollar CHF= after gaining about 0.3 percent overnight.

“The dollar tends to fall on flare ups in North Korean-related matters, but whether the Federal Reserve can hike interest rates in December as they projected still remains the ultimate decider,” said Shin Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

Immediate focus was on what views could be expressed by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who is due to speak in Cleveland at 1645 GMT on “inflation, uncertainty, and monetary policy.”

The euro was 0.1 percent higher at $1.1857 EUR= but in close reach of $1.1832, its lowest level since Aug. 31 plumbed the previous day when it sank nearly 1 percent.

The common currency took a knock after German Chancellor Angela Merkel won her country’s elections over the weekend but saw a chunk of support shift to the far right.

The euro faced additional pressure after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi singled out currency volatility as a source of uncertainty that required monitoring and argued that “ample” ECB accommodation was still needed, because a premature and hasty move could unravel its work.

The euro had risen to a 2-1/2-year high of $1.2092 soon after the ECB’s Sept. 7 policy meeting. Euro bulls were buoyed by the central bank’s signal of an eventual end to its large bond-buying scheme, while the dollar’s weakness has also helped.

At the same time the 10-year German bund yield DE10YT=TWEB hit a two-month low as the debt markets interpreted the ECB’s message differently, seeing the central bank taking a cautious and patient approach to tapering its stimulus.

But the divergence between the euro and German yields that occurred has narrowed since.

“It was hard to see the euro and yields continuing to move in different directions, which was only possible as some speculators appeared to have gone to great lengths to push the euro higher,” said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

“But these euro long positions are beginning to become untenable as the dollar is stronger and U.S. yields are higher after the Fed’s policy meeting this month.”

The New Zealand dollar extended the previous day's slide and was last down 0.2 percent at $0.7249 NZD=D4.

The kiwi sank 1 percent overnight after New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English’s National Party won the largest number of votes in Saturday’s election but not enough seats to rule outright, leaving investors likely facing weeks of political horse-trading before a government is formed.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade lower at 92.573 .DXY after rising 0.5 percent the previous day to a three-week high of 92.724.]]>
9/26/2017 10:17:14 AM
<![CDATA[Alibaba takes control of logistics business, pledges $15 billion to expand network]]>
Alibaba is investing 5.3 billion yuan in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network to boost its stake to 51 percent from 47 percent. The investment would value Cainiao, a joint venture of top Chinese logistics firms, at around $20 billion.“Our commitment to Cainiao and additional investment in logistics demonstrate Alibaba’s commitment to building the most-efficient logistic network in China and around the world,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as Alibaba is rapidly expanding its e-commerce and logistics network abroad, including newly announced direct sales channels in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, facilitated by a $2 billion investment in Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group.

Alibaba’s latest investment in Cainiao also signals its intention to boost control over the domestic warehousing and delivery market, which has become increasingly competitive as firms seek to capitalize on logistics data assets.

In June top logistics firm SF Holding Co cut ties with the Cainiao coalition, which provides logistics support directly to Alibaba’s top e-commerce platform Taobao, claiming Alibaba had requested data unrelated to the existing partnership agreement. Alibaba denied the claims.

Alibaba said on Tuesday the $15 billion investment will be used to develop its data technology and improve its warehousing and delivery development.

Alibaba subscribed to new shares of Cainiao to boost its stake to a majority, according to a person close to the e-commerce firm. Alibaba will gain a new board seat in Cainiao, and will represent four out of a total seven seats.

Despite attracting billions of dollars from equity investors, Chinese logistic firms haven’t fared well in recent public listings.

Shares of ZTO Express Inc, which raised $1.4 billion from its New York IPO last October in the largest U.S. offering by any Chinese company since Alibaba in 2014, are down 22 percent from the listing price.

And Best Inc, a Chinese delivery firm backed by Alibaba, raised $450 million in a U.S. IPO last week, nearly half of what it had initially intended to raise.

Cainiao is not currently considering any IPO, the person said.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba co-founded Cainiao in 2013, with partners including department store owner Intime Group, conglomerate Fosun Group and a few logistics companies. It oversees roughly 57 million deliveries a day.]]>
9/26/2017 10:13:59 AM
<![CDATA[China's fuel exports to North Korea slow further: customs]]>
The release comes after data on Saturday showed China’s trade with North Korea jumped in August even after the U.N. sanctions, mainly driven by a rise in imports.

The data also showed China imported 1.6 million tonnes of coal from North Korea, the first since February when Beijing banned purchases of the fuel from its northern neighbor.

It was not immediately clear why the data showed shipments had resumed. A customs official said she would investigate the matter.

Last month, the U.N. Security council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea targeting its exports of coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. The sanctions took effect this month, but China enforced the new measures from Aug. 15.

China’s diesel exports to North Korea were 170 tonnes, compared with zero tonnes in August last year and gasoline shipments were 180 tonnes, down 96.3 percent from a year ago.]]>
9/26/2017 10:10:28 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. dollar steady for second week in row]]>
The exchange rate of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for the U.S. dollar recorded LE 17.617 for buying and LE 17.717 for selling, which is the same rate of the latest banking transactions.

Going down, the euro exchange rate recorded LE 20.91 for buying and LE 21.04, compared to LE 21.05 for buying and LE 21.18 for selling in the prior day.

Meanwhile, the GBP (British Pound) slightly went up to LE 23.81 for buying and LE 23.86 for selling, compared to LE 23.76 for buying and LE 23.90 for selling in the latest banking transactions.

As for the Arab currencies, the Saudi Riyal stabilized at LE 4.697 for buying and LE 4.724 for selling, according to the CBE.

The Kuwaiti dinar recorded LE 58.35 for buying and LE 58.80 for selling and the Emirati Dirham registered LE 4.79 for selling and LE 4.823 for buying. ]]>
9/26/2017 10:06:54 AM
<![CDATA[Asian shares wilt, yen firms as Korean tensions rise]]>
Futures suggested a subdued start to the European trading day, with the Eurostoxx 50 and FTSE futures both down 0.1 percent and DAX futures down 0.2 percent

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.6 percent, following tech-focused losses on Wall Street.

The risk-averse mood increased the appeal of safe-haven government debt, with the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes edging down to 2.218 percent from its U.S. close on Monday of 2.220 percent.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak later on Tuesday (1645 GMT) on “Prospects for Growth: Reassessing the Fundamentals”.

Investors will be parsing her words for clues on whether the U.S. central bank will stick to its plan to raise interest rates in December.

“If the U.S. is going to increase its policy rate as soon as December, that is going to support the dollar, but the situation is complicated by the North Korean tensions,” said Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Markit in Tokyo.

“Even if Yellen says something positive for the markets, it might just be offset by the geopolitical risks,” she said.

North Korea’s foreign minister said on Monday that a weekend tweet by President Donald Trump counted as a declaration of war on North Korea and that Pyongyang reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if they are not in its air space.

North Korea has been moving airplanes and boosting defenses on its east coast after the United States dispatched B-1B bombers to the Korean peninsula over the weekend, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday, citing the country’s spy agency.

Australian shares were down 0.2 percent, while South Korean shares slid 0.3 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index finished 0.3 percent lower, pressured by a stronger yen.

“In addition to North Korea, the stronger yen is affecting shares today, and there’s also Apple’s poor performance, after the report that it told suppliers to reduce parts shipments,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Apple Inc shed 0.9 percent on Monday after it was reported the company had told suppliers to scale back shipments of parts for its upcoming iPhone X.

The dollar dropped 0.1 percent against the yen to 111.61, well shy of last week’s two-month high of 112.725.

The yen tends to benefit during times of risk aversion due to Japan’s net creditor status and the expectation that Japanese investors would repatriate assets when facing a crisis.

The euro steadied after tumbling on Monday following a severely diminished election victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel that was accompanied by a surge in support for the far right. Support for Merkel’s conservatives unexpectedly slumped to its lowest since 1949 and the Social Democrats, partners in the outgoing coalition, said they would go into opposition.

The single currency was flat on the day at $1.1848, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down slightly at 92.634.

On Monday, New York Fed President William Dudley said the U.S. central bank is on track to gradually raise rates given factors depressing inflation are “fading” and the U.S. economy’s fundamentals are sound.

But Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said the Fed should wait until there are clear signs of faster wage and price growth before hiking rates again.

Crude oil prices took a breather after soaring more than 3 percent on Monday, as major producers said the global market was on its way to rebalancing while Turkey threatened to cut oil flows from Iraq’s Kurdistan region to its ports.

U.S. crude dipped 0.2 percent to $52.14 a barrel, after touching its highest levels since April. Brent crude rose slightly to $59.04, after scaling its highest peak since July 2015.

Gold was slightly higher after the heightened Korean tensions helped push it up more than 1 percent overnight. Spot gold added 0.1 percent to $1,311.10 per ounce.]]>
9/26/2017 9:54:49 AM
<![CDATA[Oil rises to 26-month high; Turkey threatens to cut Kurdistan oil pipeline]]>
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Monday to cut off the pipeline that carries oil exports from northern Iraq, intensifying pressure on the Kurdish autonomous region over its independence referendum.

The pipeline to Turkey’s port of Ceyhan usually pumps between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels per day (bpd). The loss of this supply combined with the 1.8 million bpd of supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers has raised concerns of tighter supply.

The Iraqi government said it will not hold talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government about the results of the referendum, which is expected to show a comfortable majority in favor of independence after the results are announced in about 72 hours.

“The high compliance of producers in jointly curbing output as well as the news of (Turkey’s response to) the referendum helped oil prices,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

London Brent crude for November delivery LCOc1 was up 1 cent at $59.03 a barrel by 0621 GMT after settling up 3.8 percent on Monday. Earlier it rose to $59.49, the highest since July 10, 2015.

U.S. crude for November delivery CLc1 was down 10 cents at $52.12, after hitting $52.43, a five-month high.

Brent has jumped from just over $55 a barrel a week ago, as OPEC and non-OPEC producers confirmed the market was well on its way toward rebalancing, while oil inventories declined.

However, other analysts were cautious of further price gains because of higher oil output from the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that production from wells in shale formations will rise for a 10th month in a row in October.

“With oil this high, shale oil output will accelerate, capping oil prices,” said a Tokyo-based oil analyst who declined to be identified.

U.S. crude prices have lagged behind Brent’s gains amid a large oversupply exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey, which forced the closure of nearly 25 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

The spread between WTI and Brent futures CL-LCO1=R widened to $7.17, its steepest since August 2015.

U.S. crude inventories likely rose by 2.3 million barrels last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed ahead of data by American Petroleum Institute (API).

Gasoline stockpiles likely fell by 1 million barrels, while distillate inventories, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were forecast to fall by 2.5 million barrels.

The API is scheduled to release its weekly data at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT).]]>
9/26/2017 9:51:51 AM
<![CDATA[China's iQiyi considers U.S. listing as early as 2018: source]]>
The video steaming service, which competes with Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) and Alibaba Holdings Ltd’s (BABA.N) Youku Tudou, is set to start negotiations with banks and deal arrangers, Bloomberg said.

The up to $10 billion valuation would still be a fraction of U.S. rival Netflix’s near $80 billion market capitalization. iQiyi had 481 million monthly active users as of the end of last year, data cited by Baidu shows.

Baidu and iQiyi representatives declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Tuesday. The source declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The video steaming service that hosts free and subscription services said in February it had raised $1.53 billion in new funds to compete with rivals in the country’s hotly contested online entertainment sector.

That investment round included funds from Baidu, Hillhouse Capital, IDG Capital and Sequoia Capital.

China’s online market for paid-for content has grown fast as the country cracks down on once rampant piracy, but has required huge amounts of investment from firms as they look to lure in viewers with premium shows from drama to sport.]]>
9/26/2017 9:49:29 AM
<![CDATA[Energy sharing: Egypt becoming a hub?]]>
Organized by the American University in Cairo, a workshop was held at the Cairo Marriot Zamalek Hotel, where academics and officials from the three Eastern Mediterranean countries met and held in-depth panels cooperation in the field of energy and security.

Benefits of cooperation between the three countries in terms of energy cost reduction and meeting national demands were highlighted by participants.

“Egypt is our best partner and an energy player…and we must promote mutual cooperation on natural gas…because it is essential for us as Egypt has the potentials to become an energy hub in the region,” Nicholas Papadopoulos, the President of the Democratic Party in Cyprus, told Egypt Today.

Papadopoulos, who is also a presidential candidate, said that if he were to win the elections, set to be held in Feb. 2018, one of the first things his government would embark on “is to find ways to conclude commercial agreements with Egypt to exporting and exploiting natural gas.”

Panels further discussed new gas discoveries in Egypt and its viability to enhance such cooperation, like Zohr gas field, which is the largest ever natural gas found in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We do not have to wait for new discoveries…we should move forward in cooperation [between the three countries] …it is the best way…lets succeed in bringing prosperity,” said Papadopoulos.


Energy sharing

Amr Serag Eldin, Professor at the Department of Petroleum and Energy Engineering at the AUC proposed a project of sharing energy by connecting national electric grids of both Egypt and Cyprus together, with particular emphasis on renewable energy potentials.

The project includes bridging the connection gap between both countries through the shortest route with a distance of only 338km, which can be spanned by submersible DC electrical cables, Serag Eldin told Egypt Today in an interview Monday.


image 2
Slideshow of a presentation on natural gas grid in Egypt - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today.


Discussing advantages of such connection, he explained that the project “shares diversified energy resources…reduces margin of inefficient spinning reserve and reduces peak loads due to different timing zones.”

According to Professor Serag Eldin, wind power would constitute the highest share of electricity generated of renewable energy in 2020, reaching 12 percent compared to only 2 percent coming from solar power and 5.8 percent from hydropower.

He explained that sharing of energy storage among the three countries allow for wider use of renewable energy, "from the concept that it is always windy somewhere."

“We have one of the best places in the world in Egypt with speed winds like in Zaafarana region, where average wind speeds reach 10m/s,” he said, adding that “future is in wind energy.”

For his part, Nabil Fahmy, dean of School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo said that despite possible challenges to the proposed cooperation, be it economic or political, they should be addressed through free tripartite debates.

Fahmy saw that integration between the three countries “achieves direct interest to Egypt.”

Benefits of this cooperation is that “it reduces cost of Egyptian product in the field of energy, enabling Egypt to export surplus energy to other countries especially in Europe, in addition to enabling it to utilize its potentials like: oil and gas refining,” he added.


Other competitors: why Turkey excluded?

During the discussions, questions rose regarding whether Turkey is a competitor to Egypt in the field of energy, where some of the participants referred to “distracting policies of Turkey in the region” as a reason of hindering possible cooperation between Ankara and the three countries.

Charalambos Papasotiriou, Professor of Strategic Studies Panteion University in Greece, praised “serious discussions” held by the three countries regarding energy cooperation, “I hope this will be a breakthrough.”

He said that Turkey is being excluded from the energy sharing concept discussed throughout the workshop, saying “Turkey’s stance has been erratic…trying to meet domestic needs of Erdogan. Turkey’s policy is not dependable or predictable…it is problematic for us.”

He added “people in the region want to avoid Turkey pipeline even if it is cheaper,” referring to the so-called Turkish Stream pipeline agreed upon last October.

Bloomberg reported in July that Turkey asked Israel to push Cyprus into allowing the pipeline to pass through its waters so the region’s natural gas can be exported to Europe.

Theodoros Tsakiris, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nicosia specializing on the geopolitics and economics of oil & gas, referred to the ongoing Turkish military occupation of the northern third of the Cyprus islands as one of the reasons for the conflict between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.

He further explained that other reasons “have to deal with the aggressive and imperialist policy by Turkey…it is violating international maritime law and claiming parts of Cyprus and Greece do not exist."]]>
9/26/2017 8:36:44 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt, China discuss Ain Sokhna-Al Alamein railway line]]>
The two sides reviewed the proposed route of the line, which comprises five main stations; namely Ain Sokhna, administrative capital, 6th of October, Alexandria and Al Alamein, as well as six sub stations.

The minister asked the Chinese delegation to make some adjustments to the proposed project so that the speed would be increased to 250 km/h instead of 160 km/h and an Alexandria/Borg el Arab line would be added to the first phase and transformed into a double electric line.

The line will be for passengers and goods and will be connected in an exchange station in 6th of October with another line to reach Aswan.]]>
9/26/2017 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[UK trade envoy to Egypt hails meeting with PM as positive]]>
In statements, Donaldson, who is leading a delegation of heads of seven major companies on a visit to the country, said the UK realizes Egypt's importance to the regional stability.

He expressed his optimism about economic reforms in Egypt, adding that steps taken by the Egyptian government are very encouraging.

Donaldson affirmed that the British international trade team is making strenuous efforts to support trade in Egypt. ]]>
9/26/2017 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[4G mobile service to be officially launched in Egypt Thursday]]>
In a statement on Monday, the NTRA said a ceremony will be organized at the Pyramids’ sound and light area to launch the new service.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Communications and Information Technology Minister Yasser el Kady will attend the ceremony, it added.]]>
9/26/2017 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[PM issues forms ministerial committee to settle investment disputes]]>
The committee will be headed by the justice minister and includes the ministers of housing, investment and international cooperation, trade and industry, finance and local development as members, according to the decision, which was published in the official gazette Monday. ]]>
9/26/2017 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Wall St falls on N. Korea warnings, tech selloff]]>
North Korea's foreign minister said President Donald Trump had declared war on the country and it reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if they are not in its airspace.

The comments buoyed safe-haven assets, those that are favored by investors in times of crisis, with gold up 0.9 percent and the Japanese yen up 0.30 percent versus the greenback at 111.65 per dollar.

"Everyone’s waiting with a cringe on their face," said Jason Ware, chief investment officer at Albion Financial in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"We don’t want this to continue, to become a war of words and then who knows when a mistake can happen."

The CBOE Volatility index, a widely followed measure of market anxiety, hit a 2-week high of 11.21 and was last up 1.12 points at 10.71.

Tech names such as Facebook, off 4.81 percent, Microsoft, down 1.89 percent, and Apple, off 1.11 percent, were among the biggest drags on the benchmark S&P 500 index.

The S&P technology index slid 1.76 percent and was on track for its worst daily performance in five weeks. The index remains the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors this year, however, with a rise of nearly 23 percent.

The losses in tech were offset somewhat by a sharp climb in the energy sector, which gained 1.56 percent. The sector was on track for its sixteenth gain in the last 18 sessions.

Oil prices hit a more than two-year high on Monday after major producers said the global market was on its way towards rebalancing, while Turkey threatened to cut oil flows from Iraq's Kurdistan region toward its ports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 65.31 points, or 0.29 percent, to 22,284.28, the S&P 500 lost 9.42 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,492.8 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 74.19 points, or 1.15 percent, to 6,352.73.

Genuine Parts shares jumped 6.28 percent as the best performer on the S&P 500 after the car parts distributor said it would enter the European market with a deal to buy peer Alliance Automotive Group for about $2 billion.

Allergan was up 2.15 percent after the drugmaker authorized a $2 billion buyback of its shares and said its chief financial officer would retire.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.31-to-1 ratio favored decliners.]]>
9/25/2017 9:00:45 PM
<![CDATA[Top U.S. NAFTA negotiator sees no problem with pace of talks]]>
Officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada are in Ottawa for the third of seven planned rounds of talks. The U.S. delegation has yet to unveil its precise position on several points, prompting concerns the process to update the 1994 pact could drag on beyond the scheduled end-December finish.

"We've been working very hard so I don't see a problem," John Melle told reporters when pressed on the matter. "We're moving across the board, so it's very ambitious."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier predicted some tough days ahead for negotiators and declined to say whether he thought the talks could meet the deadline.

"The negotiations are still under way and of course there will be more difficult discussions in some cases than others," he told a Toronto news conference.

Asked whether he was concerned the talks might not end on schedule, he replied: "The negotiations move forward at a certain pace and we respect that reality."

U.S. President Donald Trump, who frequently describes the treaty as a disaster, is threatening to walk away unless major changes are made.

Canada's chief negotiator on Sunday said he did not expect the U.S. side to present detailed proposals in Ottawa on major issues such as dispute settlement, the dairy sector and tougher rules for North American content on autos.

Canadian officials say it is still possible to meet the year-end deadline although they concede there are significant uncertainties about the timetable.

Earlier this month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the negotiators were working at warp speed.

"I think that's accurate," said Melle.

Trudeau said Ottawa's team of officials was "moving forward in good faith" and repeated a promise to defend Canada's system of tariffs and import restrictions put in place to defend its domestic dairy sector. The U.S. industry dislikes the measures.

Kenneth Smith, Mexico's chief negotiator, told reporters late on Sunday that "we feel there is a positive environment in the negotiations."

Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo - the three top officials driving the NAFTA modernization - will meet in Ottawa on Tuesday and Wednesday, the last two days of the third round.]]>
9/25/2017 8:58:48 PM
<![CDATA[ UAE among top investors in Egypt: Egypt’s Amb. to UAE ]]>
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s visit to the UAE came within the framework of bolstering mutual ties between the countries, as well as the agreement on cooperation and collaboration in many areas of mutual interest, in addition to sharing experiences in economic and commercial fields, Gad told WAM, the UAE news agency.

Gad stated that the mutual relations between the countries are on parallel paths on political, economic and other levels, adding that figures reflect the distinguished mutual economic relations between the two countries.

Gad pointed out that the UAE comes among the top investors in Egypt, as the volume of UAE investments in Egypt is approximately $6.2 billion. In addition, the mutual commercial exchange has reached $3.3 billion, with Egyptian exports of $2.4 billion and UAE exports of $900 million, attesting to the depth of the countries’ economic and commercial relations.

The Egyptian-Emirati cultural path involves strong and powerful bases that open doors for further integration and cooperation between the countries.]]>
9/25/2017 8:35:59 PM
<![CDATA[Business news wrap-up]]>New cities, SCZone, infrastructure key focus of UK firms: Trade envoy
The United Kingdom is encouraging its investors to invest in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) in the planning.


Egypt inks 83 oil, gas deals with foreign firms in 4 yrs: Molla


Egypt has all the potential to become an energy hub, and exerts great efforts to develop this potential, in order to enable countries to rely on Egypt, Mola said.


Egypt to pay $5.2B to Afreximbank before end of December: CBE


Repaying the bank’s dues will highly contribute to decreasing the foreign liabilities, CBE Governor said.

UAE investments in Egypt improve, trade balance post surplus

Kabil made the statement as he headed to Abu Dhabi Monday morning, along with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.


Egypt considers renewing Iraqi crude deal

Under an agreement reached in April in Baghdad, 12 million barrels of oil shipments are to be delivered to Egypt from SOMO.

EGX ends on mixed note for 3rd session, benchmark up 0.5%


Market capitalization gained LE 2.36 billion ($133.5 million) to LE 735.66 billion, up from 733.3 billion Sunday.


AMOC targets LE 1.1B profits in FY2017/18: Chairman


AMOC is waiting for the approval of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to buy condensates from the UAE’s Dana Gas, the chairman said.

HOTAC posts LE 509.6M, Banazioun gains LE 50M profits in FY16/17


Holding Company for Tourism and Hotels’ (HOTAC) subsidiaries achieved LE 509.62 million profits in the fiscal year of 2016/2017.


U.S. exchange rate stable Monday


The U.S. dollar recorded LE 17.617 for buying and LE 17.717 for selling.

ABB buys GE business for $2.6 billion in bet it can boost margins


Power grids maker ABB is buying General Electric’s Industrial Solutions business for $2.6 billion in a bet it can improve the division’s lackluster margins.

UAE's oil supply cut compliance is 100 percent: energy minister


The United Arab Emirates energy minister said the country’s compliance with a pact on global oil supply cuts stood at 100 percent.

Robust oil may support Saudi petchems, region may follow Asia's downtrend


The Saudi stock index may rise on Monday, after being shut for a national holiday on the previous day.
]]>
9/25/2017 6:58:41 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt calls for upgrading accreditation system to ease African inter-trade movement]]>
Accreditation is also an important factor in supporting exports, said CEO of the Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC) Hany el Dessouqi in a speech Monday on behalf of Qabil in the inaugural session of the General Assembly of the African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC), currently taking place here.

He pressed for activating the role played by AFRAC with the aim to enrich the economic system and trade exchange.

Dessouqi said the Trade and Industry Ministry adopts a clear strategy to support Egyptian products and hone their competitiveness.

The Ministry has restructured its national quality system and has established a national council to guarantee industrial quality, he added]]>
9/25/2017 5:59:36 PM
<![CDATA[World's third biggest container ship transit Suez Canal]]>
The ship, which came from France through the Mediterranean with a 218-ton load, will head to the Red Sea and the United Arab Emirates afterwards, said a navigational source.

The ship was escorted by a tug boat during the crossing period which lasted for bout 10 hours, added the source, pointing out to the increase of the number of ships in canal following the success of the New Suez Canal.
]]>
9/25/2017 5:58:32 PM
<![CDATA[Shaker arrives in Beijing to take part in 2017 GEIDCO forum]]>
During the visits, Shaker will sign the first cooperation protocol between Egypt and GEIDCO in the field of developing electricity and power linkage sectors in Egypt.

The Egyptian minister is set to visit China's control center as well as the headquarters of State Grid company where he will hold talks on developing Egypt's national electricity network.

Shaker is accompanied by Chairman of the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company Gaber Desouky to the three-day forum
]]>
9/25/2017 5:37:26 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt considers renewing Iraqi crude deal]]>
EGPC chairman Abed Ezz El-Regal said in a Monday press statement that renewing the contract will happen after paying the value of the shipments already received.

Under an agreement reached in April in Baghdad, 12 million barrels of oil shipments are to be delivered to Egypt from SOMO.

All shipments are expected to be received before the end of 2017. The agreement, which has a 90-day grace period, is subject to renewal.

Due to a shortfall in oil and natural gas production, Egypt has been importing crude and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from several sources in the past few years.

To secure market needs, Egypt imports crude from Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) under a three-year agreement to supply 1.5 million tons per year, which are refined in Egyptian refineries.

It further imports refined petroleum products from Saudi Arabia at 700,000 tons per month under a five-year agreement signed with the Saudi company Aramco in April 2016. ]]>
9/25/2017 4:05:16 PM
<![CDATA[AMOC targets LE 1.1B profits in FY2017/18: Chairman]]>
Moustafa added that AMOC is waiting for the approval of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to buy condensates from the UAE’s Dana Gas.

Through April and May, the company was able to export two Mazut shipments worth $15 million, the chairman noted.

Around 39.5 percent of Al Ahly Capital stake in the company, equivalent to 10 percent of the company’s shares, will be listed as global depository receipts (GDRs) on London Stock Exchange (LSE), the chairman told Egypt Today.

Moustafa expected that the listing will be before the second half of October, adding that this move will encourage the rest of investors to offer additional stakes of the company’s shares.

AMOC intends to establish a huge project for Mazut refining of a total investment value of $500 million.

Egypt's Ministry of Petroleum has put a plan to get rid of the Mazut by 2021 by refining and transferring it to other products of high value.
]]>
9/25/2017 3:25:03 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends on mixed note for 3rd session, benchmark up 0.5%]]>The benchmark index EGX30 rose 0.49 percent to close at 13,674 points.

The small and mid-cap index EGX70 shed 0.11 percent to end at 770.76 points. The broader index EGX100 index also inched down 0.01 percent to close at 1,703.7 points.

Market capitalization gained LE 2.36 billion ($133.5 million) to LE 735.66 billion, up from 733.3 billion Sunday.
Turnover leveled up to LE 1.13 billion after registering LE 796 million Sunday, while traded volume increased to LE 383 million shares from 244 million shares yesterday.

Local investors were net buyers with a total of LE 42.7 million, while Arab and foreign traders sold at LE 117,768 and LE 42.5 million, respectively.

The Financial Services excluding Banks led sectors in terms of traded values and volumes with LE 212.3 million and 131.7 million shares, respectively.

Alexandria Flour Mills topped gainers and skyrocketed 9.97 percent, while Egyptian International Pharmaceuticals (EIPICO) led the worst performers and dropped 6.89 percent.
]]>
9/25/2017 2:58:48 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt inks 83 oil, gas deals with foreign firms in 4 yrs: Mola]]>
During the minister’s meeting with the French Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, Mola highlighted that this number is a record in the history of the petroleum industry in Egypt.

The confidence of foreign investors in the Egyptian economy increased after seeing the economic reforms carried out by the government, the minister said.

Mola added that the new strategy for developing mineral resources was prepared by the Ministry of Petroleum with the aim of benefitting the Egyptian economy as much as possible from these resources.

The minister expressed Egypt’s interest of becoming a power trading center, adding that the country is aware that achieving such a strategic goal shall be accompanied by a comprehensive development plan for the infrastructure, gas networks, pipelines, storage warehouses, ports, liquefying plants and refining labs.

Egypt has all the potential to become an energy hub, and exerts great efforts to develop this potential, in order to enable countries to rely on Egypt, Mola said.

Moreover, Mola noted that the government gives due attention to value added industries, which have a strong economic reflection, adding that the petroleum sector is aspiring to promote its contribution as an economic growth driver in Egypt.
]]>
9/25/2017 2:47:44 PM
<![CDATA[New cities, SCZone, infrastructure key focus of UK firms: Trade envoy]]>
Heading a delegation of 14 British companies, who are visiting Egypt to explore investment opportunities, Donaldson said that the companies will meet chairman of SCZone Mohab Mamesh to discuss potential investments.

Donaldson said he invited Mamesh to visit the UK to promote the SCZone projects.

The companies met the Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouly to discuss investment in the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein City.

The UK is welcoming the economic reform measures taken by the Egyptian government, "as it made Egypt attractive for UK investors," he said.

Donaldson said that after this visit, he will meet with investors in Manchester and Edinburgh to market the available opportunities in Egypt.

"I have also invited Madbouly to visit the UK to promote the New Alamein City," he noted.

Donaldson said he met the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority and the Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla, adding that he will meet Prime Minister Sherif Ismail on Monday as well.

"In general, we are welcoming the economic reform and we are seeing its fruits now reflected in economic growth rates... we are here now to make it easier for UK companies to invest in Egypt," Donaldson added.

Donaldson, arrived in Cairo with a delegation of 14 British companies on Sunday to explore new business opportunities in various sectors


The companies, including Rolls Royce, Bombardier and London International Patient Services, intend to invest in the infrastructure, defense, healthcare and agriculture sectors.

Seventy percent of the companies involved are new to doing business in Egypt.

British investors will be looking to explore new opportunities in the sectors of infrastructure, health care, railway and ports, in addition to the non-oil sector.
]]>
9/25/2017 2:33:11 PM
<![CDATA[HOTAC posts LE 509.6M, Banazioun gains LE 50M profits in FY16/17]]>
The companies’ revenues grew 39 percent to exceed LE 2 billion in FY 2016/2017.

Seven out of nine firms affiliated to HOTAC saw an enhancement in their results, four achieved a rise in their profitability and two narrowed their losses.

Banzaioun – the New Fashion Co. gained LE 1.5 million ($84,890) profits and overcame its annual profits of LE 8.5 million recorded in the fiscal year of 2015/2016.

The company will

pump LE 50 million

($3 million) as new investments during the first half of the fiscal year 2017/18 with the partnership of the private sector to develop a number of commercial branches.

HOTAC and Banzaioun are affiliated to the Ministry of Public Business Sector.

The

Business sector revenues

reached LE 80 billion after the latest economic reform measures taken recently, according to Minister of the Public Business Sector Ashraf el-Sharqawi.
]]>
9/25/2017 12:44:50 PM
<![CDATA[Credit Agricole to move European govt bonds trading to Paris this month]]>
“To achieve critical mass, Credit Agricole CIB has decided to concentrate its euro flow rates market making capabilities in Paris,” said the spokeswoman.

“Therefore the European government bonds trading platform currently based in London will be relocated, as of September 2017, to Credit Agricole CIB in Paris where it will be positioned at the heart of our euro swaps, repo and inflation focused activities,” she said.

French bankers have pledged to create 1,000 jobs in Paris as part of a plan to shift their operations out of London once Britain leaves the European Union.

However, despite efforts by the French government to attract London banks after Brexit, international banks so far have mostly chosen Frankfurt as their EU hub.]]>
9/25/2017 12:35:06 PM
<![CDATA[ABB buys GE business for $2.6 billion in bet it can boost margins]]>
Zurich-based ABB sees potential for annual cost benefits of $200 million with the deal, which includes an agreement for long-term use of GE’s brand and a strategic partnership. In 2016, the GE business had sales of $2.7 billion.

The GE products include circuit breakers, switchgear, components for lighting control and power supply equipment for facilities including data centers. ABB’s portfolio includes similar products.

ABB is seeking to better penetrate the North American market and gain access to GE’s larger installed base of electrical installations worldwide.

ABB said the business had been “an unloved child” and pledged to upgrade aging products with its own technology to help arrest a declining U.S. market share.

ABB is suspending its $3 billion share buyback program as part of the deal, which will bolster its position as the second-biggest supplier of electrical components behind France’s Schneider Electric.

ABB is also wagering on being able to cut costs and boost profitability at the Georgia-based GE unit.

“The key rationale of the integration is, first we will make this business better. And then afterwards, we will make this business bigger and better,” said ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer.

ABB expects integration costs of $400 million.

The GE unit’s operating earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) are just 6 percent of sales, less than half the 15 percent operating margin at ABB’s comparable Electrification Products division.

Spiesshofer said he agreed to the transaction only after striking a supply partnership where ABB and GE will increase buying and selling from each another.

“Without that, the economics wouldn’t have worked,” he told reporters on a call. “With the supply partnership, the economics at the price of 0.9 times revenue is working.”

GE has been under pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management to sell assets and focus on higher-margin businesses.

Some analysts said the price was surprisingly high given the GE business’s low profitability.

“GE Industrial Solutions isn’t in top shape, so ABB has its work cut out for it,” said Zuercher Kantonalbank analyst Richard Frei.

ABB said it would finance the deal -- likely its last for some time -- with cash and did not need to raise equity capital. Its shares were little changed in early trading.

GE had resumed negotiations to sell the business to ABB after moderating its price expectations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in August.

Credit Suisse and Dyal Co acted as financial advisers to ABB, and Davis Polk & Wardwell provided legal counsel.]]>
9/25/2017 12:34:11 PM
<![CDATA[UAE investments in Egypt improve, trade balance post surplus ]]>
Kabil issued the statement as he headed to Abu Dhabi Monday morning, along with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and also accompanied by an official delegation to discuss bilateral and economic cooperation with the UAE government.

"The UAE has topped the list of investing countries in Egypt as they are currently investing a total value of $6.2 billion in 868 projects in the sectors of communications, banking, real estate developing and tourism," Kabil said.

Emirati investments in Egypt have seen major development, especially after announcing the participation of UAE companies in cultivating 20 million palms as part of Egypt's national project to reclaim one million feddans, the minister added.
Egypt's exports to the UAE rose 7 percent to $1.204 billion in 1H of 2017 compared to $1.127 billion in the year-ago period.

The exported products included electric appliances, furniture, vegetables, fruits, medical supplies, iron and steel.

"The tangible increase in exports to the UAE came as a result of continuous efforts to promote Egyptian products in international markets," Kabil said, highlighting that Egyptian items are competing in Emirati markets due to their prices and quality.
]]>
9/25/2017 11:49:47 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt to pay $5.2B to Afreximbank before end of December: CBE]]>
Amer added in press statements that repaying the bank’s dues will highly contribute to decreasing foreign liabilities.

The

Afreximbank

is cooperating with the CBE, National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr to provide $500 million in facilities to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their supply chains.

The total portfolio of Afreximbank for Egypt is $5.2 billion.

Egypt’s foreign debt leveled up 38.4 percent to $73.9 billion by the end of March 2017 from $53.47 billion in the year-ago period.

Foreign reserves also increased to $36.143 billion by the end of August, up from $36.036 billion by the end of July.

The Egyptian government has been applying an economic reforms’ program since the end of 2015, which included imposing the value added tax (VAT), devaluation the Egyptian pound and cutting the subsidies on the electricity and petroleum substances.
]]>
9/25/2017 11:26:46 AM
<![CDATA[Iran says to keep crude, condensate exports at around 2.6M bpd in 2017]]>
Shipments of condensate will be dented by a “technical problem” at the South Pars field, with maintenance expected to take 1-2 months to complete, National Iranian Oil Company’s Director of International Affairs Saeid Khoshrou told Reuters.

Exports of condensate, an ultra-light crude used in petrochemical production, will fall to about 450,000 bpd after the maintenance, from an average of 550,000 bpd over the last 15 months, the official said on the sidelines of the APPEC industry conference in Singapore.

“We will not have more than 450,000 bpd available to export,” Khoshrou said.

NIOC has informed buyers in Asia that it could reduce condensate exports in October because of the maintenance at South Pars, industry sources have said.

By the second quarter of this year, Iran had cleared excess oil stored onshore and offshore as the easing of international sanctions in January 2016 enabled it to ramp up exports.

The company is also increasing output at the first of three condensate splitters at the Persian Gulf Star Refinery (PGSR). Each splitter has a capacity of 120,000 bpd.]]>
9/25/2017 11:17:04 AM
<![CDATA[Bank of France raises 2017 French economic growth forecast to 1.7%]]>
Bank of France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau made the forecast in an interview published on Monday in regional newspaper Midi Libre, in which he highlighted the importance of economic reforms for the country.

The 1.7 percent forecast compared to an estimate of 1.6 percent growth given in July and 1.4 percent in June.

“The economic recovery cannot be doubted. It is happening throughout Europe, including France. However, in our country, growth is not yet strong enough,” said Villeroy de Galhau.

“This year, it could reach 1.7 percent. That would still put it below the average for the euro zone, which stands at over 2 percent. This underperformance highlights one imperative - we must take advantage of the recovery to step up reforms in France, so that we can bring up our growth level to that of our European neighbours, who have succeeded in this area,” he added.

The updated forecast from the head of the Bank of France brings it into line with similar estimates on French economic growth for 2017 from the government, while the OECD this month also moved up its forecast for France’s 2017 economic growth to 1.7 percent from 1.3 percent previously.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Macron’s success in overhauling the economy would hinge on reining in government spending, the highest among developed countries at over 56 percent of gross domestic product.
]]>
9/25/2017 11:14:24 AM
<![CDATA[UAE's oil supply cut compliance is 100 percent: energy minister]]>
“UAE compliance is 100 percent and we announce cuts every month,” Suhail al-Mazroui told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the the capital Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“In the last two months we cut 10 percent of our exports,” he said.

Al-Mazroui has said that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) had cut crude allocations by 10 percent in September and October.]]>
9/25/2017 11:12:16 AM
<![CDATA[Japan PM Abe announces $17.8B economic stimulus package]]>
Speaking at a meeting with his top advisory panel, Abe said the package should focus on subsidising education, child-care costs, and on boosting corporate investments to improve productivity.

Abe is expected to announce a snap election later on Monday to take advantage of improved ratings and disorganised opposition parties, and the stimulus package could be a way to lure voters during the election campaign.]]>
9/25/2017 11:10:38 AM
<![CDATA[Euro, kiwi slip on political uncertainties, Asia shares fall]]>
The New Zealand dollar also took a hit as the ruling National Party won the largest number votes in a weekend election but failed to secure a ruling majority, with a protracted period of coalition building now a possibility.

Spreadbetters expected European stocks to start slightly lower, forecasting Britain’s FTSE to open down 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX to open little changed and France’s CAC to start 0.2 percent lower.

The euro slid 0.2 percent to $1.1933, putting more distance between a 2-1/2-year high of $1.2092 reached on Sept. 8, when a European Central Bank policy meeting left currency bulls optimistic the ECB would begin tapering its big stimulus programme.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan handed back earlier modest gains and was last down 0.6 percent.

Two years after Merkel left German borders open to more than 1 million migrants, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) stunned the establishment by becoming the first far-right party to enter parliament in more than half a century.

Merkel now turns to the task of sounding out new partners to build a coalition government after her current Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partner said it would go into opposition.

“The market reacted by selling the euro on the possibility of Merkel running into difficulties in forging a coalition. The euro, however, was already losing support from the European Central Bank’s monetary policy theme and appeared to be on its way lower,” said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank in Tokyo.

“The election outcome in Germany showed the country was no longer a special presence in Europe amid growing support for populism and the far right.”

In New Zealand, the kiwi, the world 11th most-traded currency, was down 1 percent at $0.7264 and headed for its biggest intraday percentage loss since May.

It was at a 1-1/2-month high of $0.7435 as recently as Sept. 20, when speculation for a comfortable ruling party win had boosted the currency.

“While there are a few different scenarios and some potentially testy issues to negotiate, ultimately the political landscape appears as though it will remain relatively centralist and we are reasonably agnostic on what it all means,” wrote economists at ANZ.

Chinese stocks remained shaky after falling towards the end of last week following the Federal Reserve’s hawkish policy stance and S&P’s downgrade of China’s sovereign rating.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1 percent and Shanghai slipped 0.4 percent after a number of Chinese cities rolled out new measures to cool housing prices.

Investor sentiment was also undermined by concerns that China’s beefed-up environmental protection could reduce demand, and consequently economic growth.

South Korea’s KOSPI shed 0.4 percent while Japan’s Nikkei bucked the trend and rose 0.5 percent thanks to the yen’s weakening against the dollar.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly higher on Friday as worries about the Graham-Cassidy proposal to reform U.S. health insurance eased and investors shrugged off concerns about North Korea.

The pound inched up after sliding on Friday when British Prime Minister Theresa May failed to give any concrete details for how Britain might retain preferential access to Europe’s single market after Brexit.

The currency faced additional pressure on Friday after ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Britain’s credit rating, saying the government’s plans to bring down its heavy debt load had been knocked off course and Brexit would weigh on the economy.

Sterling was up 0.3 percent at $1.3544 after losing 0.6 percent on Friday.

Its peers’ troubles lifted the dollar, with its index against a basket of six major currencies up 0.1 percent at 92.257.

The greenback added 0.2 percent at 112.260 yen , reversing losses suffered on Friday when the exchange of insults between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea heated up, sapping broader risk appetite.

Oil prices consolidated after surging on Friday, when OPEC and other oil producers said they were clearing a glut that has weighed on crude prices and may wait until January before deciding whether to extend their output curbs beyond the first quarter of 2018.

Brent crude futures was down 0.1 percent at $56.80 a barrel, not far from a 6-1/2-month high of $56.91 set on Friday.

U.S. crude lost 0.3 percent to $50.52 a barrel.]]>
9/25/2017 10:56:36 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. exchange rate stable Monday]]>
The exchange rate of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for the U.S. dollar recorded LE 17.617 for buying and LE 17.717 for selling, which is the same rate of the latest banking transactions.

Going down, the euro exchange rate recorded LE 21.05 for buying and LE 21.18 for selling, down from LE 21.09 for buying and LE 21.22 for selling.

Meanwhile, the GBP (British Pound) slightly went down to LE 23.76 for buying and LE 23.90 for selling, compared to LE 23.83 for buying and LE 23.97 for selling in the latest banking transactions.

As for the Arab currencies, the Saudi Riyal stabilized at LE 4.697 for buying and LE 4.724 for selling, according to the CBE.

The Kuwaiti dinar recorded LE 58.41 for buying and LE 58.78 for selling and the Emirati Dirham registered LE 4.79 for selling and LE 4.823 for buying.
]]>
9/25/2017 10:56:12 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia mandates banks ahead of international bond issuance]]>
Meetings will start on Monday and a 144a/Regulation S senior unsecured benchmark deal could follow, subject to market conditions, with maturities of five and a half years, 10 and a half years, and 30 years, the document showed.

Benchmark transactions are generally upwards of $500 million. Goldman Sachs International, GIB Capital, HSBC, J.P. Morgan and MUFG have been appointed as joint lead managers and joint bookrunners. ]]>
9/25/2017 10:52:30 AM
<![CDATA[Oil holds gains as producers say market rebalancing]]>
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since the start of 2017, helping lift oil prices by about 15 percent in the past three months.

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq, who chaired Friday’s meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, said output curbs were helping cut global crude inventories to their five-year average, OPEC’s stated target.

London Brent crude for November delivery was down 8 cents at $56.78 a barrel by 0614 GMT, near the highest since March. U.S. crude for November delivery was down 15 cents at $50.51, but not far off recent four-month highs.

The dollar index was up 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies. The euro slipped after Germany’s election showed surging support for a far-right party that left Chancellor Angela Merkel scrambling to form a governing coalition.

Russia’s energy minister said no decision on extending output curbs beyond the end of March was expected before January, although other ministers suggested such a decision could be taken before the end of this year.

Iran expects to maintain overall crude and condensate exports at around 2.6 million bpd for the rest of 2017, a senior official in the nation’s state oil company said, while the UAE’s energy minister said its compliance to supply cuts was 100 percent.

Nigeria is pumping below its agreed output cap, its oil minister said.

“Oil is relatively underpriced compared with other markets, but any steep rise would be offset by rising shale oil production,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

Production curbs have faced rising U.S. shale oil output. U.S. energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for a third week as a 14-month drilling recovery stalled.

Markets were also eyeing developments in North Korea. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday said President Donald Trump wants to avoid nuclear war with North Korea and “will do everything we can” to avoid conflict.

The WTI crude front month discount to the same month of Brent futures CL-LCO1=R hit $6.28, the widest since August 2015, as U.S. crude was pressured by hurricane damage to U.S. refineries.]]>
9/25/2017 10:48:51 AM
<![CDATA[Gold falls as dollar firms, North Korea worries ease]]>
Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,291.60 per ounce as of 0646 GMT, not far from last week’s near one-month low of $1,287.61. Prices of the yellow metal dropped about 1.7 percent last week in their second consecutive weekly decline.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery slipped 0.2 percent to $1,295.00 per ounce.

“(Angela) Merkel’s win in the German federal elections and a quiet news weekend on the North Korean front, saw the U.S. dollar opening stronger and gold’s weekend safe-haven premium eroded from Friday,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with OANDA.

The dollar index was up 0.2 percent at 92.32 against a basket of currencies.

The euro slipped after Merkel won a fourth term in a weekend election, but faced leading a much less stable coalition in a fractured parliament as support for the far-right party surged.

“I guess markets are relieved about the ongoing sanctions against North Korea. If you see what China and (U.S. President Donald) Trump have done last week, it seems they are trying to achieve a peaceful resolution,” said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.

On Sunday, the United States said it has added North Korea to its list of countries that are banned from entering the country.

“The U.S. Federal Reserve started its balance sheet reduction last week as well as still pricing in one-time rate hike by year-end,” Gan said.

Last week, the Fed announced it would begin trimming down its $4.5 trillion in assets and signalled it will likely raise rates again this year.

“This still has a strong influence in pushing gold prices lower as well,” Gan said.

Meanwhile, physical gold demand remained soft across Asia this week despite a downwards price correction as consumers awaited further dips in rates, while a government move to bring transparency to bullion trading kept buyers on the sidelines in India.

In other precious metals, silver slipped 0.5 percent to $16.87 per ounce. Prices fell over 3.5 percent last week in the biggest weekly decline since early July.

Platinum fell 0.2 percent to $928.50 per ounce, but hovered around an eight-week low hit on Thursday. It shed 3.5 percent last week in its second consecutive weekly fall.

Palladium gained 0.9 percent to $924.50 per ounce.]]>
9/25/2017 10:47:06 AM
<![CDATA[Robust oil may support Saudi petchems, region may follow Asia's downtrend]]>
Brent was trading at $56.80 a barrel in Asia, staying near a March high struck on Friday.

Petrochemical makers, that account for roughly one-quarter of Saudi Arabia’s total market value, benefit from the rise in oil prices as it supports the producers’ gross margins.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan handed back earlier modest gains and was last down 0.7 percent with losses across the regions weighing.

Rising political tension between North Korea and the United States, and concerns about China’s economy undermined investor sentiment.

The Qatari index, however, may hold onto the gains made over the last four sessions - or even extend them - as it starts to slowly recover from a steep slide due to the decision of four Arab states in June to cut ties with Doha.]]>
9/25/2017 10:43:52 AM
<![CDATA[UK trade mission to Egypt seeks new investments ]]>
The companies, including Rolls Royce, Bombardier and London International Patient Services, intend to invest in the infrastructure, defense, healthcare and agriculture sectors.

“Seventy percent of the companies involved are new to doing business in Egypt,” the statement read.

The embassy highlighted that the delegation will be visiting the new administrative capital to discuss investment opportunities with its Chairman Ayman Ismail.

"The recent reforms that have been implemented have brought about stronger economic growth in Egypt and this has heightened the interest of British companies in doing business with Egypt,” Donaldson said.

He added that the trade mission have conducted an excellent program of meetings.
Meanwhile, British Ambassador to Cairo, John Casson, said that Egypt’s economy has captured the attention of the investors, seeing the first fruits of reform. “There are golden opportunities to do business here,” he said.

Casson added that the private sector is the champion of the next period, as the Egyptian government works to build a free, fair and open economy for all Egyptian men and women.

Earlier this month, on the sidelines of the Euromoney Egypt Conference, Casson stated that Cairo will receive

a new wave of British investments

as British investors will be looking to explore new opportunities in the sectors of infrastructure, health care, railway and ports, in addition to the non-oil sector.
]]>
9/24/2017 6:33:57 PM
<![CDATA[Index of manufacturing industries up 0.9% MoM in July]]>
The statistics body attributed the increase to higher production of some industrial activities, especially readymade garments and beverages.

The beverage industry index advanced 48.5 percent to 189.33 month-on-month in July 2017 compared to 127.50, due to higher production of mineral and carbonated water.
Readymade garments index reached 203.72 in July 2017, up from 159.73 in June 2017, with a 27.5 percent increase.

On the other hand, the index of mining fell to 96.10 compared to 124.35 in June, losing 22.7 percent, CAPMAS added.

The index of manufacturing computers, electronics, optical and medical products reached 177.16 during July 2017, compared to 222.69 in June 2017, recording a decrease of 20.4 percent, due to a decline in the number of contracts.
]]>
9/24/2017 5:31:47 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s railway saw increased revenues, accidents in August ]]>
However August’s revenues fell compared to July when it reached LE 192.1 million. August, meanwhile, saw 111 accidents, an increase from the 75 accidents that took place in July.

The accidents in August left seven dead and one injured, the statistics agency said.
It added that the number of passengers of Egypt’s railway reached 17.4 million in August 2017, compared to 17.3 million in August 2016 and 23 million in July 2017.
Meanwhile, the volume of cargo transported through the railway last month stood at 261,000 tons.

In his meeting today with a delegation of British companies, Transport Minister Hisham Arafat reviewed possible investments in the railway sector, including plans to restructure the system to improve services.
]]>
9/24/2017 4:03:03 PM
<![CDATA[Transport minister mulls with British delegation possible investments]]>
The meeting, added by Britain's trade envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, mulled joint investment opportunities in Egypt.

Arafat reviewed possible investments in the railway sector including plans to restructure the system to improve services in addition to chances in the maritime transport domain.

He pointed out to planned projects in the ports of Dameitta and Alexandria and another plan to link all Egyptian harbors with logistics zones.

The British firms reviewed during the meeting their expertise that can boost the transport sector in Egypt including the infrastructure of the railways and the metro network.

Casson stressed that the British companies are ready to transfer this experience to Egypt.]]>
9/24/2017 3:17:43 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir to add 38 new aircrafts to fleet at LE 60B]]>
Musallam added that the purchasing deal will continue until 2020-2021, highlighting that it is one of the biggest deals for aviation companies in the Middle East.
The deal includes all the models, with the seat capacity of some models reaching up to 350 seats, Musallam said.

He added that the forthcoming aircrafts will be able to fly for 18 consecutive hours, which will help the company reach new destinations in different continents.

In July,

EgyptAir received the sixth Boeing

737-800 NG aircraft, out of nine aircrafts that the company plans to acquire in 2017.

The aircrafts comes as a part of the lately sealed deal between EgyptAir and Boeing worth $1 billion.
]]>
9/24/2017 3:14:36 PM
<![CDATA[EGX extends mixed note, market capitalization adds LE 900M]]>
The benchmark index EGX30 decreased 0.64 percent to close at 13,607 points.

The small and mid-cap index EGX70 increased 1.16 percent to end at 772 points. The broader index EGX100 index also leveled up 0.71 percent to close at 1,704 points.

Market capitalization inched up LE 900 million ($50.9 million) to LE 733.3 billion from LE 732.4 billion on Wednesday.
Turnover fell to LE 796 million, after registering LE 1.09 billion Wednesday; traded volume also leveled down to 244 million shares from 335.7 million shares last session.

Local investors were net sellers with a total of LE 42 million, while Arab and foreign traders purchased by LE 29 million and LE 13 million, respectively.

The Financial Services excluding Banks led sectors in terms of traded values and volumes with LE 109.8 million and 71 million shares, respectively.

Alexandria Flour Mills topped gainers and skyrocketed 9.98 percent, while El Kahera Housing led the worst performers and declined 5.8 percent.
]]>
9/24/2017 3:12:08 PM
<![CDATA[Uber ready to make concessions to reverse London license decision: paper]]>
The Sunday Times also quoted sources close to London’s transport body as saying the move was encouraging and suggested the possibility of talks.

“While we haven’t been asked to make any changes, we’d like to know what we can do,” Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London, told the newspaper. “But that requires a dialogue we sadly haven’t been able to have recently.”
A spokesman for Transport for London (TfL) declined to comment.

The Sunday Times said Uber’s concessions were likely to involve passenger safety and benefits for its drivers, possible limits on working hours to improve road safety and holiday pay.

TfL stunned the powerful U.S. start-up on Friday when it deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service for safety reasons and stripped it of its license from Sept. 30, although the company can continue to operate while it appeals.

The regulator cited failures to report serious criminal offences, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues.

Uber responded by urging users in London to sign a petition that said the city authorities had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice”. The move echoed Uber’s strategy in disputes with other cities.

By 2200 GMT on Saturday, more than 600,000 people had signed although it was not clear how many of them were in London.

A spokesman for Uber said around 20,000 Uber drivers had emailed the city’s mayor directly to object to the decision.

]]>
9/24/2017 1:31:56 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, WB portfolio stands at $8B: Investment Minister]]>
Nasr showcased the ministry’s role in the development projects and the coordination with the international bodies, which saw a great success, assuring that Egypt has achieved a lot regarding the economic reforms’ program with activating the social safety net to ease the pressures of the economic reforms, including the social housing and the infrastructure projects.

Egypt stands among the 22 countries that completed the first review of the sustainable development and participated in the second review, Nasr highlighted.

The United Nations’ Development Program’s (UNDP) representative in Egypt Randa Abu el-Hassan said that Egypt is moving on the right track towards achieving sustainable development goals.

Achieving an Arab sustainable development needs $85 billion annually, Hassan added.
Hassan pointed to the latest project launched by the Ministry of Investment named “Fekretak Sherketak,” saying that it is an important project in the field of business entrepreneurship.

Earlier in September, Nasr launched “Fekretak Sherketak” Initiative to encourage startups and promote the entrepreneurial atmosphere in Egypt.

Fekretak Sherketak promotes the launch of the Egypt Entrepreneurship Program (EEP) in partnership with Hermes Financial Group and UNDP.
]]>
9/24/2017 1:00:59 PM
<![CDATA[NBE collects LE 330B from Platinum, investment certificates]]>
Yehia Aboul Fotouh, the vice chairperson of NBE added to Egypt Today that the certificates gained the favor of the bank’s clients since their offering 11 months ago, noting that the bank will continue issuing these certificates.

The volume of the loan portfolio of the NBE hiked to LE 400 billion ($22.5 billion) by the end of the fiscal year 2016/2017, Fotouh said earlier, expecting that the bank’s profits would maintain last fiscal year’s rates.

The deposit portfolio recorded LE 850 billion from LE 558 billion by the end of June 2016, the vice chairperson said, assuring that deposits’ growth registered more than LE 292 billion.

In July, NBE said that it will

hike its interest rates

on s

avings accounts

by 0.5 percent as of August.

The move comes in response to the Central Bank of Egypt’s decision to raise interest rates by 200 basis points on July 7.
]]>
9/24/2017 10:54:57 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. dollar keeps its rate against Egyptian pounds Sunday]]>
The exchange rate of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for the U.S. dollar recorded LE 17.617 for buying and LE 17.717 for selling, which is nearly the same rate of the latest banking transactions.

The euro exchange rate went slightly up, recording LE 21.13 for buying and LE 21.26 for selling, compared to LE 21.09 for buying and LE 21.22 for selling Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the GBP (British Pound) inched up to LE 23.85 for buying and LE 23.99 for selling, from LE 23.83 for buying and LE 23.97 for selling in the latest banking transactions.

As for the Arab currencies, the Saudi Riyal stabilized at LE 4.697 for buying and LE 4.724 for selling, according to the CBE.

The Kuwaiti dinar went down to LE 58.42 for buying and LE 58.81 for selling, after registering LE 58.45 for buying and LE 58.82 for selling Wednesday. The Emirati Dirham kept its rate at LE 4.79 for selling and LE 4.823 for buying.
]]>
9/24/2017 10:11:55 AM
<![CDATA[Damaged New Zealand fuel pipeline restarted -officials]]>
Jet fuel from the Marsden Point Oil Refinery began to arrive at Auckland’s Wiri Oil Terminal on Sunday morning, and is expected to reach Auckland Airport by Tuesday, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said.

“Airlines are continuing to operate their networks on the 50 percent fuel allocation from Auckland, with increasing stability and minimal disruption to passengers,” Collins said in a statement. “The number of flight cancellations has been steadily decreasing.”

Five international flights were canceled on Saturday as the country’s army trucked fuel to Auckland airport and New Zealanders went to the polls for a general election. Two more international flights are expected to be canceled on Sunday.

The New Zealand government set up a commission to oversee the response to the crisis just days before Saturday’s poll, which has left the ruling National Party and opposition Labour Party in a position of having to lobby the nationalist New Zealand First party to form a coalition government.

Tourism industry officials have expressed concern about the impact on the international reputation of the South Pacific island nation, which has been experiencing record levels of tourism.

More than 100 flights were canceled over the past several days and many more delayed, disrupting the plans of thousands of travelers.

Damage to the 170-km (105-mile) fuel line, which supplies almost all of the fuel for Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, was believed to have been caused by a digger. Repairs were completed late on Friday.

New Zealand Refining Co Ltd Chief Executive Sjoerd Post told media on Saturday that full capacity would probably not return until early next year. Post said the pipeline would operate at 80 per cent capacity until further tests were carried out over the next few months. ]]>
9/24/2017 10:06:14 AM
<![CDATA[BMW to build new 8 series at German Dingolfing plant from 2018]]>
The plant currently makes BMW’s 3 to 7 series models and expects to beat its record annual output of 369,000 vehicles this year, BMW said in a statement on Saturday.

It reiterated that its new electric, autonomous iNEXT model was to be built at Dingolfing from 2021, and that the plant will be involved in the supply of electric motor, components and a battery for the electric MINI to be built in Oxford.

“And that is certainly not the end of it,” Andreas Wendt, head of the plant, said in a statement.]]>
9/24/2017 10:03:45 AM
<![CDATA[Lufthansa offering to pay 200 million euros for Air Berlin: BamS]]>
Citing sources close to the proceedings, the paper said that there could be three months between signing a purchasing contract and implementing the transaction because the German and European competition authorities would first need to vet any deal, BamS said.

On filing for insolvency last month the Berlin government promptly granted Air Berlin a 150 million-euro bridging loan to keep the airline flying for three months.

On Thursday Air Berlin’s creditor committee said it would talk to Lufthansa and Britain’s easyJet (EZJ.L) as possible buyers for the carrier’s aviation business, giving three weeks for negotiations.

Sources familiar with the matter said last week Lufthansa was bidding a three-digit millions sum with the offer covering Air Berlin, its leisure airline Niki and regional subsidiary Luftfahrt Gesellschaft Walter.

Lufthansa itself has only said it has made an offer for parts of Air Berlin.

BamS also said its sources had said next week Air Berlin would have to return planes used on its long haul routes to two companies it leases aircraft from.]]>
9/24/2017 10:02:33 AM
<![CDATA[Investors wary as Tanzania moves to assert more control over mines]]>
Takeover bids and exploration plans have been cancelled and workers laid off. The share prices of many firms listed in Australia, Britain, South Africa and Canada with interests in Tanzania have halved as the value of their investments tumble.

The tumult follows the passage of three laws in July that, among other things, hike taxes on mineral exports, mandate a higher government stake in some mining operations and force the construction of local smelters to bring Tanzania higher up the mining food chain.

The regulations aim to stamp out what President John Magufuli, nicknamed “the Bulldozer”, has called years of corrupt practices and tax evasion that have robbed the country of revenue from a sector accounting for about four percent of GDP.

Many of the changes were first suggested by the political opposition and have proved wildly popular with voters in Tanzania, where GDP per capita is still only $880.

International investors are not happy, however, especially because the details remain unclear. Magufuli fired the minister of mining in May and he has not been replaced.

Junior explorer Manas Resources expected to complete its acquisition of the Victoria Gold Project from Cienega Sarl by early 2018, but the company told Reuters it may run out of time if there is no clarity soon.

“Because of the changes in legislation and the time being taken to implement new regulations, the sector has slowed down to a point where it is impacting exploration activities and our capacity to finalise the deal,” said Manas CEO Phil Reese.

The director of one minerals company said he is shutting his Tanzanian office because he believes the laws will make it illegal for him to recoup the cost of his many unsuccessful exploration projects against the few successful ones, and require him to share his valuable geological data with the government for free.

“There will be no nickel and gold exploration in Tanzania for the foreseeable future,” the head of another company said.

Both men asked not to be named to avoid jeopardising their relations with the government.

One mining services company said it had laid off more than 50 employees in the last 18 months.

EXPORT BANS

The first serious blow to mining companies this year came in March, when Tanzania banned the export of gold and copper ore over a tax dispute with the country’s biggest gold miner, London-listed Acacia, and to encourage the construction of domestic smelters.

The government says Acacia, majority-owned by Barrick Gold , owes $190 billion in tax, penalties and interest for the period between 2000 and 2017. But miners say it would be impossible for listed and independently audited companies to hide billions of dollars in extra revenue.

They also argue Tanzania does not produce enough ore to make building a smelter commercially viable. Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, the country is also a source of graphite, diamonds, tanzanite and rare earth minerals.

Under the new regulations, the government can force mining and energy companies to renegotiate contracts to give the state at least 16 percent in projects, rising to 50 percent in some cases, and raise export royalties.

The move is not so unusual in Africa. South Africa in June raised the threshold for black ownership in miners to 30 percent.

Increasing shares of royalties is also part of a wider global trend that could lead to permanently higher prices, one mining CEO said, asking not to be identified.

The Philippines, the world’s top nickel supplier, and Brazil, which produces gold, copper, tin and bauxite, are making the same push.

“If all the governments want more of a share, commodities prices will reflect that,” the CEO said. “But if it’s just one government, they might get a bigger share of nothing.”

Miners say the problem in Tanzania is that the laws, passed in less than a week, were pushed through without consultation.

They also say it is still unclear how they will be applied - if, for example, the 16 percent will apply only to precious metals or also industrial minerals such as graphite.

The mining commission that will oversee the regulations has yet to be formed. A ministry official, who asked not to be named, said it’s not clear when it will start work.

MINING DEALS TAKE A HIT

Bigger miners can draw on cash reserves to weather the sudden changes, but junior miners are more vulnerable to investor jitters because funders are quicker to pull out when project capital injections are smaller.

London-based Tremont Investment immediately cancelled a bid for Australia’s Cradle Resources after the laws were passed. Shanta Gold cancelled a takeover bid for Helio Resource Corp. shortly thereafter, also citing the laws.

The shares of gold miner Orecorp, whose only other asset is an exploration project in Mauritania, are down 72 percent since March.

Junior miner Kibo Mining has seen little impact because in addition to gold exploration, it is developing a coal mine to fuel Tanzania’s first coal-fired power station.

Increasing government ownership was sound and warranted, Kibo Mining CEO Louis Coetzee told Reuters, but he lamented the “questionable methodology” of the process.

The government recently has shifted its attention from precious metals to precious stones, announcing on Sept. 20 that the military would build walls and checkpoints around tanzanite mines and the central bank would buy the stones.

A parliamentary inquiry team had said on Sept. 7 that it had uncovered massive smuggling of the blue-violet gemstone.

On the same day, the government confiscated a consignment of diamonds from a mine majority-owned by Petra Diamonds after accusing the firm of under-declaring the value of the stones by around half. Petra denies the charge.

Minerals companies and mining analysts said Tanzania could overplay its hand.

“Minerals may not be mobile but the capital that funds the mines is,” said Ben Gargett, head of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia-Africa practice. “Investors are saying, ‘On our risk radar, Tanzania has just gone a lot further down on the list.'”]]>
9/24/2017 10:00:44 AM
<![CDATA[Amazon affiliate to buy 1.79 billion-rupee stake in Indian retailer Shoppers Stop]]>
Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, a foreign portfolio investor, will subscribe to about 4.4 million shares, equivalent to an about 5 percent stake, in the Indian retailer at 407.78 rupees apiece on a preferential basis, Shoppers Stop told the stock exchanges late on Saturday.

On Friday, Shoppers Stop shares had closed 3 percent lower at 418.10 rupees on the National Stock Exchange.

The Amazon affiliate will not take a board position, Shoppers Stop, which operates large department stores and other retail outlets, said in the filing.]]>
9/24/2017 9:58:24 AM
<![CDATA[Oil-linked shares may be strong but N.Korea weigh on markets]]>
North Korea said on Saturday that targeting the U.S. mainland with its rockets was “inevitable”. Earlier it said it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat last week to destroy the reclusive country.

The aversion to risk drove investors on Friday into assets considered safer during times of geopolitical turmoil, such as the yen, bonds and gold.

But Brent oil settled on Friday at $56.86 a barrel, the highest close since January, as major producers meeting in Vienna said they may wait until January before deciding whether to extend output curbs beyond the first quarter.

Shares of Dana Gas may take a hit as a London High Court trial on the validity of $700 million of sukuk issued by Dana will go ahead on Monday despite a United Arab Emirates court injunction preventing the gas company and some of its creditors from taking part.

Its stock price has been volatile for several days ahead of the trial, and it closed down 1.3 percent on Wednesday. Unite Arab Emirates bourses were closed on Thursday for an Islamic New Year holiday.

Saudi Arabia’s exchange is closed on Sunday for National Day. ]]>
9/24/2017 9:57:02 AM
<![CDATA[Internet giants, once above the fray, on the defensive in Washington]]>
Just last week, the U.S. Senate took a big step toward advancing legislation that would partially strip away the internet industry’s bedrock legal protection, a 1996 law that shields companies from liability for the activities of their users.

At the same time, Democratic senators are writing legislation that would create new disclosure rules for online political ads after Facebook this month revealed that suspected Russian trolls purchased more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on its platform during the 2016 election cycle. The U.S. Federal Election Commission is considering bringing in Facebook and other tech firms for a public hearing.

Unlike in Europe, where they have faced a bevy of new rules and billion-dollar fines, internet giants have avoided virtually all types of government regulation in the United States, even as their market power continues to grow. Amazon (AMZN.O), for example, controls more than a third of U.S. online commerce, while Google and Facebook combined account for more than sixty percent of the U.S. digital ad market.

Internet firms have from their inception urged U.S. politicians in both parties to treat their industry as a nascent sector in need of unique protections. These firms enjoyed an especially close relationship with the Democratic administration of former President Barack Obama, which saw several officials go to work for Google upon leaving the White House.

But some Democrats, still bitter over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, are now expressing alarm at the industry’s power. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, this month compared political ads on social media to the “wild, wild West” and is working on legislation to require more disclosure.

On the Republican side, President Donald Trump has been hostile to the tech industry in many of his public remarks. Google and Facebook have been repeatedly attacked from the right for alleged liberal bias and a globalist outlook.

Now, the Internet firms are backpedaling from earlier positions as they seek to avoid regulation, according to congressional aides, industry lobbyists and company sources.

“Tech is no longer the golden goose,” said one technology industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Maybe it’s a good thing we start behaving like a rational part of the economy.”

Silicon Valley lobbyists and congressional aides in both parties were quick to temper talk of a sweeping regulatory crackdown, in part because the government agencies that could move against the industry, notably the Federal Trade Commission, remain severely understaffed.

But the shift in tone is palpable.

On Thursday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company, for the first time, would make it possible for anyone to see details about political ads that run on Facebook, which, unlike television ads, do not fall under U.S. law requiring disclosure of who pays for them. Requiring such transparency is one of the key provisions of the proposed legislation on online political ads.

The company also said it would turn over to congressional investigators political ads that it says were likely purchased by Russian entities during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The moves marked an about-face for Zuckerberg, who after the November election said it was a “crazy idea” to think that activity on Facebook swayed the vote.

Facebook has also shifted its stance on proposed changes to the liability protections for internet companies, formally known as Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The legislation, which is aimed at stopping online sex trafficking, has been fiercely opposed by companies that see it as a threat to openness and innovation on the internet.

But after an emotional hearing last week featuring testimony from the mother of a murdered sex-trafficking victim - which followed two big tech companies, Oracle (ORCL.N) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE.N), breaking ranks with industry peers on the issue - Facebook and Google have opened the door to negotiation on the bill, according to congressional aides and industry sources.

In a statement, Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. policy, said the company believed a legislative solution was possible to “address this terrible problem while ensuring that the internet remains open and free and that responsible companies can continue to work to stop sex trafficking before it happens.”

The tech industry in recent years has neutralized other ideas percolating in the halls of Congress that it perceived as threatening, including calls to weaken encryption and demands that social media companies report “terrorist” activity to the government.

But the effort to amend Section 230 is seen as different. The fast progress of legislation, introduced in August, has alarmed lobbyists and company representatives who initially predicted it would not go far in an otherwise gridlocked Congress.

The bill comes after years of law enforcement lobbying for a crackdown on the online classified site backpage.com, which is used for sex advertising. The measure would make it easier for states and sex trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others who fail to keep exploitative material off their platforms.

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the lead architect of the Section 230 legislation, said in an interview with Reuters that he was confident his measure would become law this congressional term, with or without Silicon Valley’s cooperation.

The bill has attracted bipartisan support from nearly a third of the Senate; a companion measure has similar backing in the House of Representatives. Portman said he had met with Trump’s daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, who expressed strong support.

“Frankly, I am disappointed (that) more in the technology industry are not joining us on this effort,” Portman said. “It is in their interest to be supportive of a solution on this problem.”]]>
9/24/2017 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Business news wrap-up]]>IFC to invest $150M to develop Egypt’s agriculture sector


The Executive Board of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) agreed on Friday to invest $150 million in Egypt’s agriculture sector, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, said in a statement Saturday.

I

DA finishes 850 factories part of larger project



The Industrial development Authority (IDA) has completed the construction of more than 850 factories, part of the “1,000 factory project” in New Cairo, a source in the authority said Saturday. He said that 400 factories of them are currently obtaining their operating licenses.

Bosch to increase its investments in Egypt



Bosch, a leading international supplier of technology and services, is considering the establishment of a number of industrial projects in Egypt, Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said Saturday.

He said that the projects will involve several industrial sectors, with the aim of supplying the market with industrial products and exporting them to neighboring countries, especially Africa.

ADFG is interested in expanding business in Egypt: CEO



Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahr Nasr said on Friday that the UAE multi-billion pound investment firm Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) is interested in increasing its investments in the education sector in Egypt.

Fayoum’s request for LE280 to fund projects is being considered



The Ministry of Planning is considering the request of Fayoum’s governor for some LE280 million to fund some projects in the governorate, Planning Minister Hala el-Said said on the sidelines of her visit to Fayoum on Saturday.

China says to ban some petroleum exports to North Korea



China said on Saturday it will ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles from the isolated North, to comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution.

'

Unfit' Uber stripped of London license, CEO tweets 'pls work w/us'



London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service on Friday and stripped it of its license to operate from the end of next week in a major blow to the U.S. firm and 3.5 million users in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.

Moody's downgrades UK's rating on Brexit and growth fears



Ratings agency Moody's downgraded Britain's credit rating by a further notch on Friday, saying the government's plans to fix the public finances had been knocked off course and Brexit would weigh on the economy.
]]>
9/23/2017 7:29:34 PM
<![CDATA[Fayoum’s request for LE280 to fund projects is being considered]]>
She said that the ministry will consider the possibility of providing the funds during next year. She added that Fayoum is one of the governorates that is not taking its fair share of development projects.

The Fayoum governor has requested some LE311 million to finance various projects, LE22 million of them for water projects and LE30 million for the construction of a ring road, among others.

On Thursday, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said that the Singapore Holding Company will invest $1 billion in its industrial complex project in Fayoum.
Established over 33 million square meters, the city comprises a mega technological valley as well as residential units.

Kabil said that a joint company will be established between the IDA and the Singaporean company to manage construction stages of the new project, adding that the IDA will provide all kinds of support, information and data related to the project.
]]>
9/23/2017 6:08:12 PM
<![CDATA[NAFTA talks intensify; U.S. set to unveil demands on key issues]]>
Teams from the United States, Mexico and Canada kicked off the third of seven planned rounds of discussions in Ottawa amid warnings from trade experts that time was quickly running out to seal a deal by the end of the year as planned.

The United States wants to strengthen rules of origin for autos, which dictate how much of a vehicle’s components must originate from within North America to qualify for tax free status under NAFTA.

Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator on Saturday said he did not think the United States would unveil specific proposals for autos rules of origin in Ottawa.

“We’re not expecting that, no,” Steve Verheul told reporters on his way into the talks, predicting the pace of the talks would nonetheless intensify.

Beefing up rules of origin is one of Washington’s main goals for modernizing NAFTA and Verheul’s remarks about a lack of specific U.S. demands means there are only four rounds left to tackle the topic.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants more U.S. content in autos, citing trade deficits of $64 billion with Mexico and $11 billion with Canada. Trump, who says NAFTA is weighted against his country, has threatened to walk away from the agreement unless he gets the changes he wants.

U.S. chief negotiator John Melle said ahead of the talks that his team would introduce the difficult provisions in Ottawa talks that are due to last for five days.

Another tricky issue is labor, given complaints from U.S. and Canadian unions that Mexico’s low wages give it a manufacturing advantage.

The United States is also expected to present text proposals on intellectual property and investment, several sources with knowledge of discussions said. Other areas of disagreement include dispute settlement mechanisms.

Canadian and Mexican officials, as well as U.S. businesses, have already rejected a proposal by Washington to include a five-year sunset provision in the updated agreement, saying it added uncertainty to business investment planning.

Canadian government figures are cautious when asked whether the end-December timetable is realistic.

“We want, not a quick deal, but we want a good deal and a fair deal,” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Friday.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Franklin Paul]]>
9/23/2017 5:41:39 PM
<![CDATA[Bosch to increase its investments in Egypt ]]>
He said that the projects will involve several industrial sectors, with the aim of supplying the market with industrial products and exporting them to neighboring countries, especially Africa.

This came during Kabil’s meeting with Markus Thill, Bosch’s President with responsibility for the region Africa, where they reviewed the company’s current and upcoming projects in Egypt.

Kabil said that Bosch is keen on working in Egypt, considering it an important logistical hub in the Middle East and Africa.

He said that the company is “seeking to benefit from the free trade agreements signed between Egypt and a number of countries as well as trade blocs, especially the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)”.

Kabil further said that Bosch is now conducting studies on the Egyptian market in preparation for the execution of new projects in the coming period. Thill said that the Egyptian market is important for his company, as one of Africa’s most promising markets, and that the company will increase its investments in Egypt in the coming period.
]]>
9/23/2017 4:03:25 PM
<![CDATA[China says to ban some petroleum exports to North Korea]]>
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website that China would limit exports of refined petroleum products from Oct. 1, and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately.

Imports of textiles from North Korea would also be banned immediately, the statement said.]]>
9/23/2017 3:22:49 PM
<![CDATA[Fed officials in muddle over permanent vs temporary inflation lull]]>
The resolution of that debate will be critical to whether the Fed proceeds with an expected December rate increase and more hikes next year, or concludes that the inflation “mystery” is evidence of a change in how global prices are set. It is also central to an issue of broad political and economic importance: how low the unemployment rate can fall before rising wages and competition for goods starts pushing price increases to uncomfortable levels.

“We are all trying to get a grip on it,” Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said of discussion within the Fed over why an unemployment rate in the low four percent range has not led to greater inflation pressure, as it would under standard theories about the “Phillips Curve” tradeoff between a tight jobs market and rising prices.

With the most recent Fed projections showing unemployment falling to 4.1 percent in coming months with inflation still below the Fed’s 2 percent target, Kaplan said he is becoming convinced other forces are at work.

It may be global supply chains, he said, or technology giving consumers more pricing power. Either way, he said, the Fed could possibly let unemployment fall further without worrying about inflation rising too fast.

The recent projections “tells you people have started to conclude we can run a lower unemployment rate without inflation,” Kaplan said. “Then the question is why. I am putting forward the structural view.”

Fed Chair Janet Yellen called the behavior of inflation a “mystery,” though she has generally said she remains convinced tight labor markets will ultimately lead to rising prices.

The Fed’s most recent projections showed a solid majority of policymakers expecting to raise rates in December.

But the path from there is less clear. Some officials still expect traditional dynamics to emerge if unemployment stays low, and also argue it would be worse for workers if the Fed has to play catch-up and raise rates faster.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George said the recent weak inflation readings - the Fed’s preferred measure was most recently 1.4 percent - was no reason for the Fed to back away from a continued gradual pace of rate increases.

“It is hard for me to see...any of that is related to weak economic activity,” at a time of low unemployment and still strong consumer confidence, said George, who has long argued that it was time to raise interest rates to more normal levels.

The expected gradual pace of rate increases is “appropriate...but we do have to keep moving,” she said.

Fed officials, following their regular policy meeting, indicated on Wednesday they are prepared to raise rates again in December and three times next year.]]>
9/23/2017 3:13:50 PM
<![CDATA[IDA finishes 850 factories part of larger project]]>
He said that 400 factories of them are currently obtaining their operating licenses.

The project was initially announced by former president Hosni Mubarak, during his presidential campaign in 2005. It entailed the provision of small plots of lands, ranging between 300-600 square meters, to build small factories or workshops.

However, the project did not achieve the aimed target as most of the people who got the lands were not investors and did not have any investment plans, so they kept the land for long until they sold them.

In 2014, President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi restarted the project so that it includes small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and procedures for obtaining operating licenses for them have been simplified.

The construction of the project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.
Egypt approved in may a new Industrial Permits Act that aims at easing measures for obtaining licenses for industrial establishments.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has issued the law’s executive regulations on August 13. Under the law, 80 percent of the projects will be granted licenses upon notifications, while 20 percent will have to wait for the approval of the IDA due to being categorized as “risky” industries.
]]>
9/23/2017 2:39:41 PM
<![CDATA[Trump, Republicans to showcase tax cut for businesses]]>
The “Big Six” team of Republican tax policy makers is expected to release a plan on Wednesday targeting tax cuts for businesses, but offering few clues about how to replace reduced federal revenues, said lobbyists and congressional sources.

Under pressure from corporate America, the team is expected to call for a corporate income tax target rate possibly within a range of 18-23 percent, down from the current rate of 35 percent.

But the Big Six, which includes top Trump aides and congressional Republican leaders, is expected to refrain from cutting the top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent, in a risky step that many Republicans in the House of Representatives could find hard to swallow.

“They’re not going to cut the highest income tax rate. They’re not,” predicted Stephen Moore, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. Moore helped write Trump’s campaign tax plan.

Overhauling the tax code was a key pledge for Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign. But after eight months in office, he has made only limited progress. Washington has achieved no major tax overhaul since 1986.

Trump portrays lower corporate taxes as a boon to workers, saying they would lead to more jobs and higher salaries. A rate cut on corporate profits could also be used to benefit shareholders and to offer up more executive bonuses, however.

“The details leaking out of the Big Six meetings paint a clear picture of an unprecedented tax giveaway for the most fortunate and biggest corporations,” Senator Ron Wyden, top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said this week.

The Big Six -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and two tax committee chairmen -- have been working on their plan for months.

But they are still undecided on key issues, including whether to let businesses write off new investments immediately; how to lower tax rates for small businesses; and whether to cut middle-class taxes simply by doubling the standard deduction for individuals and families, according to lobbyists.

Resolving such issues will help determine how aggressively Republicans can cut corporate taxes.

Lobbyists said they do not expect the Big Six to offer many details about the tax loopholes and deductions that could be eliminated to help pay for tax cuts.

“Our expectation is that it will be a bold transformative tax reform. That would mean a dramatic corporate rate cut, an aggressive stripping out of set-asides and special interest carve-outs and simplification,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a political group backed by billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch.

White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom declined to comment on the blueprint. “We have always said that tax reform will include lowering rates, closing loopholes and broadening the base by ending special interest tax breaks. Those priorities will be reflected in the plan,” she said.

The Big Six will likely address the estimated $2.6 trillion in U.S. corporate profits held overseas by requiring companies to bring the money home at rates of 3.5 percent for reinvested profits and 8.75 percent for on cash and equivalents, lobbyists said.

To offset lost revenue, the Trump administration plans to forecast a flood of new tax revenue in coming years, based on aggressive assumptions of tax-fueled economic expansion.

But Senate Republicans have shown signs of moving away from such “dynamic” scoring of any tax legislation impact.

Two senators, including a prominent fiscal hawk, agreed this week to a “static” score that could allow tax reform to lose up to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Senate Republicans also are likely to avoid budget baseline changes to generate savings for tax reform on paper.

That could well mean the Big Six plan would balloon the federal budget deficit.

“Without those, the price goes up. There’s no other way to look at it,” said John Gimigliano, a former House Ways and Means Committee tax counsel who leads federal legislative and regulatory services at KPMG LLP.]]>
9/23/2017 2:14:53 PM
<![CDATA[Britain's minister for London slams 'blanket ban' on Uber]]>
The British capital’s transport regulator deemed Uber unfit to run a tax service and said its licence would not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the opposition Labour Party, backed the move.

“At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded,” Greg Hands, the government minister for London, wrote on Twitter late on Friday.

He said Uber had to address safety concerns and it was important that there was a level playing field across the private hire market.

“But blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, showing that the mayor is closed to business & innovation,” Hands tweeted. “Once again the actions of Labour leave ordinary working people (to) pay the price for it.”

In backing the decision to strip Uber of its licence, Khan said: “All private-hire operators in London need to play by the rules. The safety and security of customers must be paramount.”

Uber has said it will contest the decision. Regulator Transport for London (TfL) said it would let Uber operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.

Uber has turned to customers to help defend itself in other battles around the world, and an online petition to support Uber in London gathered nearly 430,000 signatures by early Saturday.

In Friday’s announcement, TfL cited concerns about Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, background checks on drivers and software that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app.]]>
9/23/2017 2:04:48 PM
<![CDATA[IFC to invest $150M to develop Egypt’s agriculture sector]]>
The investments are in light of the partnership between the government and the private sector, aiming to improve the food sector through the use of latest technology in manufacturing.

The decision came after one day from the meeting between President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group (WBG) Thursday, on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

During the meeting, they agreed on increasing cooperation between Egypt and all the bank’s affiliates, including the IFC.

Nasr noted that the decision also came four days after the executive board of the International Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), one of WBG’s agencies, pledged $210 million to a number of international companies involved in a “huge” project to produce solar energy in Egypt.

With investments exceeding $2 billion, the project involves six groups of international and local private sector companies that will construct 11 solar plants in Egypt with at a total capacity of 490MW.]]>
9/23/2017 1:52:52 PM
<![CDATA[Despite tough talk, Canada seen unlikely to walk away from NAFTA]]>
Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States will gather in Ottawa on Saturday for the third round of talks on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement with many tough items yet to be broached.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will ditch the pact unless major changes in are made. Canada last month suggested it could walk away if the United States pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism.

But insiders say leaving the table remains very much a last-ditch measure for the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The desire is 100 percent to modernize ... it is still true to say no deal is better than a bad deal but obviously that would be a pretty extraordinary set of circumstances,” said one person familiar with government thinking.

The United States accounts for 75 percent of goods exports from Canada, where firms flourish operating next to the world’s largest economy. Transport costs are low, both nations operate in English and employ the same business practices.

If NAFTA ceased to exist, Canadian and Mexican exports would in theory be subject to a 3.5 percent tariff applicable to members of the World Trade Organization.

A survey by Export Development Canada last year predicted that under such scenario, Canadian gross domestic product would shrink by 1.9 percent a year and many jobs would be lost.

Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, supply chains have become so integrated that borders barely exist, especially for key sectors such as the auto industry.

“Is this the most important trade agreement for Canada? Damn right it is,” said Dennis Darby, president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, adding that dismantling the deal would be like trying to “unwind a clock”.

Mexico, which has a much more tense relationship with Trump than Canada does, is more assertive. While an even greater share of its exports - around 80 percent - go to the United States its officials point out that half of that is not subject to NAFTA rules.

Experts say some Mexican firms choose to pay WTO tariffs rather than follow complex procedures to get their goods into the United States duty-free.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray last week told Reuters “there would be no leap into the abyss” if NAFTA vanished and said Mexico would deepen trade with other nations.

ENDURING CONCERN

Similar data for Canada was not immediately available, but Canadian exports of softwood lumber, for example, are not covered by NAFTA.

The dependence on a single market has worried Canadian governments on and off since the early 1970s, when the Liberal administration of Pierre Trudeau - Justin’s father - tried to boost access to Japan and the European Union.

Yet by 2000, the share of Canadian goods exports going to the United States had risen to a staggering 84 percent from 67 percent in 1973.

“The major economies outside of North America have trouble taking Canada seriously ... it’s not easy being Canadian,” said Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to Washington who worked on NAFTA.

It took Canada the better part of a decade to nail down a free trade deal with the European Union, which went into effect on Thursday.

Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says this means Canada will be a market that has preferential access to more than 1.2 billion consumers in 40 nations.

“The United States will always remain our largest trading partner because the geography dictates that. It’s been a very fruitful relationship ... but you also have to look at the future,” he said.

Whether firms see it that way is another matter. Burney and others have long complained about what they see as a lack of global ambitions.

“For many companies, why should they go beyond North America? It’s just there, it’s a big market, it’s easy and why try to go to Europe or Asia? It’s a lot of work and it’s difficult,” said University of Ottawa professor Patrick Leblond, one of Canada’s leading trade experts.

Burney said Canada could use more leverage when negotiating with the United States by intensifying efforts to diversify exports to China.

“Right now, they (the Americans) think both Mexico and Canada don’t have any other options,” he said.

But although the Liberals came to power in 2015 promising to expand trade with China and India, those familiar with the pace of exploratory negotiations say it could take a decade for significant deals to be signed.]]>
9/23/2017 1:37:29 PM
<![CDATA[Shorting volatility: Rising risks mean itchier trigger fingers]]>
U.S. equity market volatility - the daily fluctuations in stock prices - has hovered near record lows for much of this year.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, a gauge of the degree to which investors expect share prices to fluctuate, has averaged 11.4 this year. That is lower than for any comparable period over its nearly three-decade history.

Robust corporate earnings, encouraging economic growth and a view that world central banks are available to rescue markets if trouble strikes, have helped mute stock market gyrations and spell success for those betting on calm.

The VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV.P), which makes money as long as the volatility drops or holds in place, is up about 100 percent this year.

Some traders, however, have grown more wary of increased risks to the trade.

“I think a lot of folks have gotten lulled into a false sense of security because the short trade has gone so well for so long,” said Matt Thompson co-head of Volatility Group at Typhon Capital LLC, in Chicago.

“We are still shorting volatility but we have an itchier trigger finger.”

VOLATILITY-LINKED ETPs

While there are many ways to short volatility - bet on lower stock gyrations - investors’ hunger for this trade is particularly apparent in the growth in volatility-linked exchange traded products (ETPs).

Assets under management for the top two short volatility products is at $2.8 billion and their exposure to volatility is at an all-time high, according to Barclays Capital.

But the very popularity of the trade has cranked up the risk.

These products hold first and second month volatility futures, buying and selling these contracts daily to keep their volatility exposure in line with the level of stock swings in the market.

Managers of these leveraged and inverse products are required to buy volatility futures as they go up and sell when they decline.

Strategists fear that this rebalancing - which needs be even more pronounced if a shock follows a period of unusually muted volatility, such as now - may be akin to adding fuel to fire.

“There could be a feedback effect and maybe selling begets more selling,” said Salil Aggarwal, equity derivatives strategist at Deutsche Bank in New York.

“Risk/reward considerations would imply cutting positions to more manageable levels,” he said.

RISK VS REWARD

Meanwhile, investors are not reaping as much for taking on risk as they did in the past, said Anand Omprakash, director of equity and derivative strategy at BNP Paribas, in New York.

What traders are being paid to take on the short volatility risk currently, is slightly below their average historical take since January 2013, and roughly 6 percent lower than what they were paid monthly in mid-2016, Omprakash estimates.

“You were being paid much better for much of 2016 than for much of 2017,” he said. “I don’t know if I would necessarily say the trade has run out of steam, but I don’t think it offers the kind of risk adjusted return that it offered last year.”

And the stakes are high. Strategists warn that one or two big shocks could wipe away months of profits.

The inverse volatility product XIV, while having doubled in price this year, logged an 11.4 percent decline in August as stock gyrations picked up briefly amid escalating worries about the ability of the administration of President Donald Trump to push through its economic agenda.

“The risk/reward of the trade as a buy and hold proposition is not the same as it was before the U.S. election or in the middle of the oil crisis in 2015 and early 2016,” said Stephen Aniston, president of investment adviser Black Peak Capital, in Connecticut.

Positioning in these products, primarily driven by retail players, may be more skewed to the short side than the broader market where institutional investors hold sway.

“I don’t think the risk is necessarily as big on the institutional side as it is on the retail side,” said Omprakash.

To be sure, not everyone is rushing to bet on a spike in volatility, but experts do warn that investors should tread carefully when shorting volatility from here.]]>
9/23/2017 1:24:16 PM
<![CDATA[Ross says NAFTA negotiations face timing pressure in 2018: CNBC]]>
“If you get much into 2018, the political calendar will overwhelm the trade calendar,” Ross told CNBC in an interview, adding that auto parts are a key issue in the effort to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement.]]>
9/23/2017 1:21:50 PM
<![CDATA['Unfit' Uber stripped of London license, CEO tweets 'pls work w/us']]>
In a break with the startup’s usual combative tone, Uber’s new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi asked London to please work with the ride service. He told employees the company needed to act with integrity but that he did not believe Uber had done everything it was accused of in London.

Uber, which has 40,000 drivers working in the capital, also said it would contest the decision.

The British capital’s transport regulator said the Silicon Valley technology giant’s approach and conduct was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire license and it would not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.

Regulator Transport for London (TfL) said it would let Uber operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.

“Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” TfL said.

Specifically, TfL cited Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, background checks on drivers and software called Greyball that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app.]]>
9/23/2017 1:14:50 PM
<![CDATA[ADFG is interested in expanding business in Egypt: CEO]]>
The minister made the remarks following a meeting with Jassim Mohammed al Siddiqi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Emirati privately-owned investment company.

During the meeting, Siddiqi hailed efforts exerted by Egypt’s government to lure businesses into the country, the statement said.

According to the statement, Siddiqi said the ADFG has strong interest in ploughing cash into the education sector in Egypt. ]]>
9/23/2017 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Bond prices, yen rise on North Korea concerns]]>
North Korea said it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's threat on Tuesday to destroy the reclusive country.

The aversion to risk drove investors into assets considered safer during times of geopolitical turmoil, like the yen, bonds and gold, though the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 stock index reversed mild losses late in the day to end higher.

"Increasing tensions with North Korea is putting a little bit of selling pressure on the dollar, especially against the Japanese yen," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. "Keep in mind, the yen is bouncing off of about a two-month low."

The U.S. dollar had scaled a two-month peak of 112.71 against the yen on Thursday, boosted by the Federal Reserve signaling this week that it was still on track to raise U.S. interest rates by the end of the year, and after the Bank of Japan maintained its bond-buying pledge.

The yen strengthened 0.44 percent versus the greenback to 112.00 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3484, down 0.69 percent on the day.

Sterling slipped and Britain's main stock index climbed after Prime Minister Theresa May laid out plans for the country's exit from the European Union.

May called for Britain to stay in the EU's single market during a roughly two-year transition out of the EU. The FTSE 100 stock index rose 0.6 percent.

TREASURY PRICES UP

U.S. Treasury prices gained on concerns about conflict with North Korea. Benchmark 10-year notes rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.2534 percent, from 2.278 percent late on Thursday.

Gold recovered from a four-week low in the previous session. Spot gold added 0.4 percent to $1,296.56 an ounce.

In U.S. stocks, investor focus on Washington's latest healthcare legislation proposal and gains in energy shares overshadowed concern over geopolitical tensions.

Shares of health insurers cut losses and some ended higher after U.S. Senator John McCain said he opposes the latest plan to replace President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

The energy index was up 0.5 percent, following gains in oil prices. Also, the Russell 2000 index closed at a record high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.64 points, or 0.04 percent, to end at 22,349.59, the S&P 500 gained 1.62 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,502.22 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.23 points, or 0.07 percent, to 6,426.92.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.08 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.13 percent.

Helping support the gains in Europe, euro zone businesses ended the third quarter with much stronger growth than predicted, adding to evidence of the region's new-found dynamism which has spurred strong inflows into European equities this year.

Oil prices rose as major producers meeting in Vienna said they may wait until January before deciding whether to extend output curbs beyond the first quarter.

Brent crude rose 43 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $56.86 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled at $50.66, up 11 cents or 0.2 percent, within a few cents of its May peak.]]>
9/23/2017 4:02:00 AM
<![CDATA[Moody's downgrades UK's rating on Brexit and growth fears]]>
A few hours after Prime Minister Theresa May set out plans for a new relationship with the European Union, Moody's cut the rating to Aa2 from Aa1, underscoring the economic risks that leaving the bloc poses for the world's fifth-biggest economy.

Britain has worked down its budget deficit from about 10 percent of economic output in 2010, shortly after the global financial crisis hammered the country, to 2.3 percent in the most recent financial year which ended in March.

But Moody's said the outlook for public finances had weakened significantly as May's government increasingly put into question the austerity push pursued by former prime minister David Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne.

The government responded by saying Moody's assessment of the Brexit hit to the economy was "outdated" and that May had set out an "ambitious vision for the UK's future relationship with the EU" in a speech earlier on Friday.

The Moody's downgrade was made after a meeting with the government on Sept. 19 and did not reflect May's speech on Friday, the government said.

Nonetheless, Moody's verdict on Britain's public finances will make for grim reading for May and her finance minister Philip Hammond.

After seven years of austerity, the government was coming under pressure to ease its squeeze on public finances and a recent relaxation of a tight public sector pay cap for police and prison workers was likely to be broadened, Moody's said.

Furthermore, a deal struck by May with a small political party in Northern Ireland after she lost her parliamentary majority in June's election and the dropping of plans to review costly pension increases would also weigh on the public purse.

"Overall, Moody's expects spending to be significantly higher than under the government's current budgetary plans," Moody's said.

On the tax side, it noted how the government abandoned a controversial plan to raise national insurance contributions for self-employed workers and was reliant on "highly uncertain revenue gains from tackling tax avoidance to fund tax cuts".

As a result, the budget deficit was likely to remain at around 3-3.5 percent of GDP in the coming years, higher than the government's plans to cut it below 1 percent of GDP by 2021/22.

That meant Britain was one of the few big European economies where the public debt ratio was likely to rise, probably peaking at about 93 percent of GDP in 2019, two years later than under the latest government plans.

BREXIT HIT

At the same time, budget pressures would rise as Britain's economy slowed due to Brexit, with growth of just 1 percent likely next year, down from 1.8 percent in 2017 and not recovering to its historic trend rate over the coming years.

Moody's said it was no longer confident that Britain would secure a replacement free trade agreement with the EU which substantially mitigated the Brexit hit.

"While the government seeks a 'deep and comprehensive free trade agreement' with the EU, even such a best-case scenario would not award the same access to the EU single market that the UK currently enjoys," it said.

Britain's government said Moody's move brought it into line with the other major credit ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor's.

Moody's revised up its outlook on the country to stable from negative, meaning a further downgrade is not imminent. ]]>
9/23/2017 2:36:00 AM
<![CDATA[Germany limits export guarantees for Turkey trade amid rift]]>
The "Hermes" guarantees provide German government protection for German companies when foreign debtors fail to pay.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking re-election on Sunday, has vowed to restrict trade with Turkey to pressure it into releasing around a dozen German or Turkish-German citizens arrested in recent months on political grounds.

Bilateral relations, already strained, have soured further over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on opponents following a failed coup last year. Germany and its partners in the European Union say the crackdown and a referendum that granted Erdogan sweeping powers undermine Turkish democracy.

"The government has agreed to limit so-called Hermes debt guarantees for business with Turkey to a total amount of 1.5 billion euros for 2017," a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry told a regular government news conference in Berlin.

Germany is the second biggest foreign investor in Turkey, with investments totalling more than 13.3 billion euros ($15.9 billion) since 1980, according to the German foreign ministry. ($1 = 0.8352 euros).]]>
9/22/2017 3:27:30 PM
<![CDATA[Uber stripped of London licence]]>
Regulator Transport for London (TfL) said Uber's conduct posed risks to public safety and it would not renew its licence when it expires on Sept. 30. Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until the appeal process has finished.

"Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications," TfL said.

Uber, which accounts for a third of private hire vehicles on London's streets, said it would contest the decision.

"Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice," said Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager in London. "We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts."

Uber has been attacked by London's black cab drivers who say it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods. The U.S. firm has also faced criticism from unions and lawmakers and been embroiled in legal battles over workers' rights.

Uber has endured a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the Silicon Valley start-up that forced out former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

The app has been forced to quit several countries including Denmark and Hungary and faced regulatory battles in multiple U.S. states and countries around the world.

One of Uber's British competitors in London, Addison Lee, is also awaiting a decision from TfL about a longer-term licence. The company declined to comment on Friday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he backed the decision to reject Uber's application for a new licence.

"All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect - particularly when it comes to the safety of customers," he said.

"It would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security."

]]>
9/22/2017 2:56:19 PM
<![CDATA[North Korea jitters ease as focus moves to Brexit speech]]>
Europe’s main stock index recovered from early losses following a sell-off in Asian stocks and a rush to safe-haven currencies after North Korea said it might test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

Risk aversion drove investors into the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, with the Swiss currency up 0.3 percent to 0.9681 francs per dollar CHF=, while the yen JPY= firmed 0.5 percent. Safe-haven gold XAU= rose 0.4 percent.

European benchmarks swung into positive territory, though the mining sector .SXPP still showed signs of strain as metals prices were battered by the heightened geopolitical risk in Asia.

U.S. stock futures indicated a 0.2 percent fall for the S&P 500 ESc1, though markets were showing growing signs of fatigue over the belligerent U.S.-North Korea rhetoric.

“North Korea poses such a binary risk that it’s very hard to price, and at the moment investors just have to look through it,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

European investors were shifting focus from North Korea to a keenly anticipated speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence, in which she was expected to update her vision of the Brexit negotiations.

Brexit bellwether sterling hovered at a two-month high against the euro EURGBP=D3, having firmed against both euro and dollar this week as traders anticipated May would strike a softer tone on negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU.

“Sterling’s rally in the past couple of weeks is partly in reaction to the Bank of England but also reflects an assumption that it’s more likely we do get a transitional deal,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

“If that’s what May is laying out today that would be supportive, but I think you have seen a lot of that move priced in already,” he added.

Options markets were pricing a large GBP/USD reaction to the speech, as investors bought protection against sharp fluctuations.

Euro zone businesses ended the third quarter with much stronger growth than predicted, PMI surveys showed, adding to evidence of the region’s newfound dynamism which has spurred strong inflows into European equities this year.

“This encouraging economic backdrop is strengthening the EU governments’ optimism about the future, helping to reinforce their firm stance vis a vis the UK in the Brexit negotiations,” said Societe Generale cross-asset strategists.

The euro gained 0.4 percent to $1.1989 EUR=, on track to end the week higher.

The dollar index .DXY against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.4 percent at 91.86.

Crude oil prices CLc1 steadied as ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers geared up to meet later on Friday to discuss a possible extension of supply cuts.

Brent crude LCOc1 hovered after hitting a five-month high at $56.63 a barrel.

The 10-year Treasury yield US10YT=RR declined about 2 basis points to 2.255 percent as risk aversion favored government bonds. It had risen for nine consecutive sessions prior, brushing a six-week high of 2.289 percent.

German bond yields DE10YT=RR hardly budged ahead of elections on Sunday which market participants said would yield no big surprises with Chancellor Merkel likely to win a fourth term.

MSCI’s world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 46 countries, remained on track to eke out a weekly gain, holding near its latest record high hit on Wednesday as investors’ enthusiasm for stocks showed few signs of waning.
]]>
9/22/2017 2:13:44 PM
<![CDATA[Euro zone businesses race ahead, point to strong growth]]>
That energy, alongside rising inflationary pressures, is likely to increase expectations the European Central Bank will announce plans next month to reduce its monthly spending on quantitative easing.

IHS Markit’s euro zone Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for September, seen as a good guide to economic growth, bounced to 56.7 from August’s 55.7, comfortably above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.

September's reading was above all forecasts in a Reuters poll, which had predicted a dip to 55.5. The euro gained 0.4 percent to $1.1989 EUR=, on track to end the week higher.

Earlier PMIs from Germany and France showed activity in the bloc’s two biggest economies also exceeded the top end of expectations in Reuters polls.

“The euro zone PMI suggests that the economy remains very strong and will embolden policymakers at the ECB. Indeed, the price indices of the Composite PMI also picked up in September,” said Stephen Brown at Capital Economics.

The PMI pointed to third-quarter growth of 0.7 percent, IHS Markit said, faster than the median forecast in a Reuters poll last week for 0.5 percent.

The upturn came despite businesses increasing prices at one of the fastest rates this year. The output price index rose to 52.6 from 52.1.

“This rounds out a run of data that provide evidence of building pipeline inflation pressures. This will help to build a case for ECB tapering next year,” said Bert Colijn at ING.

The ECB will announce in October a six-month extension to its asset purchase program but will cut how much it buys each month to 40 billion euros from January, a Reuters poll of economists found last week.

The PMI for manufacturing soared to 58.2 from 57.4, confounding expectations for a fall to 57.1 and chalking up its highest reading since February 2011. An index measuring output rose to a 6 1/2-year high of 59.5 from 58.3.

Suggesting the solid pace would be maintained next month, factories built up a surplus of orders at the steepest rate in the sub-index’s 15-year history. The backlogs of work index was 57.8, compared with August’s 57.1.

“Firms are scrambling to expand capacity as fast as possible to meet order-book growth and rising backlogs is presenting them with huge problems,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

Companies in the bloc’s dominant service industry also had a much better month than expected - their PMI rose to 55.6. A Reuters poll had predicted no change from August’s 54.7.

With activity thriving and new orders flooding in, their optimism also increased. The business expectations index jumped to 66.1 from 64.0.]]>
9/22/2017 2:11:01 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia to implement bankruptcy law in early 2018: Al Arabiya]]>
Under current legislation there is no easy way to wind up the activities of indebted companies in Saudi Arabia and the new law could help with government plans to restructure the economy and make it more attractive to outside investors.

“(The) bankruptcy law has been passed to the Shura Council and we expect it to be implemented by the end of the first quarter of 2018,” Commerce and Investment Minister Majid al-Qusaibi said in an interview according to Al Arabiya’s website.

Saudi Arabia is also working on new laws regarding commercial mortgages and commercial franchising, Qusaibi said in New York on the sidelines of a business forum.

The commercial mortgages measures will be passed to the Shura Council in the next two to three weeks while the commercial franchising regulations should follow soon after, he said. The Shura Council is an appointed body that advises on new laws and functions in place of an elected parliament.

The International Monetary Fund cited the planned laws in May when it praised Saudi Arabia for making progress towards identifying and reducing obstacles to private sector growth.]]>
9/22/2017 2:09:00 PM
<![CDATA[GE nears sale of its industrial unit to ABB: Bloomberg]]>
The companies are likely to announce an agreement by next week, the report said on Friday.

A company spokesman for ABB said the company does not “comment on market rumors.” GE was not immediately available for comment.

GE resumed negotiations to sell its industrial solutions business to ABB after John Flannery, who became CEO on Aug.1, decided to continue to divest the industrial conglomerate’s non-core assets, Reuters had reported.

GE has been reviewing its portfolio after divesting its finance, appliances and NBCUniversal units in recent years.

The company has also been under pressure from Nelson Peltz’s activist hedge fund Trian Fund Management LP to cut costs and focus on its core industrial businesses.

Earlier this year, GE agreed to sell its industrial water treatment business to French waste and water group Suez SA (SEVI.PA) and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for 3.2 billion euros ($3.4 billion).

GE’s shares were marginally up at $24.96 in very light premarket trading.]]>
9/22/2017 2:07:16 PM
<![CDATA[South Africa's business lobby group suspends KPMG over Gupta scandal]]>
KPMG dismissed its South African division’s top management last week following an internal investigation which found that work it did for firms owned by the Gupta family, a trio of businessmen accused by a watchdog of improperly influencing the award of government contracts, “fell considerably short” of KPMG’s standards.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) said KPMG’s membership would be suspended pending the outcome of an independent investigation into its conduct.

The firm is already being investigated by the country’s Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors for its work for the Gupta firms.

“BLSA recognizes the considerable steps announced by KPMG to change its leadership and commence a process of cultural change,” it said on a statement. “It cannot, however, look past the gravity of their conduct which is completely inconsistent with the values of BLSA.”

BLSA’s move is another blow for the local arm of KPMG, which has already lost at least three clients due to the scandal, while several other large companies that include Barclays Africa (BGAJ.J) and Investec (INLJ.J) are reviewing their ties with the firm.

Meanwhile South Africa’s second largest bullion miner Gold Fields (GFIJ.J) said on Friday KPMG would for now continue to serve as its external auditor.

“The Gold Fields board of directors has considered the matter and will be closely following future developments in this area. KPMG remain the company’s external auditors,” the company said in a statement.

KPMG is the third global firm to face questions about its work for the Indian-born Gupta brothers.

Consulting giant McKinsey is being investigated by South Africa’s parliamentary committee on public enterprises, and the British-based public relations agency Bell Pottinger collapsed last week following a scandal over a racially-charged political campaign it ran for the Guptas in South Africa.

The Guptas and Zuma deny wrongdoing and say they are victims of a politically motivated witch-hunt. The Guptas and their companies have not been charged with any crime.]]>
9/22/2017 1:53:22 PM
<![CDATA[Hack of Wall Street regulator rattles investors, lawmakers]]>
The breach involved the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR filing system, which houses market-moving information with millions of filings ranging from quarterly earnings to statements on acquisitions.

The SEC said on Wednesday evening it discovered in August that cyber criminals might have used a hack detected in 2016 to make illicit trades.

On Wednesday afternoon, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton gave members of Congress a “courtesy call” about the hack before it was announced publicly, said Representative Bill Huizenga, chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee that oversees the SEC, in a phone call.

“It’s hugely problematic and we’ve got to be serious about how we protect that information as a regulator,” Huizenga said.

The SEC disclosure came two weeks after credit-reporting company Equifax Inc (EFX.N) said a breach had exposed sensitive personal of data up to 143 million U.S. customers. This followed last year’s cyber attack on SWIFT, the global bank messaging system.

It is particularly embarrassing for the SEC and its new boss Clayton, who has made tackling cyber crime one of the top enforcement issues.

“The chairman obviously recognizes the irony of the SEC potentially serving as the unwitting tipper in an insider trading scheme,” said John Reed Stark, president of a cyber consulting firm and a former SEC staff member.

The SEC has said it was investigating the source of the hack but did not say exactly when it happened or what sort of non-public data was retrieved. The agency said the attackers had exploited a weakness in a part of the EDGAR system and it had “promptly” fixed it.

Most reports filed with the SEC “generally don’t contain super-sensitive information,” and any insider trading would have taken place soon after company filings were made but before they were released to the public, said Gary LaBranche, president of National Investor Relations Institute.

“People are shocked and disappointed,” LaBranche said. Members of the institute, who work with 1,600 publicly traded companies, will be examining their trading reports for any unusual activity that could be tied to disclosures, he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has prioritized protection of federal agency networks after breaches during the Obama administration, including at the Office of Personnel Management, Internal Revenue Service and State Department.

Trump in May signed an executive order requiring agencies to use a specific framework to assess and manage cyber risk, and prepare a report within 90 days about how they implement it.

The SEC did not respond when asked about that review or whether it triggered the disclosure. But Clayton said in his Wednesday statement that he began reviewing the agency’s cyber risk in May.

SEC Commissioners did not learn of the breach until recently. In a statement, Republican SEC Commissioner Mike Piwowar, who for part of 2017 also served as acting chairman, said he was “recently informed for the first time that an intrusion occurred in 2016.”

Erica Elliott Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC),the top U.S. derivatives regulator, said in an emailed statement the agency constantly reviewed and updated its cybersecurity protections to guard against the growing threat of a breach.

“Our agency has successfully thwarted hundreds of attempted breaches,” she added.

The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella group representing Canada’s provincial securities regulators, said on Thursday it would conduct an additional security review.

CYBER SLEUTHS NEEDED

Clayton will be grilled on the incident and its aftermath at a hearing by the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

Banking Committee member Senator Mark Warner said in a statement he intended to ask about SEC thresholds for requiring companies to disclose breaches, and flagged the connection between the SEC’s disclosure and its market oversight role.

“Government and businesses need to step up their efforts to protect our most sensitive personal and commercial information,” Warner said.

Securities industry rules require companies disclose cyber breaches to investors and the SEC has investigated firms over whether they should have reported incidents sooner.

“There is an element of, ‘Do as we say, not as we do’ to this,” said Matt Rossi, a former counsel in the SEC’s enforcement division.

The lack of details from the SEC about the breach will likely raise questions about what other EDGAR data may have been exposed, such as information related to ongoing financial investigations and sensitive personal information, Rossi said.

Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, in office when the hack occurred, told Reuters in 2016 that cyber security posed the biggest risk to the U.S. financial system.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had detected five “critical” cyber security weaknesses on the SEC’s computers as of Jan. 23, according to a confidential weekly report reviewed by Reuters on Thursday.

And in July, months after the breach was detected, a congressional watchdog warned that the SEC was “at unnecessary risk of compromise” because of deficiencies in its information systems.

The SEC shut down a specialized unit on cyber crimes as part of a 2010 reorganization.

In 2015 a trader filed false information through EDGAR about plans a financial firm had to purchase Avon Products (AVP.N), prompting a brief surge in the stock of the beauty products company.]]>
9/22/2017 1:44:20 PM
<![CDATA[HPE plans 5,000 job cuts: Bloomberg]]>
The reductions of about 10 percent of the company's total workforce of 50,000 are expected to start before the end of the year, Bloomberg reported.

The cuts are likely to affect workers in the United States and abroad, including managers, Bloomberg added.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.]]>
9/22/2017 1:41:43 PM
<![CDATA[Venture fundraising in yuan soars as investors target Chinese tech firms]]>
Fund managers have raised 95.8 billion yuan ($14.54 billion) this year through late September in funds denominated in the Chinese currency, which is also known as the renminbi, compared with 56.7 billion yuan in all of 2016. That puts 2017 on pace to be the biggest year since 2012, when 145.8 billion yuan was raised, according to data provider Preqin.

There are currently 78 funds looking to raise as much as another 1.15 trillion yuan over the next couple of years, Preqin said, most of it coming from mammoth-sized state-owned entities and so-called government guidance funds, which seek to foster domestic innovation in different industries from advanced engineering and robotics to biotechnology and clean energy.

Those include the 350 billion yuan sought by the China Structural Reform Fund, 200 billion yuan targeted by the China State-Owned Capital Venture Investment Fund and a proposed 150 billion yuan for the state-owned Enterprise National Innovation Fund.

The enormous size of the fundraising ambitions of the Chinese state-backed funds means it may take some time before they reach their final goals. The China Structural Reform Fund, which was launched in 2016, has raised 20 percent of its registered capital and its president said in an interview with Caixin Global that funding will be completed by the end of 2018.

“We’re at the all-time highest of capital-raising high water marks, with a tsunami of government-backed entities seeding incubators, VC funds, locally, provincially, nationally,” said Peter Fuhrman, CEO of China-focused investment bank China First Capital. “China has a lot of money in its government apparatus. It wants to seed innovation and entrepreneurship and this is how it’s doing it.”

The surge contrasts with the slowdown in seed financing for start ups in the United States, which is down for the past two years. It also compares with flat growth expected for U.S. venture capital fundraising in 2017, according to estimates from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).

CATCHING ENTREPRENEURS

Firms such as Lightspeed China Partners, Morningside Venture Capital, GGV Capital and investment and merchant bank Ion Pacific that previously only had U.S. dollar funds are launching their first funds in yuan. Others like Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital China and China Renaissance that have raised funds in both currencies are adding to their yuan cash pile with new funds.

Key to those firms is to not lose potential investment opportunities in sectors closed to foreign investors or miss out on investing with the Chinese entrepreneurs who now want to list their companies locally instead of in the United States.

“Catching the right entrepreneurs in the ecosystem is our number one priority, so currencies to us are just tools, those are the tools that I need to catch these entrepreneurs,” said Harry Man, partner at Matrix Partners China, which has funds in both currencies. “That’s why if you don’t have RMB in your hand, ultimately you’ll be missing 50 percent of the deals. Then you’ll be forced to raise an RMB fund and that’s why everybody is doing it.”

Sequoia Capital China, which backed top Chinese technology firms such as Alibaba Group (BABA.N), is looking to raise at least 10 billion yuan for a new fund, while Hillhouse Capital, an early investor in companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) and JD.com Inc (JD.O), is targeting about 8 billion yuan for its fund, sources told Reuters.

The investment management arm of securities firm China Renaissance is also adding to its yuan reserves with a new fund worth about 6 billion yuan, according to a person familiar with the plans who couldn’t be named because details of the fundraising aren’t yet public. Ion Pacific is raising 1 billion yuan for its debut fund in the Chinese currency, while GGV Capital is about to close fundraising for its first yuan-denominated fund.

“Some sectors don’t allow foreign investors, so for example, in the culture and media industry you need to apply for certain licenses like video licenses and you need to be a local investor,” said Helen Wong, a partner at Qiming Venture Partners.

“Now the IPO window is open for the local stock market, so that encourages a lot of companies to go for a local listing,” she added, in reference to the increase in IPO approvals by regulators in 2017 that is prompting more companies to start preparations to go public. Previously, a slow approval process and long line of companies waiting for clearance dissuaded many from those plans.

The shift would give an added boost to the Shenzhen and Shanghai bourses. China has had 322 new listings this year, raising a combined $22.9 billion, Thomson Reuters data showed. This already surpasses the 252 for all of 2016, even after the country’s securities regulator slowed the number of weekly IPO approvals in May.

It could also reduce the influence of the Nasdaq and New York stock exchanges, where many Chinese technology companies previously flocked when they went public.

“For the RMB side, you see more companies in restricted sectors like healthcare and media and certain parts of cleantech that needs government support to get started,” said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital. “You also see companies in the fintech space and a lot of them need a license to operate a business in the financial services industry, so they tend to want to list in China.”]]>
9/22/2017 1:39:35 PM
<![CDATA[China's Baidu launches $1.5 billion autonomous driving fund]]>
The “Apollo Fund” will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years, Baidu said in a statement.

The fund’s launch coincides with the release of Apollo 1.5, the second generation of the company’s open-source autonomous vehicle software.

After years of internal development, Baidu in April decided to open its autonomous driving technology to third parties, a move it hopes will accelerate development and help it compete with U.S. firms Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and Google project Waymo.

In the latest update to its platform, Baidu says partners can access new obstacle perception technology and high-definition maps, among other features.

It comes amid a wider reshuffle of Baidu’s corporate strategy as it looks for new profit streams outside its core search business, which lost a large chunk of ad revenue in 2016 following strict new government regulations on medical advertising.

Baidu’s Apollo project - named after the NASA moon landing - aims to create technology for completely autonomous cars, which it says will be ready for city roads in China by 2020.

It now has 70 partners across several fields in the auto industry, up from 50 in July, it says. Existing partners include microprocessors firm Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) and mapping service TomTom NV.

Despite the rapid growth of its partner ecosystem, Baidu has faced challenges negotiating local Chinese regulations, which have previously stopped the company from testing on highways.

In July local Beijing police said it was investigating whether the company had broken city traffic rules by testing a driverless car on public roads as part of a demonstration for a press event.]]>
9/22/2017 1:36:53 PM
<![CDATA[Road to electric car paradise paved with handouts]]>
There has been a surge in sales of fully electric cars like Teslas (TSLA.O) and Nissan (7201.T) Leafs since the tunnel opened in 2009 and they now account for one in five cars on Finnoey, compared with less than 1 in 100 globally.

Twenty-nine percent of all new car registrations in Norway were fully electric or plug-in hybrids last year, according to the International Energy Agency, far ahead of the Netherlands in second on 6.4 percent and Sweden in third on 3.4. China had almost 1.5 percent and the United States less than one.

State subsidies support sales of electric cars around the world, and Norway has the most electric cars per capita thanks to the most generous handouts.

It offers nationwide tax breaks for users of electric cars than can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, plus various local incentives like exemptions from road tolls and parking fees.

“Economic incentives work, especially if they are very, very, very strong as in Finnoey,” said former Norwegian central bank governor Svein Gjedrem, who grew up on the western island chain of 3,250 people which is famous for its fish farms and tomatoes.

A reliance on state handouts complicates efforts in nations like Britain and France to phase out combustion engines in favor of battery-powered vehicles, which are far costlier, have limited ranges and often have long charging times.

It means the technology will have to become significantly cheaper if those governments are to meet pledges to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 without having to hand out crippling levels of subsidies to millions of buyers.

A tale of two contrasting Norwegian municipalities - Finnoey and neighboring Hjelmeland on the mainland - starkly illustrates the power of financial incentives on consumer behavior.

A Finnoey resident driving to work in nearby oil hub Stavanger with an electric car can save 40,000-50,000 crowns ($5,500-$6,500) a year in tunnel tolls compared with drivers of fossil-fueled cars.

Hjelmeland, by contrast, bucks the Norwegian trend by offering no local perks at all for battery-powered cars.

Almost one in 10 people on Finnoey have electrics cars, compared with fewer than one in 100 in Hjelmeland, which is much bigger and has a similar population, according to a previously unpublished ranking of all regions from state-run Statistics Norway that was provided to Reuters.

“It’s all about the economics, not about ideology,” Wictor Juul, head of administration for the Hjelmeland municipality, said of the contrasting ownership rates.

WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

Norway is among the world’s richest countries because of its oil and gas exports - yet even there electric car incentives are being curbed because of the strain on public finances and a faster-than-expected adoption of battery-powered cars.

For example, it has just scrapped nationwide directives that parking, transport by state-owned ferries and road tolls should be free for electric vehicles, instead leaving it to local authorities’ discretion. It is also reviewing tax breaks for the most expensive luxury electric cars.

So far the reversals have had no apparent impact on sales. “I‘m not too worried,” said Christina Bu, head of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, because other benefits such as an exemption from value-added tax are staying in place.

There are, however, examples elsewhere in the world of the consequences of withdrawing electric car benefits.

Sales of Nissan Leafs in the U.S. state of Georgia, for instance, plunged after authorities revoked a $5,000 tax break in 2015.

Electric car imports to Denmark fell sharply last year, bucking a European trend, after Copenhagen cut subsidies. Sales of Teslas fell to 176 from 2,738 the year before.

MUSK LOVES NORWAY

In Norway, a Tesla Model S electric sedan costs 636,000 crowns pre-tax, almost double the 320,000 crowns pre-tax cost of an Audi A7 gasoline car, the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association says.

But the Audi ends up costing more when sold - 697,000 crowns - after an array of taxes led by sales tax (140,000 crowns), carbon dioxide tax (125,000 crowns) and a special tax on the weight of the vehicle (110,000 crowns).

By contrast, a Tesla buyer is charged only a small fee for end-of-life scrapping and pays 638,000 crowns in total.

It’s little wonder that Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in June: “I love Norway, which is the world leader in EV (electric vehicle) adoption!” His company has invested heavily in Norway, for instance with fast charger networks.

The Norwegian finance ministry says basic tax breaks totaled about a cumulative 12 billion crowns by the end of 2016. There are now about 140,000 fully electric cars on the road.

Britain and France, the only two countries to announce deadlines for phasing out combustion engines, also offer generous subsidies to electric car buyers.

Buyers in Britain get a grant of up to 35 percent of the purchase price, while in France someone selling a diesel car and buying electric receives thousands of euros in benefits.

Norway’s Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen, part of a minority right-wing government that won re-election on Sept. 11, acknowledged that the country’s subsidies model was expensive.

But he predicted advances in the technology would mean electric cars would be competitive in price with combustion engine cars in the early 2020s.

His sentiments are echoed in Finnoey by Mayor Henrik Halleland who thinks battery-powered car sales could ultimately survive without large financial incentives.

The island’s tunnel toll charges for combustion engines go toward paying the 550 million crown cost of building the tunnel. Once the debt is paid, the tunnel will be free for all.

“Electric cars are getting so good that people will buy them anyway,” said Halleland.

Still, he now wants electric car owners to pay 50 percent of the rate paid by diesel and gasoline cars. And he’s not planning to buy electric himself, saying he has to keep his combustion engine Mazda to pay the tolls and do his bit to pay off the tunnel.

Electric car owners are unapologetic though.

“It’s all about political choices,” said Arne Nordboe, a teacher and part-time stand-up comedian who drives a Nissan Leaf. “I think it would be reasonable when electric cars get cheaper and cheaper and more useful, then I can pay more.”]]>
9/22/2017 1:34:22 PM
<![CDATA[Abu Dhabi financial group for more investment in Egypt]]>
Nasr said that the ministry welcomes UAE investors in Egypt, referring to the procedures taken by the ministry to improve the investment climate, in order to raise growth rates and support the economy, the statement added Seddiqi said these procedures aim at developing the investment environment by issuing the investment law, which has encouraged Emirati investors to scale up their investments in Egypt. He also clarified that his country is investing in Egypt now through Capital and Brouj real estate groups, and recently they managed to own 48.3% of Shuaa capital.

He added that his company is interested in investment in education., and Nasr said that the ministry the ministry of economy and international cooperation will coordinate with the ministry of education to explore the investment prospects in this field.
]]>
9/22/2017 1:03:17 PM
<![CDATA[China's finance ministry says S&P's ratings cut 'a wrong decision']]>
S&P on Thursday cut China’s long-term sovereign rating less than a month ahead of one of the country’s most sensitive political gatherings, citing increasing risks from its rapid build-up of debt.

China’s finance ministry said in a statement on Friday the country can maintain appropriate credit growth. It also said the government’s recent efforts to fend off financial risks will ensure the stability of its financial system and its ability to support China’s real economy.]]>
9/22/2017 12:03:55 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. yield curve flattens, stocks dip as rate views adjusted]]>
Lingering worries over North Korea added to the weaker tone in U.S. stocks, with U.S. President Donald Trump ordering new sanctions.

The Fed, as expected, also laid out plans to begin the unwinding of a decade of aggressive monetary stimulus, but took a more-hawkish-than-expected stance at this week’s meeting.

According to a Reuters poll late Wednesday of Wall Street’s top banks, the Fed will resume rate hikes in December and in 2018 raise borrowing costs three more times.

“The meeting was definitely more hawkish than what the market was anticipating,” said Mary Ann Hurley, vice president in fixed income trading at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.

“We were definitely not pricing in another rate hike for this year,” she said.

In Asia, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary spigots open. Investors have been trying to figure out what may happen to the European Central Bank money-printing program, with policymakers disagreeing on whether to set a definitive end date.

The yield curve between Treasury five-year notes and 30-year bonds US5US30=TWEB flattened to 92 basis points on Thursday, the lowest level since July 6. Intermediate-dated debt is more sensitive than longer-dated bonds to interest rate increases.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.41 percent.

The S&P 500 and Dow snapped a run of record closing highs.

Concerns over North Korea may have contributed to the bearish sentiment, said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia. He noted, however, that “we’ve had a pretty good run, and we didn’t have much to keep it going.”

Bank stocks cheered the prospect of higher interest rates, which should help their profits. The S&P bank index .SPXBK was up 0.5 percent, adding to Wednesday’s gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 53.36 points, or 0.24 percent, to end at 22,359.23, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 7.64 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,500.6 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 33.35 points, or 0.52 percent, to 6,422.69.

Emerging markets shares were lower, with an index of emerging markets .MSCIEF falling 0.4 percent.

S&P Global became the second major rating agency this year to cut China’s credit score, citing worries about the country’s rising debt levels and the risks that poses for financial stability in the world’s second largest economy.

The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies, pulling back from a more-than-two-week peak as bets stoked by the Fed’s signal on rates abated. The dollar index .DXY fell 0.35 percent.

Gold declined to its lowest in almost four weeks as investors continued to assess the Fed statement. Spot gold XAU= dropped 0.8 percent to $1,291.01 an ounce.

U.S. oil prices were down slightly before a meeting of oil producers that could extend production limits.

U.S. crude CLcv1 dipped 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $50.55 a barrel, while Brent LCOcv1 rose 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $56.43 a barrel.]]>
9/22/2017 11:07:35 AM
<![CDATA[Shares in HTC rise 9.96 percent on Google's Pixel buyout]]>
HTC Corp announced on Thursday that Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) would pay $1.1 billion for the division at HTC that develops the U.S. firm’s Pixel smartphones.

]]>
9/22/2017 11:05:02 AM
<![CDATA[Despite tough talk, Canada seen unlikely to walk away from NAFTA]]>
Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States will gather in Ottawa on Saturday for the third round of talks on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement with many tough items yet to be broached.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will ditch the pact unless major changes in are made. Canada last month suggested it could walk away if the United States pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism.

But insiders say leaving the table remains very much a last-ditch measure for the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The desire is 100 percent to modernize ... it is still true to say no deal is better than a bad deal but obviously that would be a pretty extraordinary set of circumstances,” said one person familiar with government thinking.

The United States accounts for 75 percent of goods exports from Canada, where firms flourish operating next to the world’s largest economy. Transport costs are low, both nations operate in English and employ the same business practices.

If NAFTA ceased to exist, Canadian and Mexican exports would in theory be subject to a 3.5 percent tariff applicable to members of the World Trade Organization.

A survey by Export Development Canada last year predicted that under such scenario, Canadian gross domestic product would shrink by 1.9 percent a year and many jobs would be lost.

Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, supply chains have become so integrated that borders barely exist, especially for key sectors such as the auto industry.

“Is this the most important trade agreement for Canada? Damn right it is,” said Dennis Darby, president and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, adding that dismantling the deal would be like trying to “unwind a clock”.

Mexico, which has a much more tense relationship with Trump than Canada does, is more assertive. While an even greater share of its exports - around 80 percent - go to the United States its officials point out that half of that is not subject to NAFTA rules.

Experts say some Mexican firms choose to pay WTO tariffs rather than follow complex procedures to get their goods into the United States duty-free.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray last week told Reuters “there would be no leap into the abyss” if NAFTA vanished and said Mexico would deepen trade with other nations.

ENDURING CONCERN

Similar data for Canada was not immediately available, but Canadian exports of softwood lumber, for example, are not covered by NAFTA.

The dependence on a single market has worried Canadian governments on and off since the early 1970s, when the Liberal administration of Pierre Trudeau - Justin’s father - tried to boost access to Japan and the European Union.

Yet by 2000, the share of Canadian goods exports going to the United States had risen to a staggering 84 percent from 67 percent in 1973.

“The major economies outside of North America have trouble taking Canada seriously ... it’s not easy being Canadian,” said Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to Washington who worked on NAFTA.

It took Canada the better part of a decade to nail down a free trade deal with the European Union, which went into effect on Thursday.

Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says this means Canada will be a market that has preferential access to more than 1.2 billion consumers in 40 nations.

“The United States will always remain our largest trading partner because the geography dictates that. It’s been a very fruitful relationship ... but you also have to look at the future,” he said.

Whether firms see it that way is another matter. Burney and others have long complained about what they see as a lack of global ambitions.

“For many companies, why should they go beyond North America? It’s just there, it’s a big market, it’s easy and why try to go to Europe or Asia? It’s a lot of work and it’s difficult,” said University of Ottawa professor Patrick Leblond, one of Canada’s leading trade experts.

Burney said Canada could use more leverage when negotiating with the United States by intensifying efforts to diversify exports to China.

“Right now, they (the Americans) think both Mexico and Canada don’t have any other options,” he said.

But although the Liberals came to power in 2015 promising to expand trade with China and India, those familiar with the pace of exploratory negotiations say it could take a decade for significant deals to be signed.]]>
9/22/2017 11:00:07 AM
<![CDATA[IMF says BOJ should maintain massive stimulus]]>
Odd Per Brekk, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief for Japan, said the BOJ will likely lag behind the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in normalising monetary policy.

“But we think this is appropriate, as monetary policy is focused on domestic conditions and domestic conditions are different among countries and regions,” he said in a seminar.

He also said a gradual, steady increase in the sales tax, coupled with steps to curb social security spending, is the most growth-friendly way to achieve medium-term fiscal reform.]]>
9/22/2017 10:57:02 AM
<![CDATA[Asia stocks slip, yen and franc rise as North Korea moots H-bomb test]]>
Spreadbetters expected European stocks to start lower amid a chill in risk appetite, forecasting Britain's FTSE .FTSE to open down 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX .GDAXI to open 0.2 percent and France's CAC .FCHI to start 0.05 percent lower.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Friday he believes the North could consider a nuclear test on an “unprecedented scale” in the Pacific Ocean, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS handed back earlier gains and was down 0.7 percent.

The index rose to a decade high on Tuesday, lifted as Wall Street advanced to record levels, but fell back after the Fed heightened expectations for a third interest rate hike this year.

South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 fell 0.9 percent on the latest bout of geopolitical tensions.

Australian stocks managed to advance 0.3 percent while Japan's Nikkei .N225 slipped 0.4 percent following a rise to a two-year high on Thursday.

“The headline about North Korea’s nuclear test gave a little shock to the market,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

“Though the market is not expecting that there will be an immediate military action, it has triggered a profit-taking opportunity since the Nikkei had risen sharply recently.”

Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI shed 0.8 percent and Shanghai .SSEC was down 0.5 percent after S&P Global Ratings downgraded China's long-term sovereign credit rating on Thursday, less than a month ahead of one of the country's most sensitive political gatherings, citing increasing risks from its rapid debt build-up.

The dollar dropped 0.6 percent to 111.785 yen JPY=, pulling away from a two-month high of 112.725 touched on Thursday when U.S. yields spiked on the back of the Fed's hawkish stance.

The 10-year Treasury yield US10YT=RR declined about 3 basis points to 2.251 percent as risk aversion favoured government bonds. It had risen for nine consecutive sessions prior, brushing a six-week high of 2.289 percent.

The Swiss franc rose 0.2 percent to 0.9687 franc per dollar CHF=. The yen and franc are often sought in time of broader risk aversion.

Safe-haven gold ticked up, with spot prices up 0.5 percent at $1,297.11 an ounce XAU=, after marking its lowest since Aug. 25 at $1,287.61 in the previous session on a firmer dollar.

Apart from geopolitical risks, the focus was on how the region’s markets would fare when the Federal Reserve takes a step towards normalising monetary policy, as it projected on Wednesday following its policy meeting.

“It is difficult to pass a verdict on the Fed’s stance until it actually starts its balance sheet reduction and the markets can gauge its effects,” said Kota Hirayama, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

“Fundamentals continue to support emerging markets including those in Asia, although the Fed’s latest stance did add a layer of uncertainty going forward.”

In currencies, the Australian dollar was down 0.1 percent at $0.7926 AUD=D4 after sliding 1.2 percent the previous day when Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank does not have to follow a general move globally to raise interest rates.

A sharp drop in the price of iron ore, Australia’s main export commodity, to a two-month low, has also weighed on the currency.

The New Zealand dollar NZD=D4 was down 0.3 percent at $0.7284 on jitters ahead of a hotly-contested general election on Saturday.

The euro inched up 0.1 percent to $1.1954 EUR= and on track to end the week 0.8 percent lower.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.2 percent at 92.052.

Crude oil prices were little changed amid a wait-and-see mood as ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers meet later on Friday to discuss a possible extension of supply cuts.

Brent crude LCOc1 was down 0.1 percent at $56.39 a barrel after reaching a five-month high of $56.53 overnight.]]>
9/22/2017 10:54:55 AM
<![CDATA[Apple's iPhone 8 sees muted launch in Asia]]>
Hundreds of people usually gather at Apple’s Sydney city store with queues winding down the town’s main street, George Street, when there is a new product release. But there were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened on Friday, according to a Reuters witness.

While the number of people queuing up outside Apple stores have dropped over the years with many opting for online purchases, the weak turnout for the latest iPhone has partly been due to poor reviews.

Mazen Kourouche, who was first in queue after lining up 11 days outside the store so he could buy and review the product on YouTube, said there were modest refinements.

“(It) is pretty similar to the iPhone 7 but it shoots 4k 60 frames per second and it’s got a new glass back instead of the metal which is apparently more durable,” he told Reuters. “There aren’t too many new features to this one.”

In China, a loyal Apple customer said the improved camera was one of the reasons she purchased the new device.

“I waited until midnight to watch the launch event with my boyfriend to learn what’s new with this iPhone. Its photograph function is pretty good. So I think I must change with no hesitation,” said 29-year-old consumer Ta Na in Shanghai.

Mentions of iPhone 8 and iPhone X on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, an indicator of consumer interest, were less than levels seen before the previous two launches.

Poor reviews of the iPhone 8, which comes 10 years after Apple released the first version of the revolutionary phone, drove down shares of the company to near two-month lows of $152.75 on Thursday, as investors worried pre-orders for the device had come in well below previous launches.

The iPhone 8 will only cater to those who want a new version but do not want to pay a hefty $999 for the iPhone X, said iTWire.com’s technology editor Alex Zaharov-Reutt, who did not line up for the launch.

The iPhone X is a glass and stainless steel device with an edge-to-edge display that Chief Executive Tim Cook has called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

“I think it’ll be more lively with more people with the iPhone X,” said Ray Yokoyama, after buying an iPhone 8 in Tokyo.]]>
9/22/2017 10:51:54 AM
<![CDATA[Boeing boosts Southeast Asia order forecast on strong demand]]>
Boeing sees demand for 4,210 new airplanes worth $650 billion in Southeast Asia over the next two decades, based on an estimate of annual traffic growth of 6.2 percent. That is up from last year’s forecast of 3,750 aircraft valued at $550 billion.

“Look at countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia - that infrastructure has to grow and will grow,” said Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s vice president for Asia-Pacific and India sales. “Aviation is the biggest source of tourism for the countries, it is the biggest source of moving people and moving cargo.”

Southeast Asia, home to rapidly growing low-cost carriers like Indonesia’s Lion Air, Vietnam’s Vietjet and Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd (AIRA.KL), is taking on greater importance for Boeing and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) as North American and European markets are more mature with far lower growth rates.

Keskar said single-aisle airplanes like the 737 MAX and Airbus SE A320 were set to account for more than 70 percent of new deliveries as most travel in the region is expected to be short-haul.

China is also trying to compete in this market. The C919 narrowbody, which took its first test flight in May, has received 730 orders to date.

“Certainly we watch that, we watch our competition,” Keskar said of the C919. “We try to bring products which are superior with lower seat mile cost, better fuel burn and a better passenger experience.”

The Boeing forecast does not include any deliveries to Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos, which have less developed aviation sectors than neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

Airbus has not released a specific order forecast for Southeast Asia but a spokesman said the European manufacturer expected annual passenger growth of 7 percent a year over the next 20 years.

Boeing sees worldwide demand at 41,030 new airplanes over the next two decades. While it sees demand jumping the most in Southeast Asia, it has not yet given breakdowns for each global region.]]>
9/22/2017 10:49:21 AM
<![CDATA[Oil prices narrowly higher as producers meet on output pact]]>
Brent crude futures were at $56.51 a barrel at 0725 GMT, up 6 cents, or 0.11 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $50.65 per barrel.

Some ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and from other producers are set to meet in Vienna at 0900 GMT on Friday to discuss a possible extension of an oil supply cut deal that is aimed at supporting oil prices.

An OPEC source told Reuters the meeting had been postponed from 0800 GMT.

The ministers from OPEC nations and others led by Russia will discuss a possible extension to an agreement under which producers are cutting output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd). They are also expected to discuss the idea of monitoring exports to assess compliance.

Goldman Sachs said that talks over extending cuts are “noteworthy but premature”, adding “we believe it is unlikely that the committee will recommend extension of cuts this week.”

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, predicted there will be “strong rhetoric but whether or not they will be able to boost oil prices from current high levels is another question”.

There will be some focus on whether Nigeria and Libya, who have been exempt from the output cuts, will join any future efforts. The two OPEC members have both been invited to Friday’s meeting.

“The market is still split as to whether the meeting will bring fresh supply cuts to the table,” ANZ bank said in a note.

“With U.S. stockpiles remaining elevated, a firm signal about lower supply is likely needed for price momentum to remain positive.”

Despite the output restraint of OPEC and some non-OPEC producers, and their agreement to extend their cuts to March 2018, increasing U.S. oil production has curbed crude price gains.

Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have also pushed up crude inventories as some U.S. refineries have been shut by flooding.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude production rose to 9.51 million bpd in the week ended Sept.15 from 8.78 million bpd a week earlier. ]]>
9/22/2017 10:46:58 AM
<![CDATA[China's small banks face funding crunch as regulations, liquidity tighten]]>
With few options for funding, some banks have returned to issuing negotiable certificates of deposit (NCDs), a form of non-collateralised short-term funding that regulators have tried to discourage in their battle against speculative financing.

The premium paid by lower-rated Chinese banks over higher-rated ones for NCDs spiked last week, highlighting risks to the country’s smaller lenders. The spread between three-month AAA- and AA-rated NCDs hit 51 basis points, the highest on record.

While the spread has narrowed, analysts say it points to a trend of higher financing costs for weaker lenders.

“What you see there is a reflection of the fact that (small banks) are forced to seek more expensive liquidity,” said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, Asia Pacific chief economist at Natixis. “No matter how much they chase for new markets, they will always be penalized.”

A trader at an asset-management firm in Shanghai said tight liquidity reflects ongoing central bank efforts to reduce leverage combined with looming quarter-end tax bills.

Adding to the pressure is the week-long National Day holiday starting on Oct. 1, and NCDs worth 2.3 trillion yuan that have been maturing this month following a surge in issuance in June.

NCDs are priced with reference to the Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (SHIBOR). The three-month SHIBOR SHICNY3MD= was at 4.3611 percent on Friday, up 107 basis points since the beginning of the year.

As liquidity tightens, market demand for lower-rated NCDs has also been affected by new rules from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), announced in early September, that limit the exposure of money-market funds to lower-rated assets. The rules take effect Oct. 1.

UNDER THE GUN

NCDs have been in the regulatory spotlight this year as the authorities try to shut funding loopholes, most recently banning those with maturities longer than one year. Some analysts said the move marked the beginning of a new tightening cycle.

The People’s Bank of China has not yet exempted banks with less than 500 billion yuan ($75.8 billion) in assets from including NCDs in quarterly assessments.

“For the smaller (banks), this should be treated as a signal that their positions will also be included at a later stage,” said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered.

But with fewer options than their higher-rated counterparts, smaller banks may not yet be responding. The value of outstanding NCDs rose by 843.2 billion yuan from June through August, Shanghai Clearing House data showed.

Interbank borrowing by small and regional banks has risen to almost 16 percent of their total funding sources from 12 percent in 2015, BNP Paribas senior economist Chi Lo said in a research note, compared with about 2 percent for large commercial and state-owned banks.

Banks that have tried to diversify out of NCDs by turning to money-market funding may find their moves stymied by the new CSRC rules.

Garcia-Herrero says the rising pressure may indicate a larger end-game for China’s regulators: banking sector consolidation.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that you see banks being absorbed by others,” she said.

($1 = 6.5935 Chinese yuan)]]>
9/22/2017 10:43:08 AM
<![CDATA[North Korea nerves knock dollar against yen]]>
North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would destroy the country if it threatened the United States or its allies.

Adding to investors’ risk-aversion was S&P Global Ratings’ downgrade to China’s sovereign credit rating. On Friday, the ratings agency said the country’s attempts to reduce risks from its rapid buildup in debt are not working as quickly as expected and credit growth is still too fast.

The dollar dropped as much as 0.8 percent to 111.65 yen JPY=, before recovering to trade down around half a percent on the day at 111.96 yen in early London trade.

The yen tends to benefit during times of crisis due to Japan’s net creditor nation status, and the expectation that Japanese investors would repatriate assets.

“Many are questioning whether that can remain the case in the presence of a risk event that is local to Japan,” wrote RBC Capital Markets analysts in a note to clients.

“We find near-perfect symmetry in the way the yen responds to Asia-specific shocks and shocks from elsewhere, suggesting it can (remain a safe haven),” they added.

For the week, the dollar was still up more than 1 percent against the yen, having scaled a two-month peak of 112.725 after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled that it was still on track to raise interest rates by the end of the year, and after the Bank of Japan maintained its bond-buying pledge.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against a basket of six major rivals, fell 0.3 percent to 92.024 .DXY, but it was still slightly higher on the week and was well above its more than 2-1/2 year trough of 91.011 marked on Sept. 8.

It surged to its strongest in 15 days on Wednesday, but has since slipped around 1 percent.

“If traders were hoping for a strong U.S. dollar rebound in the wake of this week’s Fed meeting, the initial response was certainly encouraging (but) beyond that the response has been underwhelming,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

“Even if the Federal Reserve were able to deliver on a December rate rise, there is so much uncertainty about what the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) will look like in six months’ time...that any projections for three further rate rises in 2018 have to be treated with a huge amount of caution.”

The euro climbed half a percent to $1.1992 EUR= and was also up 0.1 percent for the week, with traders not seeing Sunday's German elections as a risk. Chancellor Angela Merkel is widely expected to win a fourth term in power.]]>
9/22/2017 10:35:04 AM
<![CDATA[Business news wrap-up]]>IKEA considers injecting investment in Cairo, Alexandria
Swedish giant furniture store IKEA is considering injecting new investment in Cairo and Alexandria, as part of their expansion plan, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said Thursday.

Suez Canal revenues hike to $470M in August


Suez Canal Authority’s revenues in August recorded $470.6 million (LE 8.3 billion), marking 5.1 percent year-on-year increase compared to August 2016 yields, chairman of the authority Mohab Mamesh said Thursday.

WB head praises Egypt’s reform measures in meeting with Sisi


President of the World Bank (WB), Jim Yong Kim, praised Egypt’s reform measures in terms of addressing the economy’s structural problems and improving the business environment.

This came during his meeting with President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi Thursday in New York, according to a statement from the presidency.

Egypt spends over LE 122B on fuel subsidies, well above estimates

The actual value spent on petroleum subsidies in fiscal year 2016/17 amounted to LE 122.4 billion, Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla said in a Thursday statement.

He said that the government has purchased a worth of LE 204.3 billion ($11.6 billion) petroleum products to sell them in the domestic market for LE 81.9 billion at subsidized prices.

EGPC pays $6.2 billion in arrears to foreign oil firms


The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) paid $6.2 billion to foreign companies in arrears during the fiscal year (FY) 2016/2017, which in turn prompted companies to accelerate their activities in the oil and gas fields, EGPC Chairman Abed Ezz el-Regal said Thursday.

Singapore to invest $1B in Fayoum industrial complex


The Singapore Holding Company will invest $1 billion in its industrial complex project in Fayoum, which was announced earlier this week, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said Thursday.

Egypt inks initial agreement with DP World for SCZone project


Chairman of the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) Mohab Mamesh signed an initial agreement with Chairman of DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Thursday to establish an economic zone in the Red Sea resort of Ain Sokhna.

Egypt's non-petroleum imports down $9B in 7 months


Egypt’s non-petroleum imports shaved off 23 percent in the first seven months of 2017 to stand at $30.3 billion against $39.4 billion in the corresponding period last year, the General Organization for Import and Export Control (GOEIC) said.

Specialized industrial complexes to include non-official sector


Secretary of the fund of the Egyptian Export Council of Medical Industries Emad Louis said that the council will establish specialized industrial complexes to include the non-official sector working in the field of cosmetic and medical equipment in the official sector.

EU moves to extend grip on financial sector after Brexit

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed transferring some powers to oversee the financial sector from national capitals in a move to extend the EU’s grip on the industry as the bloc prepares for the departure of London, its main financial hub.
]]>
9/21/2017 7:30:51 PM
<![CDATA[S&P downgrades China, says rising debt is stoking economic, financial risks]]>
S&P’s one-notch downgrade to A+ from AA- comes as Beijing grapples with the challenges of containing financial risks stemming from years of credit-fueled stimulus to meet ambitious government economic growth targets.

“The downgrade reflects our assessment that a prolonged period of strong credit growth has increased China’s economic and financial risks,” S&P said in a statement, adding that the ratings outlook was stable.

S&P had said in June there was a “real” chance of a downgrade and a decision would be made based on whether China is able to move away from a credit-driven growth strategy. The demotion follows a similar move by Moody’s Investors Service in May.

While S&P’s move put its China ratings on par with those of Moody’s and Fitch, the timing raised eyebrows just weeks ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress (CPC), which will see a key leadership reshuffle and the setting of policy priorities for the next five years.

“The downgrade is a timely reminder for the authorities that China needs to bite the bullet on some of the more painful reforms that have been left to last, namely corporate deleveraging and restructuring of state-owned companies,” said Rob Subbaraman, an economist at Nomura in Singapore.

“The focus needs to shift from quantity to quality of growth. I hope that later this year China lowers its GDP growth target to 6 percent to 6.5 percent, or not have one at all. That would be a positive sign.”

The International Monetary Fund warned this year that China’s credit growth was on a “dangerous trajectory” and called for “decisive action”, while the Bank for International Settlements said last September that excessive credit growth was signaling a banking crisis in the next three years.The IMF said in August it expected China’s total non-financial sector debt to rise to almost 300 percent by 2022, up from 242 percent last year.

While worries about China’s sustained strong credit growth are increasing in some quarters, first-half economic growth of 6.9 percent beat expectations and some analysts said the downgrade would have little impact on financial markets.

“The decision was a catch-up with the other two credit agencies, instead of an initiative. Its impact on financial markets would very limited,” said Ken Cheung, senior Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank in Hong Kong.

“For those invested in yuan-denominated bonds, they care more about yuan expectations. The downgrade decision is likely to have limited impact on capital inflows as well.”

China’s stock markets had closed Thursday before the downgrade, and there was little reaction in the yuan currency.

While risks are rising, S&P said the government’s recent efforts to reduce corporate leverage could stabilize conditions in the medium term.

“However, we foresee that credit growth in the next two to three years will remain at levels that will increase financial risks gradually,” S&P said.

S&P also lowered China’s short-term rating to A-1 from A-1+.

“It is in recognition of the reality that, concerns notwithstanding, the authorities are not planning to rein in credit growth in a forceful way,” said Louis Kuijs at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.

Indeed, Chinese banks kept the taps open in August, handing out 1.09 trillion yuan ($165.40 billion), and the growth of outstanding loans was higher than expected, at 13.2 percent.

MIXED PROGRESS

Analysts say China’s campaign to cut financial risks this year has had mixed success, and opinions differ widely on whether Beijing is moving fast enough, or decisively enough, to avert the risk of a debt crisis down the road.

Regulators are making significant inroads in reducing interbank borrowing – perhaps the most pressing risk - and have curbed some riskier types of shadow banking.

But analysts agree more comprehensive structural reforms are needed. Though the pace of credit growth may be easing, new bank lending and total social financing may hit fresh records this year and continue to outstrip economic growth.

A recent Reuters analysis showed corporate debt is growing faster than last year, with few companies using stronger profits to reduce debt.

“China’s credit problem is the biggest problem we have ever seen in any country and probably justifies a lower rating,” said Claire Dissaux, head of global economics and strategy at Millennium Global Investments in London.

“One element that models cannot capture is the strength of institutions, such as transparency of regulation of the banking sector and central bank independence. All that is an argument to say China’s rating might still be too good.”]]>
9/21/2017 7:26:26 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. yield curve flattens, world stocks dip; focus on possible December hike]]>
The Fed, as expected, also laid out plans to begin the unwinding of a decade of aggressive monetary stimulus, but took a more hawkish than expected stance at this week’s meeting.

“The meeting was definitely more hawkish than what the market was anticipating,” said Mary Ann Hurley, vice president in fixed income trading at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.

“We were definitely not pricing in another rate hike for this year,” Hurley said.

MSCI’s broad index of global stock markets .MIWD00000PUS was down 0.3 percent at 486.72.

The U.S. dollar earlier rose to a two-month high against the yen, while an index that measures the dollar’s strength against a basket of currencies dipped.

A Reuters poll late Wednesday of primary dealers, the banks authorized to transact directly with the Fed, showed that the Fed will resume rate hikes in December and raise borrowing costs three more times in 2018.

In Asia, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary spigots open at full.

The Treasury yield curve between five-year notes and 30-year bonds US5US30=TWEB flattened to 92 basis points on Thursday, the lowest level since July 6. Intermediate-dated debt is more sensitive than longer-dated bonds to interest rate increases.

U.S. stocks pulled back from their all-time highs, though bank stocks cheered the prospect of higher interest rates which should help their profits. The S&P bank index .SPXBK was up 0.4 percent, adding to Wednesday’s gains.The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 17.83 points, or 0.08 percent, to 22,394.76, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.67 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,504.57 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 23.08 points, or 0.36 percent, to 6,432.96.

Emerging markets shares were lower, with an index of emerging markets .MSCIEF down 0.3 percent.

S&P Global became the second major rating agency this year to cut China’s credit score, citing worries about the country’s rising debt levels and the risks that posed for financial stability in the world’s second largest economy.

China’s markets were already closed by the time it came but it kept the pressure on emerging markets stocks.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.69 percent lower.

Since the start of 2014, Reuters analysis shows that the big three rating agencies - S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch - have racked up more than 155 emerging market downgrades between them, which averages out a roughly one a week.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.11 percent versus the greenback at 112.34 per dollar. The dollar index .DXY fell 0.29 percent.

Gold fell to its lowest in almost four weeks as investors continued to assess the Fed statement. Spot gold XAU= dropped 0.7 percent to $1,291.91 an ounce.

Oil prices were down slightly before a meeting of oil producers that could extend production limits.

U.S. crude CLcv1 fell 0.22 percent to $50.58 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $55.91, down 0.04 percent on the day.]]>
9/21/2017 7:17:59 PM
<![CDATA[Hack of U.S. securities regulator rattles investors, stirs doubts]]>
The incursion at the Securities and Exchange Commission struck at the heart of the U.S. financial system. The SEC’s EDGAR filing system is the central repository for market-moving information on corporate America with millions of filings ranging from quarterly earnings to statements on acquisitions.

Accessing documents before they are released publicly would offer hackers a lucrative opportunity to trade on that information.

The SEC said late on Wednesday that a hack occurred in 2016 but it had only discovered last month that the cyber criminals may have used the information to make illicit trades. [nL2N1M2050]

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton gave members of Congress a “courtesy call” about the hack late on Wednesday afternoon, said Rep. Bill Huizenga, chairman of the House subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, which oversees the SEC.

”I’m glad that Jay Clayton has decided to acknowledge this and release it, warts and all,” Huizenga said.

”It’s hugely problematic and we’ve got to be serious about how we protect that information as a regulator. I’m hoping that this leads to some vast improvements and an uptick in the vigilance that all the regulators are going to have with information that’s coming to them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had detected five “critical” cyber security weaknesses on the SEC’s computers as of Jan. 23, 2017, according to a confidential weekly report reviewed by Reuters. [nL2N1M2147]

The SEC disclosure has rattled investors’ faith in the security of their data. It comes two weeks after credit-reporting company Equifax said hackers had stolen data on more than 143 million U.S. customers, and in the wake of last year’s cyber attack on SWIFT, the global bank messaging system.

It is particularly embarrassing for the SEC and its new boss Clayton, who has made tackling cyber crime one of the top enforcement issues during his tenure.

“The Chairman obviously recognizes the irony of the SEC potentially serving as the unwitting tipper in an insider trading scheme,” said John Reed Stark, a former SEC staff member and cyber expert.

The SEC has said it was investigating the source of the hack but it did not say when exactly it happened or what sort of non-public data was retrieved. The agency said the attackers had exploited a weakness in part of the EDGAR system and it had “promptly” fixed it.

CYBER SLEUTHS NEEDED

Clayton will be grilled on the incident and its aftermath at a hearing by the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. In particular, questions are likely about how prepared the SEC was against such an attack and why it waited until now to disclose it.

Securities industry rules require companies to disclose cyber breaches to investors and the SEC has investigated firms over whether they should have reported incidents sooner.

In July, months after the breach was detected, a congressional watchdog office warned that the Wall Street regulator was “at unnecessary risk of compromise” because of deficiencies in its information systems.

The 27-page report by the Government Accountability Office found the SEC did not always fully encrypt sensitive information, used unsupported software, failed to fully implement an intrusion detection system and made missteps in how it configured its firewalls, among other things. [nL1N1KI2GQ]

It also shut down a specialized unit on cyber crimes as part of a reorganization in 2010 despite former SEC chair Mary Jo White, in office when the hack occurred, telling Reuters in 2016 that cyber security posed the biggest risk to the U.S. financial system.

“Cyber crimes have continued to spread, thrive and become more innovative. Now, more than ever, the SEC needs a dedicated and specialized corps of cyber sleuths to track down and deter hackers,” said Stark, currently president of a cyber consulting firm.

The SEC has scored some victories in tackling cyber criminals. In 2015, the commission unmasked a ring of stock traders and hackers who had accessed company press releases from distributors Marketwire, PR Newswire and Business Wire before the information was made public to make $100 million in illegal profits]]>
9/21/2017 6:27:55 PM
<![CDATA[WB head praises Egypt’s reform measures in meeting with Sisi ]]>
This came during his meeting with President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi Thursday in New York, according to a statement from the presidency.

Kim said that the bank will continue to execute and develop cooperation programs with Egypt, adding that the WB and its affiliates are supporting Egypt in its path for development.

Sisi said that Egypt considers the WB as an important development partner and he praised the bank’s efforts in supporting Egypt through executing development projects, providing technical support and enhancing the role of the private sector.

The statement said that the meeting reviewed the positive implications of Egypt’s economic reform program including the increase in international reserves, exports and foreign investments.

Sisi said that these positive results have prompted Egypt to press ahead with the program to achieve sustainable development, while expanding the social safety net and implementing more legislative and administrative reforms to improve the business climate.

The meeting came during Sisi’s visit to New York to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
]]>
9/21/2017 4:41:59 PM
<![CDATA[Nasr participates in UN session on sustainable development]]>
The session discussed means to achieve sustainable development and encourage social impact investments in developing countries.

It was attended by Bangladeshi prime minister, Canadian international development minister, the director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), former Australian prime minister, and a representative from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

During the session, Nasr said that the Egyptian government is taking forward steps to create a favorable climate for private enterprises and foreign investors to drive investments into national projects across Egypt.]]>
9/21/2017 4:32:41 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt inks initial agreement with DP World for SCZone project]]>
The final agreement will be signed after finishing all business procedures, Mamesh said in a statement.

Mamesh announced that he is visiting Dubai this week to discuss with DP World the new project in Ain Sokhna Port, which will act as an extension to Jebel Ali, and set a general framework for the agreement.

Mamesh will then present the project to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail for approval, followed by the presidency for ratification.

On August 9, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved the establishment of a joint development company between the SCZone and the Dubai World Ports group known as DP World.

According to the deal, DP World will carry out the project in the Suez Canal area, while the Egyptian government will offer the facilitation necessary for the project's establishment.

Spreading over 95 kilometer square, the project will include an industrial complex, a residential area as well as developing Ain Sokhna port.

The targeted industries in this project include building materials, logistics, communications, textile, food, electronic, car spare parts, petrochemicals and medical industries.
]]>
9/21/2017 4:02:41 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. jobless claims fall; hurricanes still affecting data]]>
Other data on Thursday showed manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated in September amid a surge in new orders. But hiring by factories slowed and employees worked fewer hours this month compared to August.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 for the week ended Sept. 16, the Labor Department said. A Labor Department official said Harvey and Irma affected claims for Texas and Florida.

Unadjusted claims for Texas fell 23,549 last week, the second straight weekly drop. Claims in Texas surged in the wake of Harvey, which disrupted oil, natural gas and petrochemicals production, leaving some workers temporarily unemployed.

Unadjusted claims for Florida rose 5,133 last week. In addition, the Labor Department estimated claims for South Carolina and the Virgin Islands last week.

Economists had forecast claims rising to 300,000 in the latest week. It was the 133rd straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a robust labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 6,000 to 268,750 last week.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries pared gains after the data and the dollar was weaker against a basket of currencies. U.S. stock index futures were trading lower.

The claims data covered the survey period for the non-farm payrolls portion of September's employment report. There are fears the disruption caused by Harvey and Irma could restrain job growth in September. Texas and Florida account for about 14 percent of U.S. employment.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told reporters on Wednesday that "payroll employment may be substantially affected in September" by the storms, but she added that she expected labor market conditions would strengthen somewhat further out.

Yellen made the comments after the U.S. central bank left interest rates unchanged but signaled it still anticipated one more rate increase by the end of the year.

The four-week moving average of claims rose 28,250 between the August and September survey periods, suggesting a further slowdown in job growth. The economy added 156,000 jobs in August, with the private services sector hiring the smallest number of workers in five months.

In a separate report on Thursday, the Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing activity index for the mid-Atlantic region increased about 5 points to a reading of 23.8 in September. It said almost 39 percent of the firms indicated increases in activity this month while 15 percent reported a decrease.

Firms reported a jump in new orders. The survey's employment index fell to a reading of 6.6, but has remained positive for 10 consecutive months. A measure of the average workweek dropped to a reading of 11.9 from 18.8 in August.]]>
9/21/2017 3:39:15 PM
<![CDATA[Oracle awarded bid to automate industrial licenses]]>
The sources, whom requested to remain anonymous, told Egypt Today that the tender was issued after ratifying the Industrial Permits Act in May, adding that OSC will start working on the project in October, which will be completed over three stages.

The stages are divided into automating procedures of granting licenses of land plots, building licenses and the industrial record, the sources explained.

On May 9, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi approved the 15/2017 Industrial Permits Act that aims at easing measures for obtaining licenses for industrial establishments.

The act entails granting investors the needed approvals in no more than one month, instead of a period of almost two years under the old law 83/2002.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has issued the act’s executive regulations on August 13.

Minister of Industry, Tarek Kabil, said in previous statements that 80 percent of the projects will be granted licenses upon notifications, while 20 percent will have to wait for the approval of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) due to being categorized as “risky” industries.
]]>
9/21/2017 3:21:16 PM
<![CDATA[SEC says hackers may have traded using stolen insider information]]>
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the hack occurred in 2016 but that it had only discovered last month that the cyber criminals may have used the information to make illicit trades.

The hackers exploited a software glitch in the test filing component of the system to gain access to non-public information, the agency said.

The SEC hosts large volumes of sensitive and confidential information that could be used for insider-trading or manipulating U.S. equity markets. Its EDGAR database houses millions of filings on corporate disclosures ranging from quarterly earnings to statements on mergers and acquisitions.

Although the SEC “promptly” patched the vulnerability after detecting it in 2016, the regulator only became aware last month that the glitch “may have provided the basis for illicit gain through trading”, it said.

“It is believed the intrusion did not result in unauthorized access to personally identifiable information, jeopardize the operations of the Commission, or result in systemic risk,” the SEC said, adding that it was also liaising with the relevant authorities without naming them.

The incident comes just weeks after Equifax Inc (EFX.N), a major U.S. consumer credit reporting agency, disclosed that hackers had stolen data on more than 143 million customers and underscores the threat cyber criminals pose to the integrity of the financial markets.

It also raises questions about whether there were weak spots within the SEC, an institution tasked with protecting investors and financial markets, that allowed the hackers in.

In July, months after the breach was detected, a congressional watchdog office warned that the Wall Street regulator was “at unnecessary risk of compromise” because of deficiencies in its information systems.

The 27-page report by the Government Accountability Office found the SEC did not always fully encrypt sensitive information, used unsupported software, failed to fully implement an intrusion detection system and made missteps in how it configured its firewalls, among other things.

Cyber criminals have targeted financial information hubs before -- the Hong Kong stock exchange and the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York were targeted by hackers in 2011.

But the breach at the SEC is particularly egregious because its new boss, Jay Clayton, has made tackling cyber crime one of the top enforcement issues during his tenure.

It also puts the agency under a spotlight over why the 2016 breach was not disclosed earlier. Securities industry rules require companies to disclose cyber breaches to investors and the SEC has investigated firms over whether they should have reported incidents sooner.

The SEC has scored some victories in tackling cyber criminals in recent years. Two years ago it charged a group of mainly U.S.-based stock traders and computer hackers in Ukraine with the theft of thousands of corporate press statements ahead of their public release, resulting in more than $100 million in illegal profit.]]>
9/21/2017 3:00:23 PM
<![CDATA[Oil prices slip ahead of key OPEC meeting]]>
Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers meet in Vienna on Friday and are due to consider extending output cuts that began in January.

OPEC and its allies have agreed to reduce output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until March 2018 in an attempt to empty inventories. Many analysts now expect them to extend the deal, possibly to the end of next year.

“The bull run in the oil market is running out of steam as unease builds ahead of tomorrow’s OPEC/non-OPEC meeting,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

“The (oil futures) contracts have performed well in recent sessions but are struggling for traction,” Brennock added.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 was down 40 cents at $55.89 a barrel by 1115 GMT. U.S. light crude was 50 cents lower at $50.19.

Both contracts have risen more than 15 percent over the last three months as global oil supply has tightened.

OPEC’s efforts have been hampered by higher production in some other parts of the world, including the United States, where shale oil production is reaching record highs.

Recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have also pushed up crude oil inventories in some parts of the United States as U.S. refineries have been shut by flooding.

U.S. commercial crude oil stocks C-STK-T-EIA rose for a third straight week, building by 4.6 million barrels in the week ending Sept. 15 to 472.83 million barrels. [EIA/S]

U.S. oil production has reached 9.51 million bpd, up from 8.78 million bpd directly after Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf Coast. C-OUT-T-EIA

U.S. crude received some support from a strong draw in gasoline stocks by 2.1 million barrels to 216.19 million barrels, traders said. aUSEIAGS

The structure of oil futures prices suggests OPEC production cuts are beginning to have an impact, analysts say.

Front-month Brent futures have risen sharply in recent months, much more than forward prices. This has changed the Brent price curve <0#LCO:>, moving it into what traders call “backwardation”, when prices for immediate delivery are higher than prices for later barrels.

The shift is seen as an indicator of a tightening market as it encourages the immediate sale of oil rather than holding it in storage.]]>
9/21/2017 2:48:42 PM
<![CDATA[Singapore to invest $1B in Fayoum industrial complex]]>
“The total cost of the project will be determined after conducting the feasibility studies of the project,” Kabil said in a statement.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Kabil witnessed Tuesday the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and Singapore Holding Company to establish a comprehensive industrial city in Kom Oshim district in Fayoum governorate.

Established over 33 million square meters, the city comprises a mega technological valley as well as residential units.

Kabil said that a joint company will be established between the IDA and the Singaporean company to manage construction stages of the new project, adding that the IDA will provide all kinds of support, information and data related to the project.

The chairman of the board of directors of Singapore Holding Company said that the company will provide investment costs for the project through a number of foreign banking institutions.
]]>
9/21/2017 2:17:05 PM
<![CDATA[EGPC pays $6.2 billion in arrears to foreign oil firms ]]>
He added that EGPC paid a total amount of $19.3 billion and LE 38 billion (in local currency) to the companies, during the same period, to buy oil and repay loans.

Foreign oil firms have invested $5 billion in oil and gas exploration activities in FY 2016/2017, and this has contributed in achieving production targets and boosting oil and gas reserves, Ezz el-Regal said.

The actual value spent on petroleum subsidies in FY 2016/2017 amounted to LE 122.4 billion, Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla said in a Thursday statement.

Molla explained that the government has purchased petroleum products, worth LE 204.3 billion ($11.6 billion), to sell them in the domestic market for LE 81.9 billion at subsidized prices.

Egypt has consumed 78 million tons of petroleum products and natural gas in the previous fiscal year, while the petroleum sector has refined 25 million tons of crude oil and condensates in Egyptian refineries.
]]>
9/21/2017 1:40:59 PM
<![CDATA[IKEA considers injecting investment in Cairo, Alexandria]]>
The news came as Kabil met country manager of IKEA Group, Adosh Sharma, Thursday to discuss the company’s plans for the Egyptian market in the next period, according to a statement from the ministry.

Kabil said the announcement is attributed to improving economic indicators along with economic reform measures taken by the state to improve investment climate.

“The Egyptian market has huge investment opportunities in various industrial fields, especially in the products targeted by IKEA,” Sharma said.

IKEA has opened its doors in Egypt in late 2013 as Cairo Festival City opened in New Cairo district.
]]>
9/21/2017 12:55:55 PM
<![CDATA[Specialized industrial complexes to include non-official sector]]>
In statements to MENA on Thursday, Louis said that each industrial complex will be allocated for a specific industry.

The council will ink a cooperation protocol with international specialized companies to train and qualify the companies of the non-official sector and improve their efficiency, he said.

Most of the products of the non-official sector are off specifications and negatively affect the human health, he said, adding that they also threaten the reputation of the Egyptian products abroad.

The exports of the sector in January-August recorded dlrs 296 million with 12.6 percent down in comparison with the same period last year, added he.

He said that 66 percent of the Egyptian medical industries go to Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and the UAE.]]>
9/21/2017 12:54:00 PM
<![CDATA[Suez Canal revenues hike to $470M in August]]>
In an official statement, Mamesh attributed the rise to recovering global trade levels as more than 1,500 ships have sailed through the canal last month, carrying 91.5 million tons, representing 4 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

Egypt's Suez Canal revenues rose to $447.1 million in July from $427.2 million in June.

Suez Canal revenues in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017 recorded $2.105 billion, $62.2 million increase compared to the corresponding quarter.

On a larger level, Suez Canal revenues in the first half (1H) of 2017 registered $2.938 billion, up from $2.919 billion, Mamesh said. More than 9,900 ships crossed the canal during that period, compared to 9,745 ships in 1H 2016.

The canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the government's main sources of foreign currency. Egypt has been struggling to revive its economy since a 2011 uprising hit tourism and foreign investment.
]]>
9/21/2017 12:09:47 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's non-petroleum imports down $9B in 7 months]]>
In a report a copy of which MENA obtained, the GOEIC said Egypt's imports of ready-made clothes almost halved in the first seven months of 2017, standing at $221 million.

The country’s imports of leather products also slumped 43.8 percent this year, recording $80 million, compared to $143 million last year, read the report.

Egypt’s imports of food, electronics and furniture fell 30.4 percent, 30.2 percent and 28.8 percent, respectively, in the period from January to July this year, registering $3 billion, $7.9 billion and $802 million respectively, according to the figures disclosed by the report.

The GOEIC report further indicated that there is a 6.3 percent drop in pharmaceutical imports in the first seven months of 2017, putting them at $1.6 billion against $1.7 billion during the same period last year.]]>
9/21/2017 12:06:23 PM
<![CDATA[Banks support Saudi after Fed comments, Qatar cools]]>
The Riyadh index rose 0.2 percent after 20 minutes of trade as nine of the 12 listed banks rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but signaled it still expects one more increase by the end of the year.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. A rate hike is considered positive for banks because it lifts their interest rate margins.

For the banking sector as a whole the near term outlook looks slightly positive; analysts at Riyadh-based Alrajhi Capital said in a note on Wednesday that they expect net interest margins for the banking sector to improve in the third quarter and overall earnings to be “marginally higher”.

Qatar’s index was flat; it had risen 0.8 percent in the last two sessions. Banking shares were mixed with Qatar International Islamic Bank up 0.6 percent but Qatar National Bank down 0.2 percent.]]>
9/21/2017 11:32:19 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt spends over LE 122B on fuel subsidies, well above estimates]]>
Molla explained that the government has purchased a worth of LE 204.3 billion ($11.6 billion) petroleum products to sell them in the domestic market for LE 81.9 billion at subsidized prices.

Egypt has consumed 78 million tons of petroleum products and natural gas in the previous fiscal year, while the petroleum sector has refined 25 million tons of crude oil and condensates in Egyptian refineries.

Last fiscal year, the unexpected rise in Brent prices put the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum in a tight situation. It had to request additional allocations from the Ministry of Finance in order to meet its needs.

In FY 2016/17 budget, the fuel subsidies were LE 35 billion based on the calculations of $40 per barrel crude price. With that price swelling to above $50, the petroleum ministry exceeded its allocations, spending between LE 75-80 billion on the subsidies.

The deficit was further hit by the flotation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, doubling the U.S. dollar exchange rate from LE 8.88 per dollar to a current average rate of LE 18.

To overcome this challenge, the Egyptian government announced in late June a decision to raise fuel prices. The price was raised 50 to 100 percent and the price of 80-octane gasoline soared from LE 1.60 ($0.08) to LE 3.65 per liter. In addition, the price for 92-octane increased from LE 3.50 to LE 5.00 per liter.
]]>
9/21/2017 11:12:24 AM
<![CDATA[Dollar shines, Asia shares slip after Fed signals December rate hike]]>
European shares are expected to benefit from a fall in the euro against the dollar with spread betters looking at a higher opening of 0.5 percent in Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 gained 0.2 percent as a rise in U.S. bond yields lifted financial shares, while the yen's fall against the dollar after the Fed's decision helped exporters.

The Bank of Japan, as widely expected, left its policy settings unchanged, with markets awaiting a news conference by its governor later in the day.

MSCI’s broadest dollar-denominated index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.5 percent, with Australian shares among the hardest hit with fall of 0.8 percent.

Major U.S. share indexes recovered quickly from initial losses following the Fed's announcement, with the S&P 500 .SPX ending slightly higher, helped in part by gains in financials .SPSY and energy shares .SPNY

“While a rate hike is negative, the fact that the Fed’s confidence in the economy is strong enough to expect a rate hike can be taken as supportive of market sentiment,” said Soichiro Monji, chief strategist at Daiwa SB Investments.

The Fed’s view also prompted a rotation from tech shares into financial shares, which benefit from higher interest rates, he added.

“In a way, what the Fed did was not much of a surprise. From now, the markets will be focusing on individual earnings rather than macro themes,” said Hisashi Iwama, senior portfolio manager at Asset Management One.

As expected, the Fed said it would begin in October to trim its massive holding of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities acquired in the years after the 2008 financial crisis.

The Fed signalled it still expects one more interest rate hike by the end of the year, despite a recent bout of low inflation, but ratcheted down its long-term interest rate forecasts.

Fed fund rate futures FFF8 are now pricing in about a 65 percent chance of a rate hike by December compared to around 50 percent before the latest meeting. Markets expect the Fed move to coincide with revisions of its economic projections.

The yield on two-year U.S. Treasury notes jumped to 1.451 percent US2YT=RR, its highest level since November 2008 late on Wednesday. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR rose to 2.278 percent, briefly hitting a six-week high of 2.289 percent.

“The markets reacted to the Fed quite straightforwardly, with shorter yields rising more than long-dated bond yields. The bond markets have fairly strong conviction that low inflation and low growth will persist,” said Hiroko Iwaki, senior strategist at Mizuho Securities.

In the currency market, the rise in Treasury yields boosted the dollar's attractiveness. The euro EUR= dropped to $1.1883 from above $1.20 just before the Fed's policy announcement.

Likewise the dollar jumped to 112.595 yen JPY=, a two-month high, from around 111.30.

Gold XAU= also hit a three-week low of $1,296 per ounce.

Oil prices flirted with multi-month highs, despite a rise in U.S. crude inventories, after the Iraqi oil minister said OPEC and its partners were considering extending or deepening output cuts, ahead of the planned meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC nations on Friday.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose to a five-month high of $56.48 a barrel on Wednesday and last stood at $56.17, down slightly from late U.S. levels.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 hit a four-month high of $50.79 per barrel and last traded at $50.64, down slightly from the U.S. close on Wednesday.]]>
9/21/2017 11:10:11 AM
<![CDATA[EU moves to extend grip on financial sector after Brexit]]>
The proposal is part of a broader long-term plan that could lead to common supervision of the European financial sector and widely expand European Union regulators’ clout over foreign firms that operate in the EU.

“What we are proposing is a gradual approach,” the commission’s vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

He said the move was ambitious but realistic. “Eventually we could arrive at a single European capital markets supervisor,” he told a news conference in Brussels. The commission’s proposals need the backing of EU states and lawmakers.

EU states have been traditionally reluctant to give away supervisory powers, but the decade-long financial crisis has allowed major changes, with the European Central Bank taking oversight of the euro zone’s largest banks.

The strengthening of EU supervision on capital markets was made more urgent by Britain’s vote to leave the EU, which will deprive the EU of its main financial centre in London.

“Finance in Europe is changing due to the departure of the UK from the EU,” Dombrovskis said, adding this had increased the need for a convergence of supervisory practices to avoid so-called “regulatory arbitrage”, whereby EU countries try to attract firms from Britain with legal sweeteners.

MARKET ACCESS

The commission also proposed to further strengthen EU powers over foreign financial firms allowed to operate in the EU when their countries’ legal systems are deemed equivalent to the bloc’s rules.

The move is expected to have an impact on Britain-based financial firms after Brexit, as they may be subject to a stricter oversight and higher possible risks of abruptly losing access to the EU market.

Among the European industries that, under the proposal, would immediately be subject to direct EU supervision are critical financial benchmarks such as the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor), used to price billions of euros worth of derivatives and, in some countries, to determine the interest rates on mortgages.

Insurers will also be more strictly supervised by EU regulators in devising their internal models to calculate risks.

Regulated funds that are allowed to be sold across the EU, including venture capital funds and long-term investment funds, will also fall directly under the oversight of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which will be beefed up to deal with expanded tasks.

The commission shied away from proposing the merger of the other two EU financial regulators, the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the Frankfurt-based European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).

It had earlier suggested the merger, as the EBA will leave London after Brexit, but opposition from EU states, who are wrangling to host the relocating agency, forced the EU executive to drop the proposal.

The ESMA will also be granted powers to directly monitor transaction data in markets.

AFME, a lobbying group for the European financial industry, broadly welcomed the plans to increase supervisory convergence but was cautious on data oversight.

“The idea of ESMA receiving transaction data directly from market participants is to be supported to the extent it does not lead to additional reporting burden or duplication,” Simon Lewis, AFME Chief Executive, said.]]>
9/21/2017 11:07:43 AM
<![CDATA[Oil dips on rising U.S. crude inventories, production]]>
Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers meet in Vienna on Friday and are due to consider extending output cuts that began in January.

OPEC and its allies have agreed to reduce output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until March 2018 in an attempt to empty inventories. Many analysts now expect them to extend the deal, possibly to the end of next year.

“An extension of the agreement or an increase in the cuts may be announced,” said Jeffrey Halley of futures brokerage OANDA.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 was down 5 cents at $56.24 a barrel by 0820 GMT. U.S. light crude was 15 cents lower at $50.54.

Both contracts have risen more than 15 percent over the last three months as global oil supply has tightened.

OPEC’s efforts have been hampered by higher production in some other parts of the world, including the United States, where shale oil production is reaching record highs.

Recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have also pushed up crude inventories in some parts of the United States as U.S. refineries have been shut by flooding.

U.S. commercial crude oil stocks C-STK-T-EIA rose for a third straight week, building by 4.6 million barrels in the week ending Sept. 15 to 472.83 million barrels. [EIA/S]

U.S. oil production has reached 9.51 million bpd, up from 8.78 million bpd directly after Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf Coast. C-OUT-T-EIA

U.S. crude received some support from a strong draw in gasoline stocks by 2.1 million barrels to 216.19 million barrels, traders said. aUSEIAGS

The structure of oil futures prices suggests OPEC production cuts are beginning to have an impact, analysts say.

Front-month Brent futures have risen sharply in recent months, much more than forward prices. This has changed the Brent price curve <0#LCO:>, moving it into what traders call “backwardation”, when prices for immediate delivery are higher than prices for later barrels.

The shift is seen as an indicator of a tightening market as it encourages the immediate sale of oil rather than holding it in storage.]]>
9/21/2017 11:05:16 AM
<![CDATA[BYD predicts ambitious China shift to electric cars by 2030]]>
All vehicles in the country will be “electrified” by 2030, which could range from full electric cars to mild hybrids, BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu said on Thursday. BYD, backed by Warren Buffett, has already invested heavily in the NEV market.

Carmakers around the world are grappling with government plans to shift away from petrol engine cars to newer, less polluting technologies - a trend that is creating one of the most seismic shifts the automotive industry has gone through.

Earlier this month, a senior Chinese official said the country had begun studying when to ban the production and sale of cars using traditional fuels, without giving a timeframe for the shift. The United Kingdom and France have said they will ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2040.

“We are very confident about all the timetables (to eliminate fossil fuel cars) and we think it will happen earlier than expected,” Wang said at an event in Shenzhen. “Various governments have announced timetables to end the sale of fossil fuel cars and this is putting pressure on everyone else.”

China has set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of its auto sales by 2025 in a bid to combat air pollution and close a competitive gap between its newer domestic automakers and their global rivals.

“It’s certainly possible for all cars an automaker sells in China and around the world to be electrified in some way by 2030,” said James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific head of consultancy IHS Markit Automotive.

Others have been less optimistic about the pace of the industry’s shift to electric cars.

This month, General Motor Co’s (GM.N) CEO said during a visit to China that the shift to NEVs would only work with continued government support and that consumers should be the ones driving demand rather than government mandate.

However, China is phasing out subsidies that have supported makers of NEVs like BYD, leading to a sharp fall in profits for the firm so far this year.

Global carmakers have also called on China to soften “impossible” targets for NEVs, which require firms to sell electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles to generate ‘credits’ equivalent to 8 percent of total sales by next year.

Wang added that 20 cities in China would start building BYD sky rail transport systems next year, amid a push by the firm to diversify away from cars alone. Its first sky rail project was launched in the northwestern city of Yinchuan this month.]]>
9/21/2017 11:01:01 AM
<![CDATA[Toshiba keen to seal $18B chips sale]]>
Toshiba said on Wednesday it had agreed to sell the prized unit to the Bain consortium, and had been expected to formalise the sale on Thursday.

Instead, South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc (000660.KS), part of the winning consortium, said talks were still ongoing. Sources familiar with the matter confirmed consortium members were still wrangling over details of their agreement and said commitment letters from all participants were still needed before the sale could be signed formally.

“There are some key issues still to be agreed upon in the content approved by Toshiba’s board,” the South Korean chipmaker said in a statement, adding that it would continue talks.

Toshiba and Bain did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Adding to uncertainty, jilted suitor and Toshiba joint venture partner Western Digital (WDC.O) took fresh legal action overnight, filing new arbitration requests to stop Toshiba investing in a new flash memory production line without its help.

Shares in Toshiba reflected the concerns, falling more than 2 percent in late afternoon trade.

Struggling to plug a yawning balance sheet hole after a cost blow-out at its now-bankrupt U.S. nuclear business, Toshiba has been trying to sell its chip business since late January.

Agreeing the sale of the world’s second-largest producer of NAND flash memory chips brings the group closer to the end of a tangled and fraught process.

As late as Tuesday night, sources said Toshiba was leaning towards selling the business to Western Digital.

MAJOR UNKNOWNS

Bain has partnered with SK Hynix and brought in deep-pocketed U.S. buyers of Toshiba chips such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Dell Inc [DI.UL] to bolster its bid.

But there are major unknowns, including the outcome of antitrust investigations and the battle with Western Digital.

It is unclear how long that process could last, and what impact it would have on the completion of the sale.

Industry watchers also said SK Hynix’s participation could prolong antitrust reviews, particularly in China, as Beijing is trying to grow domestic players. The South Korean chipmaker plans to limit its role to financing, but it’s unclear if it hopes to gain a stake in the future.

“It’s clear to everyone that this Bain deal will have difficulty succeeding,” said Akira Minamikawa, principal analyst at IHS Markit.

The NAND flash memory chips business faces fierce price competition with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), he said, and China was likely to join the race.

“To survive, Toshiba needs to shift its focus to (flash memory-backed) storage systems for servers rather than selling memory chips alone. And strong players there are Samsung and Western Digital, not (new partner) SK Hynix.”]]>
9/21/2017 10:58:03 AM
<![CDATA[Euro zone growth gaining momentum but inflation subdued: ECB]]>
The firming of the euro also presents a source of risk for inflation because it implies a moderation of price pressures, requiring monitoring, the ECB said in a regular economic bulletin that was largely consistent with its statement after this month’s interest rate decision.

The ECB earlier this month left its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged but said it would discuss “recalibration” next month, a signal taken by markets as confirmation that the bank would curb its stimulus from next year, given strong growth and a waning threat of deflation.

“The swift decline in euro area unemployment is particularly encouraging against a background of increasing labour supply,” the ECB added. “Nevertheless, broader measures of unemployment suggest that slack is still elevated in many euro area labour markets.”]]>
9/21/2017 10:55:43 AM
<![CDATA[From new tax office, Catalonia hopes to grab billions from Madrid]]>
As in other Spanish regions, the agency already collects some taxes on wealth, inheritance, gambling and transport.

But the regional government has spent 18 million euros expanding the agency in the hope that it will gain independence from Madrid in an Oct. 1 vote that the Spanish government considers illegal.

From the shiny port office with a 20 year lease, it is hoping to wrestle control of the rest of the region’s finances, claiming billions of euros of income tax and corporate revenue currently going to the Spanish government.

Catalonia has increased the agency’s staff by 75 percent to 700 since January and plans to fill the empty desks by the end of the year if the vote goes through. It has also opened a dozen new regional offices.

This is Catalonia’s most tangible investment in the institutional infrastructure needed for a fledgling state and highlights its government’s determination to secede. It says it will declare independence within 48 hours of a “yes” vote.

It also shows that they are likely to keep pushing for independence, even if they lose the vote.

“In a future transition, it would not be acceptable for them to keep our taxes, because they are ours and they keep a lot,” said Catalan Treasury Secretary Josep Lluis Salvado.

Madrid has declared the vote unconstitutional so there are widespread doubts about whether Catalonia can even stage a credible vote.

It may also not go in the Catalonian government’s favour. Polls show less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want self-rule although most want the chance to vote on the issue.

It is also not clear that companies would pay up: Barcelona’s business lobby says no private firms would obey Catalan tax demands unless approved by Madrid.

But the Spanish government appears to be rattled.

On Wednesday police entered the Catalonia tax office as part of a raid on regional government offices, seizing documents and cutting off phone lines, according to a department official. Police also arrested Catalonia’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove. It was the latest step in Madrid’s campaign to prevent the referendum from going ahead.

Catalonia’s resolve also worries some investors in Spanish bonds and the tax agency’s expansion suggests an early post-independence flashpoint with Madrid could be a financial one.

Catalonia, with an economy larger than Portugal‘s, says it receives an unfair redistribution of tax revenues from Madrid.

Each year, it pays about 10 billion euros ($12 billion) more in taxes to Madrid than it gets back, or around 5 percent of regional economic output, according to data from the Spanish Treasury. In contrast, Spain’s poorest region, Andalusia, receives almost 8 billion euros more than it pays in.

“The money issue is one of the roots of the problem, the feeling that Catalonia is being ripped off,” said Angel Talavera, a Catalan economist at consultancy Oxford Economics.

If its agency took over all forms of taxation, it would also collect income, company and value-added taxes, bringing total receipts to 42 billion euros, Salvado said. The agency collected about 3 billion euros last year, according to a spokeswoman for the Catalan economy and budget department.

To avoid financial collapse, an independent Catalonia would need those tax revenues, economists say. It has 75 billion euros in public debt, 35 percent of its economic output, one of the highest of all Spain’s regions, and its government bonds are already classified as “junk” by credit rating agencies.

Investors are growing nervous as the referendum nears: the additional yield that Catalan bonds pay over Spanish short-term debt is at close to a nine-month high of about 300 basis points.

The Catalan government last issued a bond in 2012, two years ahead of a previous failed independence referendum. It is not currently considering any bond issues, a spokeswoman said.

‘IT‘S IMPOSSIBLE’

Upon a declaration of independence, Salvado said Catalonia would seek to open talks with Madrid to take over all taxation in phases. It would start in October by pocketing 2.5 billion euros in taxes from about 700 public Catalan firms that currently goes to Madrid.

Later, the agency would collect tax from private firms and individuals. It could take years and the agency would need at least another 4,000 employees, Salvado added.

“The principal challenge is to make sure the taxpayer does not perceive a change,” he said.

Spain’s Treasury has told Catalan businesses that paying taxes to the regional tax agency could constitute a crime. Madrid also took legislative steps last week to prevent the Catalan government from using Spanish public funds to pay for the ballot.

“At the moment companies view it as impossible, they don’t consider it,” Jordi Alberich, director of Barcelona-based business association Cercle d’Economia, told Reuters.

The Catalan government also lacks the database needed to correctly collect personal income and company taxes, according to Carlos Cruzado, the head of the Spanish Treasury’s workers union.

Salvado said the agency had sufficient data on taxpayers’ inheritance and wealth taxes to make a start on taking over other forms of taxation, but they would seek to negotiate access to Spain’s historical tax records.

He did not expect a positive response. “The Spanish state is going to use its preferred word - ‘No’.”]]>
9/21/2017 10:53:25 AM
<![CDATA[Google likely to buy stake in Taiwan smartphone maker HTC]]>
The deal for HTC's smartphone design unit would give the US tech giant more control of its mobile handset hardware as it seeks to bolster its challenge to market leaders including Apple and Samsung.

Google did not respond to an AFP query on the report, which said an announcement could come later in the day.

HTC is already a partner of the California giant and has produced the Google-branded Pixel smartphone, an upgrade of which is set to be released next month.

But the tie-up could give Google greater ability to integrate smartphone hardware and its Android operating software in the same manner as Apple, a feature which is seen as helping the iPhone.

HTC shares have fallen sharply over the past few years as its smartphone market share has dropped. Trading in HTC was suspended pending an announcement.

It would not be the first foray into hardware for Google, which in 2012 acquired handset maker Motorola for $12.5 billion, only to sell it two years later for less than $3 billion.]]>
9/21/2017 7:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[London may decline , banks warn ahead of May's speech]]>
In statement ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on Brexit in the Italian city, TheCityUK, Britain's most powerful finance lobby said it was "crunch time" for finance firms.

It cautioned that companies are already moving jobs overseas because of Britain's decision to leave the European Union, and further faltering in Brexit talks will lead to irreversible decisions.

After months of talks that have made little progress and deepened rifts in her party, May will on Friday try to put the negotiations on track and reassert her authority in a speech in Florence.

That was not lost on TheCityUK.

"Florence was once a powerful European financial centre, but lost its position as other better-connected centres arose elsewhere. We don’t want to see the same thing happen to the UK, or indeed to Europe as a whole," it said.

The future of London as Europe's financial centre is one of the biggest issues in the Brexit talks because it is Britain’s largest export sector and biggest source of corporate tax revenue.

"For our industry, this really is crunch time," said Miles Celic, TheCityUK's chief executive officer.

"Many firms are already moving parts of their operations out of the UK and Europe. When they’ve gone, it's hard to see them coming back."

Around 10,000 finance jobs will be shifted out of Britain or created overseas in the next few years if the UK is denied access to Europe’s single market, according to a Reuters survey of firms employing the bulk of workers in international finance.

Some politicians and financiers say, however, that banks are exaggerating the threat to the economy from Brexit.

One of the key demands of the industry is that Britain and the EU negotiate a significant transition period in order for firms to adapt to the new relationship and avoid financial instability. But TheCityUK has warned that little progress has been made on agreeing such an arrangement.

Catherine McGuinness, head of policy at the City of London, the local government that administers Europe's biggest financial centre, told Reuters she is increasingly "despondent" about the lack of progress in the divorce talks. "You can hammer out the best possible deal in the world, but it you take too long about it, you may lose some of the assets that you need to make the best future," she said.

"We really would like to see some progress, putting pragmatism and jobs and the economy above politics and emotion."]]>
9/21/2017 1:17:35 AM
<![CDATA[Ukraine's backers urge government to act on Naftogaz reform]]>
Tuesday's decision by the remaining members of Naftogaz's supervisory board to step down has highlighted the work the government still needs to do to convince its allies of its commitment to eliminate the power of vested interests.

The regional director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), whose loans help Naftogaz buy gas from Europe in winter, said the bank was disappointed by the government's inaction.

"The government of Ukraine has not met the target of implementing bylaws on Naftogaz that enable the board to function properly. And it needs to be fixed," Francis Malige told journalists in Brussels.

He joined calls from the United States and British embassies for the prompt appointment of a new, professional and independent board for Naftogaz.

"The fact remains Naftogaz is being hindered in realizing its potential as a profitable strategic asset," the British embassy said in a statement.

The Ukrainian government has taken steps to improve Naftogaz's finances and boost transparency in the graft-ridden energy sector.

A reform to bring Naftogaz's prices in line with the market helped the firm to post profit in 2016 for the first time in five years.

But the EBRD and others say a planned 'unbundling' - splitting Naftogaz's production, transport and sales businesses - is taking too long.

"All this is complicated, but with the proper political will it can be resolved," the EBRD's Malige said.

"Naftogaz should not remain a monopoly, should be very transparent and it has to have a governance that enables it to make the decisions that put it in the right direction," he said.

Responding to the board's resignation, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told his cabinet on Wednesday that the Naftogaz reforms would not be derailed.

"I guarantee that the reforms will be continued and sped up," he said, emphasising that the government was committed to the unbundling process.]]>
9/20/2017 9:29:03 PM
<![CDATA[Wage growth must be priority for next government - Zaoralek]]>
The center left party trails its coalition partner, the ANO movement, by double digits ahead of the Oct. 20-21 vote but Foreign Minister Zaoralek says it can attract voters concerned with economic fairness.

The Czech Republic is heavily industrialized and has a large auto sector. Strong growth, which stood at 4.7 percent in the second quarter, has led to labour shortages and increased wage demands.

Private sector wage growth has led public sector workers to demand higher pay and the government has increased salaries for health and education workers who have long lagged behind.

"If the society is to remain united ... when there is prosperity, then that has to be for all," Zaoralek, 61, said in an interview. He said his priorities were wage growth, education and lifting living standards to those of western Europe.

The outgoing government has raised the minimum wage each year. The latest rise set wages at 12,200 crowns ($561.23) per month and takes effect next year.

It also agreed to increase teacher salaries. Teachers are the worst paid as compared to other skilled professions in OECD countries.

Zaoralek said the country needed a new economic model that could produce higher margin goods even it meant some companies dependent on cheap labour shut.

Such a shift would echo developments in export industries where wage growth has forced companies to innovate to maintain margins. Czech workers make about a third of their German counterparts.

WESTERN NEIGHBOURS

To catch up with western neighbors the country needs to keep in step with EU partners as the bloc debates its post-Brexit future, he said, adding that the country is interested in getting observer status in the euro zone.

But it should not push to join the euro zone quickly, he said. Such a push could encounter opposition from potential coalition partners.

Zaoralek's stance differs from that of outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who says the next government should set a date for joining. Most Czechs do not want the country to join the currency bloc.

Zaoralek said elections are often decided in the final days of campaigning so the Social Democrats could still form the next government. No party is expected to win an absolute majority and opinion polls have proved inaccurate in previous elections.

One headache for both ANO and potential coalition partners is that parliament voted this month to allow police to charge ANO founder and chairman, billionaire Andrej Babis, with fraud in drawing EU subsidies. He denies wrongdoing.

Zaoralek said he could not see Babis in the next cabinet if he were charged. He did not rule out a coalition with the ANO movement if Babis is not prime minister.

"It is tough to build a coalition with someone who is being prosecuted .... That is unimaginable," he said.]]>
9/20/2017 9:21:30 PM
<![CDATA[Automotive industry strategic sector for national economy: Kabil ]]>
The minister made the remarks while opening the 24th round of the Automech Formula 2017, the Cairo International Motor Show which is held on September 20-23. About 24 car manufacturers are taking part in the show.

The automotive industry is the drive of development for about 13 other sectors in which more than 100 companies are working to create about 86,000 direct and indirect jobs with total investments of $3 billion, the minister said.

The minister noted the state’s strategy for this industry includes packages of incentives to build a wide scale foundation that serve the Middle East and Africa.]]>
9/20/2017 9:20:59 PM
<![CDATA[Japan's Abe promises 'daring policies' to boost economy]]>
Abe, in a speech to investors at the New York Stock Exchange offered no firm details of the promised reforms, but said he was "absolutely" confident his government could deliver changes that would offset a dwindling population and other challenges facing the world's third-largest economy. "I intend to put forward daring policies unlike any that have come before," said Abe, who was scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly later on Wednesday.

Abe made a plea to investors in the audience to put money into Japan's equity markets. "I will invest the entirety of my political resources to open up the future of Japan," he said.

While the Nikkei share average scaled a more than two-year high this week and Japan's economy has expanded for six straight quarters, Japan under Abe has not achieved price inflation targets and critics say his economic reforms have not gone far enough.

Abe has faced investor skepticism that "Abenomics" - a mixture of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and reforms he announced almost five years ago - can alter the outlook for Japan's economy and new business ventures.

Abe also said he wanted to create a "regulatory sandbox system" in Japan, allowing entrepreneurs to start new businesses without conforming to existing regulations for a period of time, without offering details.

Abe made no comment on an expected snap election in Japan - a decision he had said he would make after returning home from the United States on Friday.

Sources have told Reuters that Abe will call for a general election on Oct. 22 to capitalize on a rebound in his approval ratings and disarray in the political opposition.

A solid victory would boost Abe's chances of a third term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader in a party election next September, putting him on track to become Japan's longest-serving premier.]]>
9/20/2017 8:17:53 PM
<![CDATA[Government to discuss Eurobond issuance next week]]>
Speaking at the Euromoney Egypt Conference earlier this week, Garhy said that the government is planning to issue a third round of Eurobonds at a total value of $3-4 billion in the first quarter of 2018.

Egypt issued $7 billion in Eurobonds sales in January and May 2017 on the global bond market, both of which were oversubscribed, according to the Ministry of Finance.

Foreign investments in government debt tools have recorded $15 billion since the flotation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Tarek Amer said last week.
]]>
9/20/2017 7:13:50 PM
<![CDATA[Edita to increase exports to 14% of annual output: Chairman]]>
On the sidelines of the Euromoney Egypt Conference held in Cairo this week, Berzi said that the company targets opening new markets in Africa and some strategic markets in the Arab region in the coming period.

The company is planning to pump new investments in 2018, the chairman said, noting that they will be less than the LE 500 million that were injected last year.

Edita did not pump new investments in 2017 as it saw that last year’s investments were enough, Al-Mal reported.

Berzi said he expects there will be no price hikes for the company’s products in the coming period. He further noted that the company does not need a capital increase as the current cash flow is sufficient for covering its current investments.

The current high interest rates on borrowing reduce the return value on investment, Berzi said, adding that a solution must be hammered out for the higher borrowing costs.
Edita’s profits dropped 85.3 percent year-on-year to LE 7.05 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared to LE 48.09 million a year earlier.

The two-day Euromoney Egypt Conference kicked off on Monday with keynote speakers including Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy and Minister of Trade Tarek Kabil.
]]>
9/20/2017 7:12:33 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt ranked Africa’s top investment destination]]>
For the first time since the commencement of the report in 2011, Egypt has surpassed South Africa, which used to be on top, as Cairo got higher ratings in business and investment indices of the report.

RMB's where to invest report plots the investment potential of African economies using the bank’s Investment Attractiveness rankings, which balance economic activity against the relative ease of doing business.

Rand Merchant Bank is a leading African corporate and investment bank, with its roots in South Africa.

Egypt approved a new investment law in May, which facilitates business procedures, accelerates arbitration of business disputes and offers many incentives in a bid to attract much-needed investment.

Egypt’s net foreign direct investments (FDI) have increased to $13.3 billion in the last fiscal year (FY) 2016/2017, compared to $12.5 billion in the previous one, with a 6.5 percent increase, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said last week.
]]>
9/20/2017 6:30:20 PM
<![CDATA[Average yields fall on Egypt's 6-month, 1 year T-bills]]>
Yields on the 182-day bill dropped to 18.434 percent from 19.110 percent at the last sale. Yields on the 357-day bill fell to 17.868 percent from 18.709 percent.

Total foreign holdings in Egyptian securities stood at 300 billion Egyptian pounds ($17 billion) as of Sept. 19, the head of public debt at the finance ministry, Sami Khallaf told Reuters.]]>
9/20/2017 5:29:12 PM
<![CDATA[UBER to launch transportation buses in Egypt: Nasr]]>
In an interview on ON E satellite channel, Nasr explained that the new Uber busses will be launched within the coming three months, adding that the company still anticipates the issuance of a law regulating its ride-sharing services.

Nasr said that the buses will not only operate in Cairo and Giza, but they will be available in other governorates, especially those of Upper Egypt.

The minister is accompanying President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who headed to New York earlier this week to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

On Wednesday, Nasr met a delegation of 19 American businessmen and investment funds to urge them to expand their investments in Egypt, according to a statement from the ministry.

In coordination with the American Chamber of Commerce, Egypt will organize an investment forum in 2018 to showcase investment opportunities to potential American investors.

Uber arrived in Cairo and Giza in November 2014 and began operations in Alexandria a year later.

The number of drivers who have joined the service has grown 73 times in one year, making Cairo the fastest-growing city for the company in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
]]>
9/20/2017 4:36:07 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. investors target new projects in Egypt]]>
During the meeting in New York, Nasr called on companies to expand their investments in Egypt, stating that the Egyptian government is keen on resolving all issues facing U.S. investors in the country.

In coordination with the American Chamber of Commerce, Egypt will organize an investment forum in 2018 to showcase investment opportunities to potential American investors, Nasr added.

Companies that attended Nasr’s meeting included Capital Business USA, Concord International, Melville, Moon Capital Management and Victoria Capital Partners.

Nasr is accompanying President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who headed to New York earlier this week to attend the United National General Assembly.

During the visit, Sisi met a delegation of American companies, including Apache and Boeing, which expressed intention to expand its investment in Egypt.

Chocolate’s manufacturer Mars also said they will start a new production line in their Egypt-based factory, “Mars exports 70% of its production from Egypt to the Arab world,” Nasr told local media earlier this week.
]]>
9/20/2017 4:09:01 PM
<![CDATA[Transport Min. renews confirmation not to privatize railways]]>
In a press conference, Transport Minister Hesham Arafat said in a statement that the Cabinet renewed its confirmation not to privatize the railways pointing out that the amendment allows the private sector to share in providing service management to improve the service system in the authority.

Arafat described the amendment as important as there is great overload on the Egyptian railways.

He added also that deterrent penalties are imposed on any encroachments on the authority's properties.]]>
9/20/2017 3:59:56 PM
<![CDATA[WB seeking to boost cooepration with Egypt oil sector]]>
The World Bank has contributed to a number of successful projects in Egypt, said Lucio Monari, Director of Energy and Extractive Global Practice, during a meeting with Petroleum Minister Tareq el Molla Wednesday.

He cited a project to extend natural gas to Egyptian houses.

He also pointed to a project to upgrade the petroleum sector and hone skills of workers.

Monari was also pleased with economic reforms implemented by the Egyptian government.

Molla said Egypt is keen on boosting economic ties with major funding institutions with the aim to encourage new investments in the Egyptian oil sector.]]>
9/20/2017 3:41:35 PM
<![CDATA[Greek current account surplus widens in July, tourism revenues rise]]>
The data showed the surplus at 1.569 billion euros ($1.88 billion) from 1.356 million euros in July 2016. Tourism revenues rose to 2.93 billion euros from 2.77 billion in the same month a year earlier.

"A year-on-year rise of 249 million euros in the surplus of the services balance is due to an improvement in all its main components, most importantly in the travel balance, the surplu of which widened by 169 million," the Bank of Greece said.

In July foreign arrivals and the corresponding revenues rose by 10.2 and 5.3 percent respectively year-on-year, the central bank said.

"The improvement in the primary income account is attributable, primarily, to lower net interest, dividend and profit payments," the central bank said.

In 2016 as a whole, Greece had a current account deficit of 1.1 billion euros versus a surplus of 206 million in 2015 as a result of a lower services balance surplus.]]>
9/20/2017 3:35:33 PM
<![CDATA[Chinese firms look to tap lucrative halal market in Dubai]]>
Standing behind her stall at a Dubai exhibition centre, Dai Dong He offered passers-by what looked like carefully wrapped biscuits or chocolates.

"This is dry beef, beef snacks," said Dai, general manager of Anhui Central Asia Food Co, one of eight Chinese firms from Anhui Province displaying products at Halal Expo Dubai 2017.

Dubai is hosting the show for the ninth year running, with the Gulf emirate positioning itself as a major hub for the halal industry, a booming $3 trillion market for goods and services that are permissible under Islamic law.

In recent years Chinese firms have increasingly looked to tap the market, with organisers of the two-day show, which was set to close on Tuesday, saying the Chinese halal sector is forecast to hit $1.9 trillion by 2021, an average growth rate of nine percent from its 2015 level.

Exhibitors from China said one of the keys to gaining a foothold in the market was winning the trust of consumers.
"We make sure our food is halal," Dai told AFP, noting that the company buys meat from Chinese Muslims to ensure slaughtering is done according to Islamic tradition.

Nicholas Hsiu, a manager with ARA Halal Development Service Centre, said the show was an opportunity to promote the company's exports.

"We want to export to Muslim countries... We hope to introduce our products and export to the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East," he told AFP.

The company manufactures various types of halal noodles and has obtained certificates from recognised Islamic accreditation bodies in Hong Kong and elsewhere, Hsiu said.

Seventy-five exhibitors from 15 countries, including Malaysia, the global leader in halal exports, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Switzerland and others took part in the show.

Global halal hub

The industry encompasses food, beverages, fashion, cosmetics, tourism, and the $2 trillion Islamic financial industry. For food products the key is ensuring no traces of pork or alcohol, which are strictly banned by Islamic teachings.

Exhibitors from Malaysia displayed a wide-range of cosmetics, beauty care products and agricultural seeds that one firm claimed "are better than Viagra".

Mountain honey processed to conform with Islamic requirements was displayed by one Pakistani firm, while exhibitors from Kazakhstan presented various types of chocolates.

Standing at a stall packed with natural cosmetics, Nur Syarifatun Nadzirah, the managing director of Gaveno Green Resources in Malaysia, said the company ensured its products comply with halal rules.

"We make sure that all the ingredients are halal... We have certification" from well-established Malaysian bodies, she told AFP.

Dubai, which unlike its oil-rich Gulf neighbours has a highly diversified economy, has been vying to become the global hub for the halal industry.

The UAE imports about $20 billion in halal products every year, part of the some $50 billion imported annually by the six Gulf Cooperation Council states.

As well as holding conferences and exhibits, Dubai is establishing standardisation bodies like the Emirates International Accreditation Centre.

The centre is one of several international organisations that set guidelines and issue certificates for products that conform to Islamic rules.

The initiative is part of efforts "for Dubai to become the capital of the Islamic economy," Amina Ahmed Mohammed, the centre's CEO, told AFP.

The emirate is also looking to overcome one of the main challenges facing the industry -- different and sometimes conflicting standards and requirements depending on interpretations of religious texts.

"The UAE has launched an international forum for the accreditation of halal organisations... in a bid to unify procedures around the world," Mohammed said.]]>
9/20/2017 3:33:30 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends on mixed note, market capitalization hits LE 732B]]>
The benchmark index EGX30 fell 0.25 percent to close at 13,695 points.

The small and mid-cap index EGX70 increased 1.88 percent to end at 763 points. The broader index EGX100 index also leveled up 1.27 percent to close at 1,692 points.

Market capitalization recorded LE 732.4 billion on Wednesday.Turnover registered LE 1.09 billion, while traded volume stood at 335.7 million shares.
Arab investors were net sellers with a total of LE 3.27 million, while local and foreign traders purchased by LE 1.5 million and LE 1.77 million, respectively.

The Financial Services excluding Banks led sectors in terms of traded values with LE 187 million, while the telecommunication topped sectors in terms of traded volumes with 95.9 million shares.

Engineering Industries (ICON) topped gainers and skyrocketed 9.9 percent, while Al Rakta Paper Manufacturing led the worst performers and slipped 4.9 percent.
]]>
9/20/2017 3:03:15 PM
<![CDATA[SMEs authority signs LE50M contract with United Bank]]>
The agreement is to finance purchasing machineries, equipment and construction of small- and medium-sized projects with economic feasibility, head of the authority Nevine Gamea' said.

The LE 50 million will be provided by the authority and the bank, each will contribute LE 25 million, and will be used to finance 180 projects, create more than 1,600 jobs.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Authority has provided various projects with a total value of LE 3.5 billion from January to July 2017, Gamea' said during the signing ceremony.

"Since 2012 to August 2017, the United Bank has sealed five funding contracts with small and medium projects with a total value of LE 395 million," the bank's chairman Ashraf el-Kady said.

Some 17,000 SMEs were established in 2017, with total finances of LE 19 billion ($1.1 billion), Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Tarek Amer said last week.
]]>
9/20/2017 2:56:07 PM
<![CDATA[EFG-Hermes to manage BPE Partners IPO on EGX]]>
The newspaper highlighted that the EGX committee has approved in July 2015 listing the shares of the company with an issued and paid capital of LE 584.46 million, distributed over 58.44 million shares at a nominal value of LE 10 per share.

BPE Partners has decided to appoint EFG-Hermes along with Sigma to ensure the highest coverage rate of IPO, sources told Al Mal, expecting that floatation would be finalized by early 2018.

The company will offer a stake of 25-30 percent on the EGX.

Grant Thornton LLP will be managing the financial consulting works to set the fair value of share, while Zaki Hashem & Partners will be the legal consultant of the IPO, the newspaper added.

The aim of the IPO is to secure financial resources to implement an expansion plan and seize new opportunities in power and real estate sectors, sources told Al-Mal.

The portfolio of BPE Partners includes Ibtikar for Investment Finance, Total Egypt, Madinet Nasr Housing & Development, PGESCo (Power Generation Engineering and Services Company), Giza Systems, the Cairo Kidney Center, Bio Pharma Egypt and Al-Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment.
]]>
9/20/2017 2:36:47 PM
<![CDATA[Stocks notch up new high but it's all about the Fed]]>
Wall Street was set to open flat, index futures indicated ESc1 1YMc1 NQc1, as European shares edged lower. A slight rise on Asian bourses was nevertheless enough to push MSCI’s World index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks stocks in 46 countries, up fractionally to a new record.

But with the Fed due to unveil its policy decision and economic forecasts at 1800 GMT, caution prevailed. There was little follow-through from U.S. President Donald Trump’s bellicose rhetoric over North Korea on Tuesday.

The dollar fell less than 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies .DXY and was down against the euro, the yen and sterling.

The Fed is expected to signal whether it will raise rates for the third time this year and to say it will start to cut its holdings of about $4.2 trillion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities next month. It will issue new economic forecasts and Fed Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference.

Markets are pricing in a 56 percent probability of the Fed raising rates in December, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR, which edged up on Tuesday, retreated 1.8 basis points on the day to 2.23 percent. German equivalents DE10YT=TWEB, the benchmark for euro zone borrowing costs, fell 1.3 bps to 0.44 percent.

The European Central Bank is widely expected to say next month that it will begin scaling back its asset-purchase stimulus program from January, even though a stronger euro, which dampens inflation, has complicated the outlook.

“If we move closer to a U.S. rate hike, that should come along with a bit more dollar strength and euro weakness which would harden the ECB’s exit case and be a headwind for government bonds,” said Commerzbank strategist Rainer Guntermann.

The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.2004 EUR= while the yen rose 0.3 percent to 111.24 per dollar. Sterling, which has jumped in recent days after the Bank of England said interest rates were likely to rise in coming months, gained a further 0.4 percent to $1.3528 GBP=D3 in response to forecast-beating retail sales data.

The New Zealand dollar hit its strongest in more than a month at $0.7374 NZD= after a poll showed the ruling National Party regaining a wide lead over the opposition before Saturday's election.

NORMALIZATION

“If anything, risks to the dollar are skewed to the downside given balance sheet normalization was already well-telegraphed and should be conducted in a very gradual manner,” ING strategists wrote in a note.

The pan-European STOXX 600 share index dipped less than 0.1 percent. An index of European banks .SX7P was a leading faller, down 0.6 percent. Healthcare stocks .SXDP rose 0.3 percent.

Shares in Germany’s ThyssenKrupp (TKAG.DE) rose 3.6 percent after the company agreed with India’s Tata Steel (TISC.NS) to merge their European steel operations to create the continent’s No. 2 steelmaker. Tata shares rose 1.7 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei .N225 closed up 0.05 percent and Shanghai .SSEC added 0.3 percent.

Oil prices rose after Iraq’s oil minister said Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries producers and others were considering extending a supply cut, and after data showed U.S. crude stocks were lower than expected.

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 66 cents a barrel to $55.80, just shy of a five-month high of $55.99 hit last week.

Gold XAU= edged up 0.3 percent to $1,314 an ounce as the dollar dipped.]]>
9/20/2017 2:14:48 PM
<![CDATA[Toshiba selects Bain group as buyer of its prized chip business: sources]]>
But it’s unclear whether the decision by Toshiba’s board will mean the sale will now proceed smoothly, as rival suitor Western Digital Corp (WDC.O) has initiated legal action, arguing no deal can be done without its consent due to its position as Toshiba’s joint venture chip partner.

The Bain-led offer for the world’s No. 2 producer of NAND semiconductors is worth some $22 billion, sources have said.

It has partnered with South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc (000660.KS) and brought in U.S. buyers of Toshiba chips such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Dell Inc [DI.UL] to bolster its bid. Memory product maker Kingston Technology and data storage firm Seagate Technology Plc (STX.O) are also part of the group.

The make-up of the consortium could spell trouble ahead, said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.

“The large number of stakeholders could complicate decision-making and slow down key investment decisions,” he said, adding that the participation of Toshiba clients would also sap the ability of the chips business to negotiate competitively on pricing.

Bain’s win, first reported by Reuters, has been hard fought as wrangling went down to the wire and late on Tuesday the Western Digital-backed consortium, which includes KKR & Co LP (KKR.N), appeared to be in the lead, sources said.

But the California-based firm would not agree to limits to any future stake in the chip business that had been demanded by Toshiba, said one person briefed on the matter.

A separate source said that an official announcement by Toshiba on the deal had been held up as the Japanese firm was still waiting for commitment letters from all of the Bain consortium members.

Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak about discussions on the sale.

Toshiba declined to comment. A representative for Bain was not immediately available for comment while SK Hynix declined to comment.

SCRAMBLE FOR FUNDS

After a slew of revised bids and changing alliances among suitors, an agreement comes not a moment too soon for Toshiba. It has been under pressure from its lenders to clinch a deal this month to ensure enough time for regulatory reviews so that it can finish the sale by the end of the financial year in March.

If it doesn‘t, it won’t have the billions of dollars it needs to plug a huge hole in its finances caused by its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, and could be delisted.

Even without that problem staring it in the face, the semiconductor business requires huge amounts of investment and Toshiba’s chip unit runs the danger of losing its competitive ability as rivals such as Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) roll out big capital spending plans.

Western Digital has already taken its dispute with Toshiba to the International Court of Arbitration to prevent a sale without its consent, and a source with knowledge of the matter has previously said it is prepared to seek an immediate court injunction should the deal not go its way.

A representative for Western Digital was not immediately available for comment.

The Bain-led group had at one stage been chosen as preferred bidder but those talks lapsed as Japan government investors who had been part of that consortium told Toshiba they were reluctant to close a deal in the face of legal challenges posed by Western Digital.

The Bain consortium has since revised the offer, aiming to get around that problem by inviting the state-backed investors - the Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) and the Development Bank of Japan - to invest in the business only after any arbitration with Western Digital is settled.

But sources familiar with the talks have said it remains unclear if INCJ will commit to joining the consortium even when the legal dispute is resolved, casting uncertainty over the whether Japanese government will be able to prevail in its desire to have the chip business mainly under domestic control.]]>
9/20/2017 2:02:27 PM
<![CDATA[Six gas projects worth $2B were completed in FY 2016/17]]>
Over the previous fiscal year, four gas discoveries were announced in the Mediterranean and Nile Delta regions, Bakly said during a meeting with Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla to review the annual results of EGAS, according to a statement from the petroleum ministry.

He stated that these discoveries have contributed in boosting EGAS' production during the year as gas sales stood at 1.63 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Bakly added that the state-owned company was able to mitigate the issue of the decline in wells' production through using new technologies and techniques.

On the near term, EGAS will issue an international auction for oil and gas exploration in the West Mediterranean area, the chairman added.

Speaking about the achievements of the company in FY 2016/2017, Bakly said that five new natural gas pipelines were completed and connected to the national gas grid.

The power plants consumption recorded 61 percent of the local gas production, Bakly added.

In FY 2016/2017, natural gas was delivered to around 580,000 households to reach a total of 8.14 million residential units. It was also connected to 1,541 commercial customers and 442 new bakeries.

Moreover, around 6,400 vehicles were converted to run on natural gas, instead of petrol, to reach a total number of 230,000 vehicles.
]]>
9/20/2017 1:53:27 PM
<![CDATA[TE launches Egypt’s 4th mobile network ]]>
Earlier this week, TE CEO Ahmed el-Behery inaugurated the network’s first customer service center in Mohandiseen. The company said that it aims to increase the number of main branches over the next period.

The network, whose numbers begin with 0155, has launched data and call services and began selling phone lines with 4G services.

Behery said that TE will invest LE 7 billion over the next year to develop its cable infrastructure and phone centrals, according to press reports.

There are three other mobile service providers in Egypt, namely Vodafone, Orange and Etisalat.

Telecom Egypt has a monopoly on landlines in the country.
]]>
9/20/2017 1:36:32 PM
<![CDATA[Temporary permits to be granted for non-licensed factories]]>
Kabil added that the decision activates the new Industrial Permits Act and targets legalizing the non-licensed industrial facilities in line with the law and its regulations.

Integrating the informal factories to the formal system is one of the law’s most important goals, as these factories are a part of the Egyptian industrial structure, Kabil said.

In order to obtain the permit, the industrial activity shall not be established in an area where the activity is banned as per the laws and decisions in force.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has issued the executive regulations of the New Industrial Permits Act on August 13, which targets facilitating procedures of starting an industrial business and encourages the integration between the unofficial and official economy.

Earlier, Kabil explained that 80 percent of the projects will be granted licenses upon notifications, while 20 percent will have to wait for the approval of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) due to being categorized as “risky” industries.
]]>
9/20/2017 1:01:55 PM
<![CDATA[Renewables investor Quercus plans 500 million euro-plus Iran solar project]]>
The planned 600-megawatt (MW) plant, located in central Iran, will be the sixth largest globally, behind projects of up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) in China and India.

Diego Biasi, chief executive of Quercus, which has a track record of investing in renewable energy in Europe, told Reuters the firm had decided to go for such a big project to get an endorsement from Iran’s Ministry of Energy.

“This is a project of national interest, so we got special support. We had enough investors interested so instead of splitting that across smaller projects which wouldn’t have given us the same relationship with the Ministry, we decided to go for one,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday. The hope was this would lead to more solar projects.

Established in 2010, independently-owned Quercus has a portfolio of around 40 renewable energy plants across Europe. The Iran project is its first investment outside Europe, and came in response to client demand, Biasi said.

Under the terms of the agreement signed by Quercus and Iran’s Ministry of Energy, the firm will be responsible for the construction, development and operation of the plant.

Construction is expected to take three years, with each 100 MW standalone lot becoming operational and connecting to the grid every six months, to mitigate the risk for investors.

Rather than investing via a fund structure, Quercus will set up a project company and investors will hold shares via a private placement. It has already attracted interest from private and institutional investors, including sovereign funds.

Iran is heavily reliant on natural gas and oil to generate power, but air pollution is driving interest in renewables and Iran has made a commitment to develop 5 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2020.

Iran’s installed solar energy capacity is currently 53 MW, according to Iranian energy ministry data, but 76 firms have signed deals to study building an extra 932 MW of capacity. Interest has grown since the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in 2016.

“The market is becoming more active on the permit side but on the construction side it hasn’t opened up yet. After this project we think there will be increasing interest from foreign investors,” Biasi said, adding interest was already quite strong.

The project will benefit from bilateral investment treaties that ensure foreign investors are treated the same as local ones. Biasi said there was also a guarantee in the contract with the Ministry of Energy that the electricity would be paid for.

As Quercus has appointed a local partner, Sunir, to help build the plant in conjunction with Spanish firm Bester, it may also benefit from a 15 percent uplift in the feed-in tariff, Biasi said. Under Iran’s renewables regime, the feed-in tariff may be increased by up to 30 percent if local equipment and components are used.]]>
9/20/2017 10:19:48 AM
<![CDATA[UK employers' optimism falls to lowest since Brexit vote - REC]]>
However confidence in hiring and investment remained stable this month, the survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, representing recruitment firms, showed.

“The political climate isn’t helping the situation. Businesses need clarity in order to plan effectively, and so far the Brexit negotiations have not resolved any of the core issues,” REC chief executive Kevin Green said.

With 18 months to go before Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU, little progress has been made in negotiations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to give a speech about Brexit on Friday, seen as a bid to put the talks back on track and fill an apparent policy vacuum.

She may also seek to reassert her authority, days after foreign minister Boris Johnson laid out his own Brexit vision, challenging her more cautious approach and exposing the fault lines in the government that have added to the uncertainty.

Green said he hoped for a quick deal on the status of EU nationals already working in Britain.

Britain’s economy slowed in the first half of 2017 as rising inflation, pushed up by the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote, ate into households’ spending power.

So far, there has been little sign in official data of an offsetting effect from higher exports or more investment.

Open Britain, a pro-EU campaign group, said the survey showed businesses were losing confidence in the government’s plans for Brexit.

“Their plan for a crackdown on immigration from Europe will leave employers and our National Health Service short of the workers they need,” Pat McFadden, a Labour Party lawmaker who supports Open Britain, said in a statement released by the group.]]>
9/20/2017 10:15:22 AM
<![CDATA[Uber reviews Asia business amid U.S. bribery probe - source]]>
The review comes after Uber said in August it was cooperating with a preliminary investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether its managers violated U.S. laws against bribery of foreign officials, specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Uber has hired law firm O‘Melveny & Myers LLP to review its Asia operations. It previously hired the firm to investigate how it obtained the medical records of an Indian woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014, Reuters reported in June.

Bloomberg first reported Uber's review of its Asia operations. It said O'Melveny & Myers was examining records of payments made in Asia and interviewing employees. (bloom.bg/2xdk6PT)

It quoted people with knowledge of the matter as saying that late last year, an Uber employee in Jakarta made multiple, small payments to police on the understanding that Uber would be permitted to continue operating from an office located in a non-business zone.

Uber fired the employee and placed the head of the Indonesian business who approved the expense report on a leave of absence, Bloomberg said, citing the sources. The head has since left the company, it reported.

Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Reuters there was no investigation into any payments. He also said jurisdiction over location permits resided with the local government, not police.

Uber declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice could not be reached for comment outside of regular U.S. business hours.

The DOJ is focusing on suspicious activity in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea, Bloomberg reported. Uber’s law firm is also reviewing financial arrangements with Malaysia’s government that may have influenced lawmakers there, it said.

Uber’s financial relationship with Malaysian government-linked agencies includes a $30 million investment by the country’s second-largest pension fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP). Uber also participated in an entrepreneurship programme initiated by the state-backed Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC).

The investment and participation were followed by passage of ride-sharing laws in July.

KWAP declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. MaGIC said “we strongly refute involvement in any quid-pro-quo arrangements.”

The DOJ investigation is the latest in a series of worldwide legal wrangling at Uber, which has also made headlines with allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and executive misconduct.

Last month, Uber appointed Dara Khosrowshahi, who led travel-booking website operator Expedia Inc for 12 years, as chief executive to succeed Travis Kalanick who was ousted in June.]]>
9/20/2017 10:13:03 AM
<![CDATA[Maersk sells oil tankers to owner, opening door to Mitsui]]>
The Danish conglomerate last year embarked on a restructuring to focus on transport and logistics and last month sold its oil and gas business to Total in a $7.45 billion deal.

Maersk said it will use the proceeds to reduce debt and that the sale, which it expects to close by next month, will have no impact on its financial guidance for 2017.

A.P. Moller Holding, a wholly-owned fund established by the founder of A.P. Moller-Maersk with approximately $20 billion under management, will take ownership of Maersk Tankers through its subsidiary APMH Invest A/S.

Maersk said the new owner will establish an ownership consortium for Maersk Tankers’ fleet with Mitsui & Co. and other potential partners, but that A.P. Moller Holding will remain the majority shareholder.]]>
9/20/2017 10:10:05 AM
<![CDATA[Oil rises after Iraq signals possible OPEC cut extension]]>
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $49.78 a barrel at 0644 GMT. Brent crude futures climbed 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $55.37.

While options being considered by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers include an extension of cuts in output by months, it is premature to decide on what to do beyond March, when the agreement expires, Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi told an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

OPEC and producers including Russia have agreed to reduce output by about 1.8 million barrels per day until March 2018 in a bid to reduce global oil inventories and support prices.

Some producers think the pact should be extended for three or four months, others want an extension until the end of 2018, while some, including Ecuador and Iraq, think there should be another round of supply cuts, al-Luaibi said.

But such moves are unlikely to have a big impact, said Georgi Slavov, head of research at commodities brokerage Marex Spectron.

“Demand is not great for crude oil and I don’t see how this will change any time soon. We do not see stronger demand for Q4 2017, which means supply needs to be controlled even more tightly,” Slavov told a briefing in Singapore.

“That won’t be easy as the productivity of oil rigs in the U.S. is expected to rise, so they can get more oil out of the same amount of rigs.”

Meanwhile, U.S. crude stocks rose last week while gasoline and distillate stocks decreased, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.

Crude inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week to Sept. 15 to 470.3 million, compared with expectations for an increase of 3.5 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 422,000 barrels, API said.

Official figures on stockpiles and refinery runs will be released by the U.S. Department of Energy later on Wednesday.]]>
9/20/2017 10:07:33 AM
<![CDATA[European stocks tread softly ahead of Fed]]>
The pan-European STOXX 600 was flat in percentage terms, helped by buoyant commodities-related shares, while blue chips were also steady.

European banking stocks were in particular focus, with the sector trading flat as investors awaited the conclusion of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting for clues as to whether a third interest rate hike is on the cards for this year.

Banks, which have outperformed the broader market so far this year, are a beneficiary of higher interest rates.

Deal-making was also in focus in Europe, with shares in steelmaker Thyssenkrupp rising 5 percent after it struck a preliminary deal with India’s Tata Steel to merge their European steel operations in a 50-50 joint venture.

Though individual share price moves on the STOXX 600 were otherwise fairly muted, results spurred a 6.5 percent jump in Britain’s Kingfisher, the biggest gainer, after the home improvement retailer reported better-than-expected profit for the first half.

Spanish retailer Inditex fell 2.6 percent, however, after the Zara-owner saw gross margins eroded in the first half due to a strong euro.]]>
9/20/2017 10:05:14 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. exchange rate stable Wednesday]]>
The exchange rate of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for the U.S. dollar recorded LE 17.617 for buying and LE 17.717 for selling, which is nearly same rate of the latest banking transactions.

Going up, the euro exchange rate recorded LE 21.09 for buying and LE 21.22 for selling, compared to LE 20.89 for buying and LE 21.02 for selling Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the GBP (British Pound) slightly went up to LE 23.83 for buying and LE 23.97 for selling, from LE 23.51 for buying and LE 23.65 for selling in the latest banking transactions.

As for the Arab currencies, the Saudi Riyal stabilized at LE 4.697 for buying and LE 4.724 for selling, according to the CBE.

The Kuwaiti dinar recorded LE 58.45 for buying and LE 58.82 for selling and the Emirati Dirham registered LE 4.79 for selling and LE 4.823 for buying.
]]>
9/20/2017 9:49:53 AM
<![CDATA[Dana Gas shares may cool ahead of court hearings]]>
A London High Court judge on Tuesday adjourned a trial on Dana Gas and its creditors until Thursday after lawyers for the Abu Dhabi-listed company said that it was prevented from taking part in the proceedings because of an injunction by a Sharjah court, while shares of Qatar’s utility company may rise on new solar plant project.

The judge said he might complete it regardless of whether all parties were present.

Shares of Dana rose 1.3 percent on Tuesday, before the news of the adjournment came.

Dubai theme park operator DXB Eenterainments’ board approved an agreement with privately held Meraas Holding and Meraas Leisure and Entertainment for a 245 million subordinated shareholder loan.

The company has been struggling to break even since it opened some of it theme parks last year and its stock price has taken a hit, down nearly 40 percent since the start of the year, significantly underperforming the main index.

Shares of Qatar Electricity and Water may be bid up after it said land has been allocated for the solar power project in Al Kharsaah, which is set to produce 500 to 1,000 megawatt of electricity.

The first phase of the project will cost around $500 million for producing 500 MW of electricity and to be completed by 2020, the company said adding that investors for the solar power project will be named soon.

“Qatar is self-reliant for the fuel or chemicals required to produce electricity and water, because the sector is fully independent and the country depends on its own resources,” the managing director of QEWC said in a statement.

Internationally, Asian stocks were mostly steady on Wednesday after Wall Street again rose to record highs, although movements were limited as a wait-and-see mood prevailed before the Federal Reserve reveals its monetary policy stance later in the day.

Brent crude stayed near recent five-month peaks, trading at $55.29 a barrel.]]>
9/20/2017 9:42:57 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt's stable outlook signals diversified economy, strong reform momentum: Moody's]]>
Moody's said that Egypt's B3 stable credit profile reflects its large and diversified economy and strong reform momentum, though weak government finances remains a challenge.

It added that the stable outlook on Egypt's sovereign rating indicates that the country's credit strengths and challenges are balanced.

"Although Egypt's economic growth is still below pre-revolution levels, it has started to pick up, and investor sentiment has also improved on the back of strengthened reform momentum," said Steffen Dyck, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer and co-author of the report.

"We also expect that Egypt's high fiscal deficits and government debt levels will gradually reduce," He added.

In the report entitled "Government of Egypt -- B3 stable: Annual credit analysis", Moody's said that the general government primary deficit reached 1.8 percent of GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2016/2017, down from 3.7 percent the previous year and will start to show small surpluses starting from 2019.

The rating agency forecasts a budget deficit of 10 percent in FY 2017/2018, down from 12.1 percent in 2016.

While the government expects a GDP growth of 4.2 percent in 2017, Moody's expects a further acceleration to five percent in 2019, supported by the government's structural reforms.
A credit upgrade would stem from faster-than-expected progress on the government's reform program and more rapid fiscal consolidation and improvements in debt metrics, the rating agency said.

Any signs of reform slowdown would jeopardize the stable outlook, however.
But Moody's believes that risks to policy making have declined further since mid-2016, underpinned by better co-ordination between government entities.
]]>
9/19/2017 10:45:01 PM
<![CDATA[4 logistics centers to be inaugurated in African market in 2018]]>
El Mikati explained in press statements that the center will serve Egyptian exports in western Africa, adding that next month the EEA will decide on the area where the center will be built and the cost of rent.

The chairman of the EEA made these remarks on the sidelines of the second day of Euromoney conference held in Cairo.

He pointed out that a logistics center was inaugurated at the port of Mombasa in Kenya to serve exports to eastern Africa, adding that products worth dlrs one million were exported to consumer market over six months.

In addition, he stressed that another three logistics centers will be inaugurated in Morocco, Zambia and Tanzania in 2018.]]>
9/19/2017 8:37:57 PM
<![CDATA[Ismail attends signing of deal to establish industrial city in Fayyoum]]>
Established over 33 million square meters, the city comprises a mega technological valley and an integrated city that includes all living standards, Minister of Trade Tarek Kabil said after signing of the MoU.

He stressed that the project will make a quantum leap in Egypt’s industry.

It will be implemented in cooperation with Industrial Development Authority that will provide the land for establishing the project, kabil said.

The minister went on to say that the studies of the project will be finalized within seven to eight months and the construction will start within a year.]]>
9/19/2017 8:26:01 PM
<![CDATA[Cooperation with "Singapore Holding Company" to establish industrial cities]]>
These remarks were made after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Industrial Development Authority and Singapore Holding Company to establish a comprehensive industrial city in Kom Oshim district in Al Fayyoum governorate.

In a statement by the media office of the Prime Minister, it said that the memo reflects the keenness of Egypt and Singapore to boost the economic cooperation between them in various fields.

Establishing new industrial city project comes under the Ministry plan to promote industrial development and industrial growth rates, the media office added.

Kabil noted that a joint company will be established between the authority and the Singaporean company to manage all stages of the new project construction as the Singaporean company will fund the project and the authority will provide all kinds of support, information and data related to the project.

The Chairman of the board of the directors of Singapore Holding Company said that the company will provide investment costs for the project through a number of foreign banking institutions as well as cooperation with the authority in the preparation of detailed studies on the establishment of the new project. ]]>
9/19/2017 8:22:09 PM
<![CDATA[Catalent bolsters biopharma business with Cook Pharmica buy]]>
Catalent’s shares fell as much as 2.8 percent to $38.79 on Tuesday, before recovering slightly.

The deal is the latest in the consolidating global contract manufacturing industry and comes when drugmakers are outsourcing more of their development and manufacturing to cut costs.

Swiss pharmaceutical supplier Lonza Group AG (LONN.S) last year said it would buy Capsugel, a U.S. maker of capsules and other drug delivery systems, for $5.5 billion.

The deal gives Catalent access to Cook Pharmica’s Bloomington, Indiana facility, which specializes in developing biologics-based drug compounds or products.

Share of biologics, or drugs manufactured from living organisms, will account for about 21 percent of the combined entity’s pro-forma revenue, Catalent said on a conference call.

Biologics account for about 14 percent of Catalent’s consolidated revenue currently.

The acquisition is “pricey, but important”, said Wells Fargo analyst Tim Evans, as it enables Catalent to beef up previously weak areas of manufacturing active ingredients and final dosage forms of biologic drugs.

Catalent said it would pay $750 million when the deal closes, expected in the second quarter of the company’s fiscal 2018, and the rest in four annual installments.

Cook Pharmica, a unit of medical device maker Cook Group Inc, generated $179 million in revenue for its year ended June 30.

The acquisition will add to adjusted net income per share in the first full fiscal year after the deal closes, Catalent said.

Catalent said it expects to fund the deal with about $450 million of new debt and $250 million of equity and has obtained financing from Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, RBC Capital Markets and BofA Merrill Lynch.

Morgan Stanley is the financial counsel and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP the legal counsel to Catalent.]]>
9/19/2017 7:50:10 PM
<![CDATA[Euromoney panel highlights difficulties facing start-ups ]]>
The panel included Wael Amin, partner at Sawari Ventures operating in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia; Amr El Abd, managing director of Egypt Ventures; Abdelhamid Sharara, founder and CEO of RiseUp; and Ameer Sherif, CEO of Wuzzuf.

The first topic addressed by the panel was the biggest barriers to creating a start-up in Egypt.

"We have more entrepreneurs than capital. For instance, there is a lack of equity investments. We have good ventures but we are far from Saudi Arabia and UAE," Amin said. Sherif also agreed that there is a shortage of financing opportunities in Egypt.

Regarding other difficulties, Sharara argued that if the internet speed in Egypt increases, there would be a huge difference as infrastructure is important. What’s more, El Abd said, "We have to abolish the stigma of failure."

Answering a question on sectors that are right to disrupt the local market, El Abd said that all sectors are right because they need technology to evolve, stressing that businesses of all sizes would create jobs.

As for the mechanisms that should be deployed to boost the numbers of SMEs, Sharara said that it has to be organic through state strategy and not controlled.

"Egyptian start-ups have the opportunity to compete globally, especially after the floating [of the local currency last November]," Sherif said.

El Abd concurred that Egyptians have to "celebrate" what entrepreneurs in the country achieved as building a successful start-up is not an easy mission.

Sharara shared the same opinion, suggesting that start-ups should facilitate mainstream media access to their accomplishments so that they would showcase their "success stories."

Sherif emphasized the necessity of society's awareness on how technology introduction is changing different sectors, which is typically assumed by start-ups who should not need much PR work.

El Abd highlighted that there is a misconception on the difference between SMEs and entrepreneurship among Egyptians, as the former is the size of the business and the latter is "the edge of the business."

Answering a question on which type of venture is better, one that is similar to others in other countries or the one that is unique and unprecedented worldwide, Amin said that both types are challenging. That is because the former require an "indigenous strategy to address an indigenous culture."

"There are merits to both of them," Amin stated, highlighting how Fawry Banking and Payment Technology Services made great efforts to become the pioneering e-payment network in Egypt, enabling the payment of all bills anywhere. Even though that idea had been carried out elsewhere before in the world, it was disruptive to the Egyptian market.

Sherif said that it is quite unfortunate that some start-ups may not receive funds because they are similar to others. "A good business is the one that fulfills a need in the market," Sherif added.
]]>
9/19/2017 5:29:33 PM
<![CDATA[Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy ahead of holiday season]]>
The Chapter 11 filing is among the largest ever by a specialty retailer and casts doubt over the future of its about 1,600 stores and 64,000 employees. It comes just as Toys ‘R’ Us is gearing up for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for the bulk of its sales.

“While today’s decision does not necessarily mean it is game over for Toys ‘R’ Us, it brings to a close a turbulent chapter in the iconic company’s history,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

Toys ‘R’ Us received a commitment for over $3 billion in debtor-in-possession financing from lenders including a JPMorgan-led bank syndicate and certain existing lenders, said the Wayne, New Jersey-based company, which also operates the Babies ‘R’ Us chain.

The financing, subject to court approval, reassures its suppliers they will get paid for their Lego building blocks and Barbie dolls that are being shipped for the holiday season.

“We expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” Chief Executive Dave Brandon said.

“Together with our investors, our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet.”

Its Canadian unit intends to seek protection in parallel proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toys ‘R’ Us said in a statement.

Operations outside of the United States and Canada, including about 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnerships in Asia, which are separate entities, are not part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Toys ‘R’ Us said.

The company’s Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores and e-commerce sites around the world are open for business, it said.

The company is saddled with debt from a $6.6 billion buyout in 2005 led by KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Bain Capital LP, together with real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust (VNO.N).

Toys ‘R’ Us has bonds coming due next year that have lost half their value this month, according to Thomson Reuters data, as investors have grown concerned about a possible bankruptcy.

The company opened a temporary store in New York City’s Times Square this year to capture more holiday shoppers, almost two years after it closed its flagship store barely a block away, driven out by high rents.

“Vendors have cut them off based upon the rumors of the filing which has not been refuted,” said Jay Indyke, a bankruptcy attorney with the Cooley law firm.

With assets of $6.9 billion based on its most recent annual report, it’s the second-largest retail bankruptcy, trailing the filing in 2002 by Kmart, which had $14.6 billion in assets, according to research firm Bankruptcydata.com.

More than a dozen significant retail chains have filed for bankruptcy this year. Among them were Perfumania Inc, apparel chains rue21 Inc and Gymboree Corp, discount shoe chain Payless Holdings LLC and designer clothing chain BCBG Max Azria Global Holdings LLC.

Major retailers including Macy’s Inc (M.N) and Sears Holding Corp (SHLD.O) have closed hundreds of locations as they struggle to compete discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O). Amazon’s recent acquisition of high-end grocer Whole Foods Markets Inc stirred speculation that the online giant will use its pricing power and huge reach among U.S. consumers to go after market share of traditional brick-and-mortar grocers.

Toys ‘R’ Us is the second-largest toy seller in the United States behind Amazon, according to consulting firm Kloster Trading Corp.

“What they have going for them is they are the last major player in their market,” said David Berliner, a partner and restructuring specialist with BDO Consulting.

“The vendors don’t want to see them fail, so I think they have a good opportunity to survive.”

Toys ‘R’ Us filed the petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.



]]>
9/19/2017 2:56:15 PM
<![CDATA[ExpoLink expands operations to Kenya, Ghana to support exports]]>
Talking about export-led industries at a panel about industrialization and exports during the Euromoney Egypt Conference’s second day, Mekati said that majority of the exports are in the food and agriculture industries.

“We are extremely weak in our exports to Africa as Egyptian exports recorded $4 billion from a total trade volume of $400 billion in Africa,” Mekati said, adding that Egypt’s presence in East Europe and Latin America is strong, “around 80 percent of exports to Russia are food products,” he said.

At the same panel, Sherine El Sabagh, head of the Policy Unit at Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, said that the government targets increasing involvement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to 10 percent of GDP.

Commenting about the deficit in the trade balance, Sabagh said the deficit has decreased, “we cannot go down further than this as Egypt has essential imports,” she said.

The government has a strategy to boost exports over the next five years to help generate more dollarized revenues for the treasury, CEO of the Export Development Authority (EDA) Sherine El Shorbagi said.
]]>
9/19/2017 2:03:56 PM
<![CDATA[EIB eyes SME financing in Egypt]]>
Speaking at a panel about industrialization and exports during the Euromoney Egypt Conference’s second day, Climence said that the EIB is willing to engage in small and medium industries that are economically rational and have a foreseeable strategy, to help them scale up.

“We will provide these small-sized companies with long-term lending and technical support… these firms don’t have to include European components in their products,” Climence said, adding that the EIB has set a minimum fund of €25 million ($29.9 million) for each of the benefiting companies.

The EIB has expanded its work in Egypt over the past three years as it financed a total of €2 billion for the infrastructure and energy sectors, Climence added.

Earlier this month, the EIB held an international conference in Cairo to call on the private sector to take the lead in investing to create job opportunities in the Mediterranean region.

Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation will sign a €172 million ($205 million) loan with the EIB in a few days to finance wastewater treatment projects.
]]>
9/19/2017 1:24:28 PM
<![CDATA[AfDB to finance 3 energy projects in Egypt at $250M]]>
On the sidelines of the second day of the Euromeoney Egypt Conference in Cairo, Mokaddem told journalists that a bank's delegation will visit Cairo in October to discuss the procedures of granting the third tranche of the bank's loan to Egypt worth $500 million by the end of 2017.

AfDB approved on September 5

three loans worth $55 million

to fund three 50 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar power projects in Egypt, under the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) Program in Egypt.

The bank has allocated $1.5 billion finance to support the economic and social programs in Egypt over three years, of which Egypt received two tranches worth $1 billion.

A technical delegation is scheduled to arrive to Cairo next week to evaluate the final studies of the Abu Rawash water and wastewater treatment plant, Mokaddem highlighted.

Egypt's Investment Minister Sahar Nasr and Mokadem discussed the latest development in the cooperation strategy 2015 – 2019 worth $3 billion in August.

]]>
9/19/2017 12:52:51 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian SMEs need export trading company: Afrexim Bank]]>
In an interview about the role of multilaterals and investors on the second day of Euromoney Egypt Conference, Oramah said that this company would change the size and impact of SMEs in the Egyptian economy.

“SMEs can’t trade by themselves but they can be a growing engine to promote exports in the country,” Oramah said.

On the sectors they support, Oramah said that they financially support exports engineering services, “because Africa needs infrastructure,” he said, adding that they also provided help to promote pharmaceuticals in Egypt.

The Afrexim Bank is cooperating with the Central Bank of Egypt, the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr to provide $500 million in facilities to SMEs and their supply chains.

The total portfolio of Afrexim Bank for Egypt is $5.2 billion, Oramah added.]]>
9/19/2017 12:50:10 PM
<![CDATA[Norway's sovereign wealth fund celebrates "stunning" $1 trillion value]]>
"I don't think anyone expected the fund to ever reach $1 trillion when the first transfer of oil revenue was made in May 1996," said Chief Executive Officer Yngve Slyngstad of Norges Bank Investment Management, which operates the fund.

"Reaching $1 trillion is a milestone, and the growth in the fund's market value has been stunning," he added.

A Reuters calculation, based on the fund's own live valuation on its website, had previously shown the fund hit the trillion-dollar mark on Sept. 12.]]>
9/19/2017 12:41:26 PM
<![CDATA[Sterling pressured after Carney's comments]]>
The pound rose as much as 3.3 percent last week, jumping more than four cents to $1.3618 on the back of hawkish messages from the BoE and Gertjan Vlieghe, one of the Bank's rate-setters normally considered a dove.

But it slid from its highest level since the Brexit result after Carney's comments on Monday, which some analysts said were aimed at managing market expectations of the pace and number of rates hikes from the British central bank.

Sterling briefly steadied above $1.35 in early morning trade in London, before gradually declining into negative territory.

It was 0.2 percent lower at $1.3477 by 0857 GMT, having earlier hit the day's low of $1.3469.

The pound was 0.4 percent lower at 88.84 pence per euro. .

Traders said the move was a continuation of yesterday's downward momentum following Carney's comments.

"It's traders digesting Carneys comments yesterday and assessing that they may have jumped the gun a little with regards to the timing of the first rate hike," said Jake Trask, corporate dealer at OFX.

"The BoE has cried wolf before regarding rate hikes and although it seems likely to happen soon, it may not be this year."

While investors will be on alert for retail sales data on Wednesday, the key event for traders this week is a speech in Florence on Friday by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

She is expected to discuss the Brexit negotiations, the next round of which has been postponed to the week of Sept. 25. Ratings firm Moody's will also issue its rating of UK sovereign debt on Friday.

In a speech at the International Monetary Fund on Monday, Carney said Brexit was likely to hurt Britain's growth prospects in the short term and push up inflation as the country adjusts to life outside the European Union.

"To guard against this (rise) it appears that the Bank of England is looking to mitigate some of the impact of higher prices by helping put a floor under the pound," said CMC Markets chief markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Britain's inflation rate has accelerated this year, due in large part to the fall in the value of the pound since the referendum decision in June 2016 to leave the EU.

Prices have risen nearly 3 percent, squeezing the spending power of many households and slowing growth in the overall economy. That, analysts say, has also complicated the BoE's job as wages continue to lag price rises.]]>
9/19/2017 12:35:40 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar hits eight-week high vs yen as Fed meets]]>
The yen, which gains in times of crisis because Japan is the world's largest creditor nation and benefits from speculation about repatriation of Japanese money from overseas, also slid to a 21-month low against the euro.

Another safe haven, the Swiss franc, was close to a multi-year low against the euro and analysts said this trend would remain as long as the U.S. continues to favour a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis.

In a speech scheduled for 1430 GMT on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump will urge United Nations member states to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

The U.N. Security Council has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korea, but the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said that most non-military options have all but been exhausted.

"Trump is erratic and there have been conflicting signals from people in his administration, but as long as the market is confident the U.S. approach is going to remain diplomatic, the movement will be away from safe havens," said Jane Foley, senior FX strategist at Rabobank in London.

Aside from the Trump speech, investors are now preparing for potentially more hawkish statements from the Federal Reserve after its two-day policy meeting ends on Wednesday, especially after the Bank of England surprised investors last week with talk of a possible rate hike.

The Fed is widely expected to announce that it will start paring its balance sheet, with the reductions seen likely to start this year.

It is expected to keep rates on hold, but investors will be watching for fresh hints on the chances of another rate rise this year and how many could be expected in 2018.

The dollar climbed as high as 111.88 yen on Tuesday , its highest level since July 26 and up around 0.2 percent on day.

The yen has shown little reaction to the possibility of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling a snap election for as early as October to take advantage of his improved approval ratings and disarray in the main opposition party.

The euro traded at 134.16 yen, up over half a percent against the Japanese currency and at its highest since December 2015. The single currency was also close to its highest against the Swiss franc since January 2015.

Sterling steadied above $1.35, recovering some ground after a nearly 1 percent slide on comments from the Bank of England's governor Mark Carney who said on Monday interest rates rises in coming months would be limited and gradual.]]>
9/19/2017 12:33:35 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to be 'fantastic' industrial hub for exports, logistics: Kabil]]>
Egypt has all the economic competition potentials, including the qualified labor, industrial rapid growth, in addition to the keenness of the government on enhancing the investment environment, the minister noted.

Kabil added that Egypt has regained its place on the global economic map and succeeded to pass the first and second phases of the comprehensive economic reform plan, which contributed to achieving positive growth rate.

In an interview during the second day of the Euromoney Egypt Conference, Kabil announced that Egypt's government will sign Tuesday an agreement for the first industrial city in Egypt, which will be located north of Fayoum governorate.

Kabil added that the city will be stretching over 33 million square meters.

The minister noted that the government has built three industrial complexes so far for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) since last year, as SMEs form 70 percent of the economy.

Kabil said that the ministry is keen on building industrial complexes not just zones, which will be including clusters, houses and schools.

"The industrial opportunities' map will help investors and SMEs know where to invest," Kabil noted.

The minister highlighted that among the issues investors faced was the lack of availability of land plots.

"2015 was the worst year in terms of deficit in the trade balance, hitting $52.9 billion. Since January 2017 till now, the deficit in the trade balance was reduced by 37 percent," Kabil added.

Commenting on the informal economy, Kabil said that it is not about taxes but about the economic growth.

"Global trade is slowing down," the minister said, adding that in 2015 it grew by 2.6 percent, while in 2016, it saw an increase by 1.8 percent. This year, the growth forecast is 2.4 percent.

The minister noted that the government is focusing on labor-intensive projects and high foreign direct investment (FDI) level to help Egypt's economy grow.

The ministry has offered 16 million square meters in 2016 and the first half of 2017, which doubles what was offered in eight years from 20017 to 2015.

"Egyptian industry has recorded unpreceded growth rates of 33 percent in last June,"Kabil said quoting the Economist economic magazine.

Talking about the ministry's progress since the last Euromoney, Kabil highlighted that the ministry has issued the industrial permits law and regulations, in addition to the advance in the EgyTrade network.

Kabil noted that the World Trade Organization's (WTO) expectations showed that the global trade rates will rise by 2.4 percent, where it would stand between 2.1 percent and 4 percent.

The two–day conference kicked off on Monday in Cairo and saw interviews with the Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) and a number of investment banks and mega firms.

]]>
9/19/2017 12:19:21 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian economic reform program encouraging for Australian companies]]>
In statements to MENA on the fringe of the Euromoney conference in Cairo, Hawkins said his country seeks to boost trade exchange with Egypt, hailing the economic decisions adopted by the Egyptian government.

He said trade exchange between the two countries stood at 600 million dollars in 2016.

Meanwhile, Hawkins said a delegation from Australian universities will visit Egypt in October to discuss means of promoting cooperation in the educational score.]]>
9/19/2017 11:23:02 AM
<![CDATA[Trade Ministry to ink 1st industrial city in Egypt ]]>
In an interview at the second day of the Euromoney Egypt Conference, Kabil added that the city will be stretching over 33 million square meters.

The two–day conference kicked off on Monday in Cairo and saw interviews with the Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) and a number of investment banks and mega firms.

More details to follow.

]]>
9/19/2017 10:00:15 AM
<![CDATA[Stocks, dollar rise as investors turn eyes to Fed]]>
On Wall Street, the Dow had a record close for the fifth session in a row while the S&P set a closing record for the second consecutive session, led by gains in financial shares. Rising U.S. Treasury yields boosted financial stocks, with higher interest rates expected to boost bank profits.

A relatively quiet North Korea and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments on a "peaceful solution" over the weekend eased some concerns for investors.

But an address by U.S. President Donald Trump to world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday and elections in Germany and New Zealand will add extra political uncertainty to the mix this week.

The main event, however, will be the Fed's meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, at which it is likely to take another step toward policy normalization in what is rapidly becoming a worldwide trend.

The central bank is expected to announce plans to begin unwinding its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, nearly a decade after the global financial crisis.

Investors are far from persuaded the Fed will move on rates again this year, with a December change put at less than a 50 percent probability in the futures market.

Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said "the primary reason U.S. yields are creeping up is that thinking about it clearly, the market has decided that the Fed is unlikely to change the December 2017 dot - still saying they expect one more rate hike in 2017."

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last down 8/32 in price to yield 2.229 percent. The yield fell to 2.016 percent on Sept. 8, the lowest since Nov. 10, 2016.

The dollar was up 0.5 percent against the Japanese currency at 111.38 yen.

The Bank of Japan is widely expected to maintain its massive asset-buying campaign at a meeting on Thursday.

Political uncertainty may have a part to play in the BOJ's thinking. Sources told Reuters on Sunday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was considering calling a snap election for as early as next month to take advantage of his improved approval ratings and disarray in the main opposition party.

Canada has already raised interest rates twice in recent months, while the Bank of England shocked many last week by flagging its own coming increases. The European Central Bank, meanwhile, is expected to shed more light on plans to exit its extraordinary stimulus next month.

In the U.S. stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.01 points, or 0.28 percent, to 22,331.35, the S&P 500 gained 3.64 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,503.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,454.64.

On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 index closed at a record high, hitting the 2,500 level for the first time.

"You just had that little momentum spurt after it went through 2,500 but it is kind of running out of steam and is going to bide its time until Wednesday, when they listen to (Fed chief) Janet" (Yellen), said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

Shares of Amazon.com were down 1.3 percent. Amazon Web Services said it will start charging its customers by the second for use of its popular EC2 virtual slices of servers in its data centers, according to a CNBC report. Shares of Google also were down 0.6 percent.

"That competes with Google and Microsoft, and it's going to weigh on the entire tech space," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 percent. MSCI's index of world stocks was last up 0.2 percent and hit an intraday record high of 487.07.

Talk of monetary tightening and a bounce in the dollar put gold on the defensive. Spot gold was down 1.04 pct at $1,305.46/oz.

U.S. crude oil prices slipped below $50 per barrel but stayed close to multi-month highs as refineries in Texas continued to restart after Hurricane Harvey.

U.S. crude futures rose 2 cents to settle at $49.91, while Brent crude futures fell 14 cents to $55.48.]]>
9/19/2017 9:49:17 AM
<![CDATA[Euromoney Egypt second day starts featuring Industry Minister]]>
The keynote interview will feature Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil who is expected to talk about the recently-issued Industrial Permits Act.

The first session will include Egyptian manager of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Walid Labadi, country manager of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Leila Mokaddem, and President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Oramah, as speakers.

Talking about industrialization and exports, the panelists include the CEO of the Export Development Authority (EDA), Sherine El Shorbagi, and Head of Corporate Financing for the European Investment Bank (AIB), Nathalie Climence.

Euromoney’s first day featured an interview with Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy, where he announced that the government is planning to issue eurobonds at a total value of $3-4 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
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9/19/2017 9:42:07 AM
<![CDATA[Experts optimistic about Egypt’s real estate market at Euromoney ]]>
An ongoing discussion led by Richard Banks, consulting editor of Euromoney Conference, about the current performance of Egyptian real estate market and predictions in 2018, has taken place in the two-day annual conference held in Cairo.

“We see great potential in Egypt as an emerging market for development; however certain challenges wait to be tackled,” said John Davis, CEO of Colliers International MENA, a real estate consultancy group.

He added that in order to be able to fully assess the market, one needs to overlook where Egypt stands on the development curve, confirming the Egypt’s commercial market is at the lowest of the curve.

CEO of SODIC, Magued Sherif, has a different approach when assessing the current market performance, stating that Egypt has strong fundamentals in the residential sector where the housing gap has reached a shortage of 3.5 million units and about 300,000 citizens demand homes annually.

“Overall we are in a very challenging period, but the real estate sector has been one of the few sectors performing well in the past period based on high demand. We are still optimistic about further government efforts to provide relaxed payment plans for developers and buyers,” said Sherif.

When assessing the market, Davis points out that certain factors need to be considered including finances provided by government, a proper exit strategy for international investors, and sectors that lack development.

“There are 2.7 million square meters in Egypt that need to be developed into healthcare and educational facilities, and half a million square meters in Cairo alone that needs to be developed in the upcoming 10 years,” he explained.

He also spoke about international investments entering Egypt, emphasizing that current law and strategies need to be revised and made feasible to attract international businesses. He further highlighted the importance of providing end-users a mix-development concept that should be applied in future projects, saying that a metro for example tends to add 25 percent value increase of property if found near.

The concept of mixed-use developments accompanied with a full transportation scheme comes as part of the government’s vision when developing a mega project, such as the new Administrative Capital City. CEO of Admin Capital Company, Ayman Ismail, spoke about the benefits of building a mixed-use development to serve the growing population of Egyptians.
“We needed to expand urbanization and land was the main source of accommodating the growing population of Cairo that contains over 20 million citizens,” said Ismail.
He added that Cairo has previously won the first fastest growing city in the world last year in terms of growing population, claiming that this is a positive intake where the capital city will play a major role in accommodating this increase.

He also pointed out that the new Admin Capital is not a replacement of Cairo, but rather an expansion to the city. The project will also not operate the same as recent developments of New Cairo and 6th of October City.

“Cairo is facing the challenge of concentration of government institutions and offices in downtown, and the plan here is to relocate these offices to the project in the ‘government district’ while also serving an economic purpose of acquiring revenues worth of $10 billion by 2030, and being in proximity to Cairo and SCZone,” Ismail explained.

Ismail added that the government district will be finalized by 2018 and state institutions will be relocating in 2019.

The project is also meant to tackle the housing gap found in the middle-income socioeconomic class which Ismail has stated is a challenge due to the current economic conditions resulting from inflation; however, he mentioned that there are several land offerings in the upcoming period that will be provided through feasible agreements with end-users.

“The last few land offerings were completely satisfactory due to not only economic conditions but also the obstacles presented by current laws that don’t allow anyone to maneuver much and the only solution here is to revise these laws and adjust them to become suitable for investors buying lands,” Ismail emphasized.

Ismail also spoke about the strategies carried out to finance the mega project including creating a shareholder company that owns assets of the project including lands. The capital also comes from the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) and the Egyptian military force.

Participants of the panel discussion tackling the Egyptian real estate market continued to speak about their predictions in the market in the upcoming period, claiming that there has been a boom in the market despite fears following the devaluation of the Egyptian pound that occurred last November.

CEO of Rooya Group for Contracting and Real Estate Development Company, Hisham Shoukri, stated that 2017 has been a good year in terms of company sales.

“The devaluation has opened a new market for Egyptian expats who will be able to invest in more units in the real estate market, purchasing several real estate products due to the liquidity and the availability of foreign currency,” said Shoukri.

He also spoke about the challenges of developing more real estate projects, mentioning that there are several land opportunities, however, the mentality of dealing with land as a product with exaggerated prices should be changed and instead should be dealt with on the value certain projects will add to the land.

Shoukri pointed out that having only one entity responsible for land distribution will be a better solution to developers, encouraging them to build more projects and decrease current bureaucracy found in land acquisition, thus meeting the development vision of 2050.

Amid fast growing demand, for real estate projects and rise in ambitious projects constructed by both government and developers, the demand for an efficient real estate finance market continues to increase.

CEO of Al Oula- El Taamir for Mortgage Finance, Hassan Hussein, spoke about the current performance of the real estate finance market, stating that the mortgage market has grown more than the real estate finance market recording revenues of EGP 6 billion ($339 million) while leasing companies achieved revenues worth EGP 16 billion, and leasing real estate companies alone have achieved EGP 10 billion.

“The market needs more companies operating in real estate finance and more funds. The funds law itself needs to be reviewed and adjusted to serve real estate properties and be able to invest/finance a number of projects not just certain few projects,” Hussein said.

He also added that several companies have been registered in the stock market including SODIC while Rooya Group will be joining in the upcoming period.

One of the challenges that remain vivid in the real estate market due to the lack of a functional real estate mortgage plan is selling secondary homes. Hussein explained that buyers would prefer to buy homes from a developer rather than an individual re-selling his/her home and this is where mortgage plays a major role.

Ismail also agrees that the mortgage and real estate funds need to be more available to accommodate the demands of customers calling on longer payment plans and boosting the commercial sector in specific.

Euromoney is a global platform that provides the higher ranks of many financial markets, tackling top key developments and presenting innovative market trends through an authoritative round up of banking, capital markets, investments, foreign exchange and treasury in several markets in Asia, Latin America, and EMEA.

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9/19/2017 9:00:31 AM
<![CDATA[Wall St clings to records, helped by banks; tech falters]]>
Five of the 11 major S&P sectors ended lower. Rising U.S. Treasury yields boosted financial stocks, as higher interest rates tend to lift bank profits, but rate-sensitive sectors such as utilities were the weakest.

The Fed meeting, which starts Tuesday, is expected to yield details on how the central bank will unwind its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, nearly a decade after the global financial crisis.

After pushing the S&P above its 2,500-point milestone last week, investors were holding their fire as they awaited more clues on the timing of the next rate hike from Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

"You just had that little momentum spurt after it went through 2,500 but it is kind of running out of steam and is going to bide its time until Wednesday, when they listen to Janet" said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.

However, the Dow still clocked a closing record for the fifth day in a row while the S&P had a closing record for the second consecutive session.

"There's momentum in the market. There's lots of cash. Even though the Fed's about to reduce their balance sheet, you continue to have incredibly aggressive monetary policy. That continues to lead to money flowing into the market almost in an indiscriminate fashion," said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.01 points, or 0.28 percent, to 22,331.35, the S&P 500 gained 3.64 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,503.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,454.64.

Big technology stocks such as Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet came under pressure late in the session after Amazon said it would move to charging businesses in one-second increments for use of its servers.

"That competes with Google and Microsoft, and it's going to weigh on the entire tech space" because of price competition, said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Microsoft shares ended down 0.2 percent while Alphabet was off 0.6 percent, with both stocks seeing a pickup in volume late in the day.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.36-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.55-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

About 5.97 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on Monday, compared with the 5.91 billion average for the last 20 sessions.]]>
9/19/2017 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Business news wrap-up]]>Egypt to issue $3-4B eurobonds in Q1 of 2018: Garhy

The sale is a part of the government's plan to bridge fiscal gap at $10-12 billion in FY2017/18.

Bankers flag inflation as Egypt’s main challenge



GDP growth is moving faster than expected, NI Capital CEO said.

Beltone to organize 15 IPOs, mergers worth LE 10B: Chairman


All investors are interested in the Arab region and in the Egyptian market, says Sameh El-Torgoman, chairman of Beltone Financial Holding.

CI Capital to offer $2B finance to industrial sectors in 2017



The volume of finance offered by CI Capital for various industrial sectors are expected to reach around $2 billion in 2017.

FDI to bolster over coming months: investment banks



The economic reform measures taken by the Egyptian government have contributed in boosting foreign direct investment by 25 percent since pound’s flotation, senior economist at CI Capital Hany Farahat said Monday.

UK investors to eye new project in Egypt, BP to pump $13B in 5 yrs



Around 70 percent of the delegation will be fresh entries, UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said.

Current economic reform program is different: Farid



Every time we did not resolve the economic problems from the roots, but took them marginally," Farid said.

Euromoney ‘17: Stability and Cohesion



Euromoney Egypt kicks off its 22nd edition with a focus on SMEs, real estate and a positive outlook that Egypt is investible again.

Ministers, German amb. to inaugurate Egyptian- German conference



Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, Education Minister Tareq Shawky and German Ambassador to Cairo Julius Georg will inaugurate on Wednesday a national conference on Egyptian-German cooperation in technical education and vocational training fields.

Egypt's exports to Nile basin countries reached LE 11,3B in 2016: CAPMAS



CAPMAS said that Egypt's exports to the Nile basin countries reached LE 11,3 billion in 2016 compared to LE 8,2 billion in 2015, an increase of 37,1 percent.

Global debt may be understated by $13 trillion: BIS



Global debt may be under-reported by around $13 trillion because traditional accounting practices exclude foreign exchange derivatives used to hedge.
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9/18/2017 6:29:53 PM
<![CDATA[Beltone to organize 15 IPOs, mergers worth LE 10B: Chairman]]>
At the two-day conference which kicked off in Cairo Monday, Torgoman added to Egypt Today that all investors are interested in the Arab region and in the Egyptian market.

Speaking about the company's withdrawal from the Reefy acquisition, Torgoman said that Beltone is still in the deal and won't draw back, but that it is studying some points.

Regarding the government’s initial public offerings (IPOs), Torgoman assured that Beltone will be participating in all the offerings, even if it is not responsible for managing them, but will be helping in attracting investors towards them.

The Egyptian government has taken some reforming measures in the last period to restructure the economy. These reforms have come in the form of floating the Egyptian pound and changing the governing regulations, in addition to some of the Central Bank of Egypt's (CBE) policies, such as the financial inclusion.

Torgoman highlighted that all the aforementioned reforms are in favor of restructuring the national economy and the country will be bearing the fruit by the end of the current year and the beginning of the next year.
It is important for the restructuring reforms to be accompanied by institutional ones, Torgoman said, adding that facilitating the investment atmosphere is also needed, with setting rules for investors on how to trade in markets. Changing decisions results in 90 percent of investment disputes.
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9/18/2017 5:44:55 PM
<![CDATA[CI Capital to offer $2B finance to industrial sectors in 2017]]>
The group succeeded to achieve an annual growth rate of 30 percent over the past five years and posted revenues of $1.5 billion and assets of $5.5 billion, Badran added.

At the two-day conference which kicked off in Cairo Monday, Badran highlighted that the volume of CI Capital small and medium enterprises (SMEs) investment portfolio stood at $4.5 billion over the last two years.

CI Capital topped the brokerage field last month with a market share of 11 percent, the co-CEO said; highlighting that the most prominent axis of attracting foreign investments easily is the easy access to the securities' market and increasing exports.

Badran assured that Commercial International Bank (CIB) is still acquiring a 10 percent share in the company.
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9/18/2017 5:17:16 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to issue $3-4B eurobonds in Q1 of 2018: Garhy ]]>
At the two-day Conference which kicked off in Cairo Monday, the minister added that the government is planning to issue eurobonds at a total value of $3-4 billion in the first quarter of 2018.

Garhy added that since September last year a lot of reforms were applied such as the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Law, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, Civil Service Law and most importantly the Egyptian pound's flotation.

A year ago, the entire foreign exchange regime was being dealt with outside the banking sector, but now there is no mention for currency-parallel market after flotation, Garhy added.

"Currency situation should reflect the reality of the economy, not only economically but politically as well," the minister said.

Talking about the subsidies system, Garhy highlighted that the government is very resilient about reforming it because it is currently "unfair."

The finance minister noted that parts of the energy subsidies were moved to food subsidies and cash programs such as Takaful and Karama, in order to restructure the subsidies system.

Comparing between the previous and the current regimes, Garhy said that "the current president and regime are taking unpopulous decisions and not comprising, to put things on the right track."

Further, the minister highlighted that the ministry is working on increasing revenues, through the application of the VAT, the devaluation of the pound and picking out certain taxation items, which was reflected in improving tax percentage per GDP.

"We still have weak points in the taxation system and we are fighting tax avoidance. We became addicted to debts after 2011," Garhy said.

One of the ministry's priorities is to have inflation controlled to stand at a reasonable level, Garhy said, affirming that "inflation is the number one enemy to the budget."

"Gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate is predicted to close at 5 percent and 5.25 percent by the end of FY 2017/18, after closing at 5 percent during the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year," the minister said.

Garhy expected a good level of foreign direct investments (FDI) to be seen in the coming period in Egypt.

The minister highlighted that the execution of the New Investment Law on the ground is more important.

"We witnessed mistakes between 2002 and 2010 as we had a lot of investment in high-energy consumption projects rather than labor-intensive projects," Garhy added.

The minister highlighted that the government is more than willing to eliminate restrictions for FDI in education and healthcare sectors and make the industrial base bigger.

Talking about the financial inclusion, Garhy said that there are efforts to make a larger number of people financially included.

Listing the progress that has happened so far, the minister said that the budget will be automated by fiscal year 2017/18, in addition, the wages and pension system is currently being operated by cards.

The policy's priorities in the coming period will include continuing in the trend of slashing the budget deficit, debt level and the primary deficit, Garhy concluded.
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9/18/2017 4:58:09 PM
<![CDATA[Bankers flag inflation as Egypt’s main challenge ]]>
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Euromoney Egypt Conference in Cairo which kicked off Monday, Bahaa said that the inflation rate will substantially decrease from November, “but it will still be difficult to reach that target,” he said.

CEO and managing director of state-owned investment bank NI Capital, Ashraf Ghazaly, said that despite being an ambitious target, it is reachable as the GDP growth is accelerating at a faster pace.

“The inflation rate will remain a challenge in front of the Egyptian government as the market is supply-led,” managing director of Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan at Citi, Andis Costopoulos said during the panel.

The interviewees also talked about the most needed reforms to bring the foreign direct investment (FDI) to higher levels. Ghazaly said that improving the business environment is the biggest challenge, “this can only be done if licenses were given at easier procedures on the ground, and the legislative reforms are implemented,” he said.

Sounding less ambitious, Costopoulos said that he was expecting a concrete state framework, “I’d like to see huge projects without the intervention of the government,” he said.

Bahaa, who is representing Egypt’s latest market addition in the banking sector [Attijariwafa], said that the whole global economy is slowing down now, affected by international changes in the political front.

“It is very difficult now to convince investors to enter a new market… even Gulf countries are now shifting from their oil-focused economy to diversify their revenues,” he said.

Bahaa said his bank has entered the Egyptian market because it has seen a growth potential in the country. Attijariwafa’s expansion to Egypt is considered the first step towards an expansionary plan across Africa.
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9/18/2017 4:38:06 PM
<![CDATA[Ministers, German amb. to inaugurate Egyptian- German conference]]>
The conference will tackle the role of technical education and vocational training in the economic and social development and how they contribute in increasing working capabilities as well as improving channels linking between the school phase and the labour market, according to a statement distributed by the German embassy in Cairo.

As well, the conference will review previous activities held in Egypt within the framework of the Egyptian-German cooperation in the fields of technical education and vocational training, the statement read.

The conference will be attended by more than 100 people including, decision makers, experts in technical education and vocational training, Egyptian and German representatives from the business sector and donors, along with civil society representatives, the statement added.]]>
9/18/2017 2:29:26 PM
<![CDATA[Fiscal gap is estimated at $10-12B in FY 2017/18: Garhy]]>
The government is planning to issue the euro bond at around $3-4 billion in the first quarter of the year 2018, added Garhy.

The two-day Euromoney Egypt Conference kicks off Monday in Cairo in its 22nd edition, with a focus on business sectors and opportunities created after the steps taken towards economic reform.

Entitled ‘Stability and Cohesion- Opportunities in Egypt’, the keynote speaker of today’s morning session is the newly-appointed chairman of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) Mohamed Farid.

Euromoney’s first day featured an interview with the Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy.

The first session focuses on financers and investors, with the interviewees including Co-CEO of CI Capital Hazem Badran, Co-CEO of Attijariwafa Bank Ismail Douiri, Mastercards’s president for Middle East and North Africa Khalid Elgibali and the Executive Director of the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF) Amal Enan.

The second session discusses government bonds, corporate finance, equity capital markets and initial public offerings (IPOs). Meanwhile, the third session will tackle the real estate sector in Egypt. ]]>
9/18/2017 2:24:36 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's exports to Nile basin countries reached LE 11,3B in 2016: CAPMAS]]>
This came in the annual bulletin titled "Trade exchange between Egypt and the Nile basin countries in 2016" which took up Egypt's exportation and importation with Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Eritrea.

In the bulletin issued on Monday, the CAPMAS further underlined that Egypt's imports from these countries hit LE3,9 billion in 2016 compared to LE 2,7 billion in 2015 with an increase of 43,5 percent.

The agency affirmed also that Sudan came in the first place pertaining to the most country that exported from Egypt as its exports reached EGP 5,6 billion in 2016 compared to LE 4,2 billion in 2015 with an increase of 33,9 percent.

Sudan exported from Egypt plastics, iron and sugar.

Kenya ranked first in the countries where Egypt imported goods from; the Egyptian imports from the African country hit three billion pounds in 2016.

The imports from Kenya included coffee, tea, spices and tobacco.]]>
9/18/2017 1:59:27 PM