<![CDATA[rss-Business & Economics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Business & Economics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Trade minister briefs Prime Minister on results of Russia’s visit]]>
Qabil said he discussed with the Russian side boosting cooperation in various fields, especially in the economic domain and pouring more investments in the Egyptian market, citing the steps taken to establish a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

All production units of the first phase of the leather city in Robiki, Badr City, have been completely allocated, Qabil said.

Around 47 factories have already started operation, he said, adding the operative factories are expected to rise to 70 by the end of 2018.

Concerning the Damietta Furniture City, the minister said the progress in utility works hit 70 percent, and up to 250 workshops were ready now.

Talks covered plans for revamping the Cairo International Conference Center in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City and developing the area in its vicinity.

The meeting also took up studies on the pros and cons of the new automotive legislation and its effect on the domestic auto industry. ]]>
5/26/2018 4:35:22 PM
<![CDATA[Public business sector minister reviews restructuring plan of Cotton & Textile Holding Company]]>
Badawi said the kick-start in the restructuring plan lies in cotton cultivation, stressing the importance of coordination with the Agriculture Ministry on this regard.

The minister directed the board to work on administrative improvements and merge subsidiaries that carry out similar operations, while preserving the worker’s rights and honing their skills through efficient training programs.

He also reviewed a plan for using the unutilized assets in financing the development plan and repaying debts.]]>
5/26/2018 2:40:03 PM
<![CDATA[Transport min., EIB delegation probe coop. in transport]]>
The Transport Ministry prioritizes Metro and developing its Line 1 that carries nearly 1.5 million passengers daily, Arafat said during a meeting with the delegation, noting that the revamp is set to be carried out through two stages; the first is upgrading infrastructure and signals, while the second aimed at renovating movable units.

The EIB expressed eagerness to offer Euro 380 million for renovating the Metro Line 1 as well as rehabilitating Metro Line 2, minister Arafat added.

The meeting tackled progress achieved at phase three of Metro Line 3, which is bankrolled by the bank with Euros 600 million.

As for Alexandria's al Raml tram, Arafat said the bank will allocate Euros 180 million for the project.

A consultant will be picked for the project from three global consulting offices that offered bids, the minister said, pointing out to the significance of the project as one of Alexandria's key means of transportation.

Meanwhile, minister Arafat reviewed aspects of cooperation with the bank in the railway and port sectors.

Attending the meeting were senior officials from the Ministry of Transport, the National Authority For Tunnels and Alexandria Port.

The EIB is the European Union's bank. It is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States.]]>
5/26/2018 1:17:22 PM
<![CDATA[In depth: A look at the beauty industry in Egypt, globally]]>
A look back

Estimated at $444 billion in 2016, the global value for the overall beauty industry has seen more and more players joining the field in the past decade, many of whom have recently been pegged by research as game-changers, after they have influenced more and more men and women to use organic, free-from, cruel-free products.

Since the industrialization of the beauty industry in the early 20th century, according to Statista, the production and sale of cosmetics has been controlled by a mere handful of corporations, led by L’Oreal. Combined, the top 14 players in the field, all of which are multi-national, were estimated to make $130 billion in revenues for the financial year 2015/2016. Albeit records are not available to confirm the exact amount they made, an annual growth of four percent recorded for the year 2016, according to Statista, suggests that this estimation was surpassed. The global cosmetics industry is broken down into six main categories, namely, skincare, hair care, make-up, perfumes, toiletries and deodorants and oral cosmetics (oral products that maintain good oral hygiene and freshen the breath), leaving plenty of opportunities for companies from emerging markets to enter the industry.

Although multiple research and overall statistics suggest that the past 50 years has seen an overall increase in the purchase of products, with the beauty and cosmetics market estimated to generate $445 billion in global annual sales in 2018, the global financial crisis of 2008, according to “The Beauty Economy Outlook for 2018,” published by Custom Direct Promotions (CDP), has led many to shift away from premium products and toward mass products. Brands like Givenchy and Christian Dior lost ground to brands like L’Oreal and Inglot, which have enjoyed significant growth since then. In fact, L’Oreal’s Communications Manager in Egypt, Nahla Mokhtar, told Egypt Today that L’Oreal’s mission is to have 1 billion new customers globally by 2020.

After the 2008 crisis, the non-necessity sector really took a hit, leaving annual growth at a mere 1% in 2009. Despite the next year seeing a growth of 4.2 percent and 2011 and 2012 both witnessing an annual growth of 4.6 percent, the market once again took a hit with the rise of do-it-yourself treatments spread through social media, which have caused “seismic disruption as cultural ideals of beauty and diversity change,” according to “The Beauty Economy Outlook for 2018.” The report also finds that social media was also able to increase women and men’s interest in taking care of the way they look, leading them to focus more on their health and maintaining their natural glow. As a result, the report suggests that skincare will be the most profitable product category for the next few years. Likewise, according to a report published in May 2017 by Euromonitor International, a market research provider, social media and beauty bloggers have become “the key drivers of consumers’ preferences as they present the latest trends and offers from different sources and companies that may suit many consumers’ needs.”

Similarly Statista’s analysis suggests that skincare is set to remain the most profitable product category, projecting an annual growth of $20.1 billion between 2014 and 2019. Skincare has already had many great years, topping the global sales for a number of years now; in 2016, skincare accounted for 36.1 percent of the global market. Confirming this is the fourth quarter statement for the beauty and personal care industry, released by Euromonitor International in December 2017, which suggests that “Skincare experienced the most significant upgrade compared to baseline forecasts,” an achievement that they attributed to Brazil, Japan and key Western European countries, the main upgraders in the industry, gross domestic product (GDP) and product pricing.

In 2016 and 2017, the industry made a comeback, reaching a 10-year high of five percent annual growth, suggesting an even higher annual growth in 2018, according to Statista. Expectations, based on multiple research, suggest a 5-6 percent increase in 2018, and many researchers expect emerging markets to have a key role in the development of the industry.

Local products take the market

In a market strained by currency float, subsidy reduction, increasing customs (60 percent custom duty on cosmetics) and cost hikes due to increasing rents, salaries and more, and as prices of imported goods have more than doubled, consumers have had to cut back drastically on their use of luxury cosmetic products, especially since most are either imported or largely dependent on imported raw materials. Financial stress, coupled with the rise of Generation Y, which according to multiple research, are more concerned about the way they looks than any other generation that came before it, have left many looking for cheaper alternatives to imported cosmetic products. Now, it seems, is the optimum time for Egyptian companies like Eva, Luna and Amanda to increasingly penetrate the market.

“Egyptian pound flotation and the 60 percent increase in customs on cosmetics, which are considered luxury goods, led to prices of all cosmetic products and beauty services doubling,” Mahmoud el-Degwy, Head of Hairdressers Division at Cairo Chamber of Commerce, previously told Egypt Today. Degwy also commented on the opportunities available to local brands in the Egyptian market, suggesting that a decline in cosmetic products imported in 2017 has left local players at an advantage. “The percentage of customers who purchase beauty products decreased this year by 40 percent. Last year, Egypt imported cosmetics worth LE 5 billion ($275 million), this year the percentage has decreased to LE 3 billion due to the difficulties and challenges importers face, so the profits decreased by more than 50 percent.”

Local players who do not import their raw materials, meaning they are not subject to the decision issued by the Ministry of Health on March 22, 2017, stipulating that cosmetic-producing companies should pay LE 50,000 annually for each type of raw material imported, have a great advantage over international or multi-national brands. To help local players grow, Dewegy hopes that the government will ease regulations and procedures to facilitate production processes and cycles for Egyptian brands, especially smaller ones looking to grow. “We [Hairdressers Division at Cairo Chamber of Commerce] want the government to facilitate all possible procedures for Egyptian companies so we can overcome this crisis—they should not place more obstacles in front of investors looking to build more cosmetics companies in Egypt,” suggest Dewegy.

An article in Cosmetics Business, penned by Paul Cochrane, however, suggests that Egypt’s cosmetics market has actually “maintained steady growth over the past year [2017] despite the downturn in the economy, the depreciation of the Egyptian pound and some serious regulatory challenges.” With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting Egypt’s economy to grow 4.5 percent in the fiscal year 2017/18, Cochrane expects that there is much room for the beauty industry to bloom and grow. In fact, research carried out by Euromonitor International suggests that the market actually grew by 18 percent year-on-year, in value terms, in 2016, totaling LE 1.6 billion ($90.5 million at the time). The study suggests that the positive performance of lip products, most notably, lipsticks, and brands growing ability to tailor their products and their adverts to attract more customers, especially those under 15 years of age, whom constitute 31.3 percent of the Egyptian population, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, has significantly increased their sales.

An older Euromonitor International published in 2013 had suggested that although the Egyptian economy is unstable, investing in the cosmetic industry guarantees long-term gains. As people limit their purchases due to financial difficulties, the report had argued, the volume of sales for many companies will decline alongside the declining demand. Despite “a mounting divide between demand for premium and mass products” and consumers becoming more “careful about spending,” the report concluded that due to significant price increases, growth in current value terms will continue, even as volumes sales growth rates lag.

In its 2018 Market Overview, Egy Beauty Expo suggests that the expansion of local manufacturing has strengthened the cosmetic sector, attracting more investors and tailoring to more consumers than before. Although the industry is far from failing, the Expo’s overview suggests, “fixing Egypt’s pharmaceutical pricing policy would help in increasing growth for the next five years for cosmetics, making generic cosmetics a better alternative for Egyptians who will be able to sell at more reasonable prices compared to international brands.” Still, the Expo suggests that there is increasing interest in investing in this sector in the Egyptian economy, highlighting the great opportunities available in the industry.

Commenting on this, Noha Lewis, Luna Brand Manager, previously told Egypt Today that they are welcoming new customers every day due to a rising inclination toward good-quality, cheaper products, as opposed to the more expensive ones. “Surprisingly, A and B classes who don’t suffer from a financial crisis tend to purchase our products these days. This explains people wanting to save more money as the crisis has also led to price increases on other goods, including food and transport,” Lewis explains.

Likewise, Reem Adel, Amanda Brand Manager, suggests that although price hikes have led to new customers choosing Amanda, there has not been an increase in their consumer base. In other words, Adel claims that those who have chosen to opt for Amanda due to its more suitable prices are balanced out by the number of customers who had to abandon Amanda’s products as they were no longer able to afford their prices. “It is a stable status,” Adel says. “We are forced to reduce the profits to cope with the market conditions as we can’t afford to bring down product quality.”

A report by Allied Market Research, market research provider, looking at global opportunity analysis and industry forecasts in Egypt between the years 2017 and 2023 seconds those suggesting that Egypt’s cosmetic market is experiencing growth driven by changes in lifestyle and increased demand for appearance enhancement. The report further suggests that there is a rising trend, led by social media platforms and the exposure of more herbal-based remedies and products, to use herbal cosmetics. Individuals who have sensitive skin or chemical-shunners are joining the consumer base of the industry due to this change, meaning that the consumer base is not simply growing in conjunction with population growth but also with the development of new products. Not to mention the growing halal cosmetics market that many Muslims have opted for. The global halal cosmetics market size was valued at $16.32 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

In line with this, Irina Barbalova, manager of the research program for the global cosmetics and toiletries industry at Euromonitor International, confirmed to Cosmetics Design-Europe, “The needs, values and expectations of beauty consumers in 2018 will continue to evolve in tandem with behavioral shifts steaming from more health-conscious lifestyles, ethical consumerism, digital connectivity as well as more authentic brand experience.” The industry-expert further explained that “heritage brands” have to step up their game if they wish to stay relevant and contemporary.

5/26/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[OPEC, Russia prepared to raise oil output under U.S. pressure]]>
Riyadh and Moscow are prepared to ease output cuts to calm consumer worries about supply adequacy, their energy ministers said on Friday. Saudi Arabia's Khalid al-Falih and Russia's Alexander Novak both said any such move would be gradual.

Raising production would ease 17 months of strict supply curbs amid concerns that a price rally has gone too far, with oil having hit its highest since late 2014 at $80.50 a barrel this month.

OPEC began a discussion about easing production cuts following a critical tweet from Trump, OPEC's Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said. Trump tweeted last month that OPEC had "artificially" boosted oil prices.

"We pride ourselves as friends of the United States," Barkindo told a panel with the Saudi and Russian energy ministers in St. Petersburg at Russia's main economic forum.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia have agreed to curb output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) through 2018 to reduce global stocks, but the inventory overhang is now near OPEC's target.

In April, pact participants cut production by 52 percent more than required, with falling output from crisis-hit Venezuela helping OPEC deliver a bigger reduction than intended.

Sources familiar with the matter said a rise of about 1 million bpd would mean compliance would be at about 100 percent of the agreed level, rather than exceed it.

Barkindo also said it was not unusual for the United States to put pressure on OPEC as some U.S. energy secretaries had asked the producer group to help lower prices in the past.

Oil prices fell more than 3 percent towards $76 a barrel on Friday as Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were ready to ease supply curbs.


Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said current cuts were in reality 2.7 million bpd due to a drop in Venezuelan production - somewhere around 1 million bpd higher than the initially agreed reductions.

Novak did not say whether OPEC and Russia would decide to boost output by 1 million bpd at their June meeting. But he said an agreement of a gradual easing was the likely outcome.

"Different options will be put forward. But, it is likely that this will be a gradual easing," Novak said in comments published on the Russian energy ministry website.

Initial talks are being led by the energy ministers of OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Russia at St. Petersburg this week along with their counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, which holds the OPEC presidency this year, the sources said.

OPEC and non-OPEC ministers meet in Vienna on June 22-23, and the final decision will be taken there.

Current discussions are aimed at relaxing record-high compliance with the production cuts, the sources said, in an effort to cool the market after oil hit $80 a barrel on concerns over a supply shortage.

China has also raised concerns about whether enough oil is being pumped, according to a Saudi statement issued after Energy Minister Falih called China's energy chief on Friday to discuss cooperation and to review the oil market.

Nur Bekri, administrator of China's National Energy Administration, told Falih he hoped Saudi Arabia "can take further substantial actions to guarantee adequate supply" in the crude oil market, the Saudi Energy Ministry statement said.

While Russia and OPEC benefit from higher oil prices, up almost 20 percent since the end of last year, their voluntary output cuts have opened the door to other producers, such as the U.S. shale sector, to ramp up production and gain market share.

A final production number is not set yet as dividing up the extra barrels among participants in the oil deal on cutting supply could be tricky, the sources said.

"The talks now are to bring compliance down to the 100 percent level, more for OPEC rather than for non-OPEC," one source said.


OPEC may decide to raise oil output as soon as June due to worries over Iranian and Venezuelan supply and after Washington raised concerns the oil rally was going too far, OPEC and oil industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

However, it is unclear which countries have the capacity to raise output and fill any supply gap other than Gulf oil producers, led by Saudi Arabia, and Russia, the sources said.

"Only a few members have the capability to increase production, so implementation will be complicated," one OPEC source said.

So far, OPEC had said it saw no need to ease output restrictions despite concerns among consuming nations.

The rapid decline in oil inventories and worries about supplies after the U.S. decision to withdraw from the international nuclear deal with Iran, as well as Venezuela’s collapsing output, were behind the change in OPEC's thinking.]]>
5/26/2018 10:46:06 AM
<![CDATA[Analysis: Is now the time to invest in Facebook?]]>

Sell-off…or opportunity on the doorstep

By April 10, Facebook stocks were down by more than 20 percent from their all-time high of $190.61 on February 5, 2018; the dip is an unprecedented one for the social media giant. The shares went down 16.1 percent in March and 9.4 percent in the last week of March alone. The sharp decline in Facebook’s stock value left market analysts scrambling to fix their end-of-year price target on Facebook, with many of the bigger names opting to decrease their target.

Late March, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Facebook’s data privacy practices are under a non-public investigation. In May, Europe is expected to implement the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for data user consent. As a result, some analytical companies now fear a drawback from the use of Facebook or limitations over its data collection, which would result in less accurate adverts, meaning less revenues.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, cut his end-of-year price target to $200 from $230 on April 4. Despite keeping his overall rating of the stock, Nowak’s short-term view of the stock became somewhat more conservative, expecting a lower forecast of 25 percent in ad-price increase this year, according to a research paper he published.

Similarly, Merrill Lynch Internet Analyst, and Managing Director since September 2004, Justin Post, called the recent developments “significant,” leading him to reduce his 12-month price target to $210 from $230 and $265. Despite still expecting a 31 percent upside on the stock, the analyst pointed out in a research note obtained by CNBC on March 27 the grave consequences that could arise if the #DeleteFacebook campaign, which he admits has not caught on yet, persists. After the analyst’s call, Facebook shares fell 4.9 percent.

The issue with the scandal, for both analysts, is the risk it poses on Facebook’s ability to collect data to create the best advert experience for Facebook users and companies, who essentially buy into the marketing tool for its ability to precisely predict who would be interested in buying which product; basically, Facebook’s ability to outline customer behaviour. The recent developments raises “the risk of civil penalties on data privacy violations, and if history serves, could take multiple years to resolve,” Post told clients in the note obtained by CNBC. “We [Merrill Lynch] believe the key questions at hand are: was Facebook transparent in data usage, and did Facebook properly notify users of policy violations.” The answer to Post’s question, as per Zuckerberg’s statements during the congressional hearing is yes. Still, Zuckerberg does admit during his opening statement of said hearing that Facebook “didn’t take a broad enough view of our [Facebook’s] responsibility [in protecting users’ data,” a mistake he goes on to apologize for.

However, not all stock analysts predict this downfall for Facebook. JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth published a report in December 16, 2017 on the benefits of investing in Facebook, forecasting a $225 price target, entailing a 25 percent upside. After the influx of negative headlines, Anmuth held his ground, explaining, “Despite these negative headlines and increased concerns around user data and regulatory risk, we do not believe Facebook’s business is currently being impacted.”

Likewise, Ehab Saed, Director of the Technical Analysis Division of Osool Securities Brokerage, tells Egypt Today, “Over the past month or so, we have seen Facebook suffer great losses due to a sharp decline in its stock. This has come too quickly for there not to be a stock correction, as a result, I expect that there will be ups and downs over the next period, perhaps for the next three months.” Saed adds that the scandal is expected to have an effect on Facebook, but he sees this to be a short-term effect. Short-term gains are expected to be dismal but long-term gains are guaranteed, according to Saed.

Supporting Saed’s view, Chartered Financial Analyst Andres Cardenal argues in an investment note published on Seeking Alpha, “even if regulatory scrutiny on Facebook increases, chances are that this won’t de-rail the company from its long-term trajectory.” The pull-back from Facebook stocks and the calls by investors and advisors to sell, Cartadel suggests, should be seen as a buying opportunity for long-term investors.

Corrections in pricing are expected to keep occurring over the next few weeks, according to Saed. “We have seen the price of Facebook stocks go up over the past few days, however, this is a small-scale stock correction. Stock corrections are simply reverse movements that happen after a stock or bond has been overvalued or undervalued,” says Saed. The short-term correction is expected to last between three weeks and three months; the decline happened over a short time period and so a rebound is needed, explained Saed. Right now, analysts may be hung up and unsure about predictions, at least from a short-term viewpoint. However, as a long-term investment, Facebook shares provide a good opportunity, according to several analysts.

Saed predicts that stocks will not reach $230 by the end of the year. “Stock analysts have predicted a $230 closing for this year [2018], I expect that it will not close at $230, that is quite high looking at the recent scandal. Still, long-term predictions are positive for Facebook, its general trajectory is up and it is stable. This means that it is not expected to fall and not get back up. In the long-run, it is stable and a good opportunity for investors; it will get better.” Saed adds that the most important metric for Facebook is the number of users and the prospects for their increase, both of which lead us to expect a continuation of Facebook’s positive trends.

No alternative to Facebook

In a sharp line of questioning, Senator Lindsey Graham asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his congressional hearing if Facebook has a monopoly on the kind of service it provides for its more than 2 billion users. Zuckerberg’s categorization illustrated that by dabbling its feet in two “categories,” as Zuckerberg termed them, and down-right owning the third (as a social media platform), it has largely limited competition in the field.

“If I buy a Ford and it doesn’t work well and I don’t like it, I can buy a Chevy,” Graham asked during the April 10 hearing. “If I’m upset with Facebook, what’s the equivalent product that I can go sign up for?” Zuckerberg had no reply. From Zuckerberg’s manner, body language and rare uncertainty while answering the question, it seems that the answer is that there is no alternative to Facebook, at least not for the time being.

Similarly, a number of market analysts have discussed the limited competition in the sector, indicating that this lack of competition makes it more difficult for Facebook to go under. In a paper published in April on Seeking Alpha, Catalyst Ideas explained that Facebook’s acquisition of the key social networks has “increased barriers for competition.” Through adding Instagram and WhatsApp to Facebook, “the company has future-proofed its business and concerns about lower usage among teens have been quelled,” the report explains. Right now, Zuckerberg is in control of three of the top 10 social media platforms used worldwide, Facebook landing first place, WhatsApp third, Facebook Messenger fourth place and Instagram seventh place, according to Statista’s list of most famous social network sites worldwide as of January 2018, ranked by number of active users.

This ranking has pushed many market analysts to hold the view that users will not abandon Facebook, especially given its ability to tailor to people’s needs and interests, as well as its recent branching out into e-commerce. In line with this, developed markets (D.M.) researcher Daniel Martins of D.M. Martins Research writes in his article titled Facebook: The Sky is not Falling, “a bet against Facebook is one against social media itself.” Martins suggests that despite Facebook being under scrutiny right now, the social network has an ability to reinvent and alter itself better than other social media platforms. “Despite commendable efforts from underdogs Twitter (TWTR) and Snap Inc.'s (SNAP) Snapchat, I still view Facebook, and its ‘side platforms’ Instagram and WhatsApp, as the leader in social media not only now, but also in the foreseeable future,” Martin writes.

Furthermore, despite Post arguing that the #DeleteFacebook trend’s effect is still “unclear as to how many users actually are walking away,” an exclusive research paper by social data mining firm LikeFolio argues that the #DeleteFacebook campaign is simply a flash-in-the-pan, concluding that the recent Facebook sell-out is overblown. “We see no indication that Facebook will lose any meaningful number of users or engagement from this scandal, and believe the near 20 percent sell-off in $FB [Facebook] shares is a long-term opportunity for investors,” LikeFolio concludes. Investors, like Robert Riesen, a stock researcher and investor, also seem to agree that users are unlikely to abandon Facebook.

As a social network, especially one with a business model like that of Facebook that is set on taking over online advertising by knowing how to tailor adverts according to demographics and socio-economic backgrounds, the most important metric is the number of users on Facebook. Much like Bitcoin, Facebook follows Metcalfe’s Law, stating that a network’s value is proportional to the amount of users on it. Without users, there are no connections to make up the network, no content being generated and no one to advertise to, meaning no advertising revenue. Thus, when looking at whether one should invest in Facebook right now, it is important to ask about the Monthly Active Users (MAU), which has been steadily accelerating over the past few years, according to social media analysts and Statista.

To sustain this steady acceleration of MAU, Facebook must look into expanding more in emerging markets and outside the West. In Africa, for example, Facebook has enjoyed about 42 percent growth rate for a number of years now, according to Forbes. As it stands, seven out of 10 internet users in Africa use Facebook. This has been accelerated through Facebook hot balloons and drones equipped with free internet, according to an article by
MIT Technology Review
’s Tom Simonite. The internet connection Facebook offers through its internet-offering devices ensures that users only access Facebook’s version of the internet, guaranteeing that new users sign up on a daily basis, according to emerge85, a research partnership between the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the UAE-based Delma Institute. Thus, it is clear that a business plan so precise, and so invested in new and innovative ideas, is set on its way and will not be affected by such a scandal. The success of Facebook’s plan is apparent, given Facebook’s profit growth averaging an 89% year-over-year increase for the past five years.

Facebook is not going under

Despite tech giants using this opportunity to throw Facebook under the bus, as Apple (AAPL) has when it alleged that its data protection practices are far more user-friendly than Facebook’s, the social media company seems to still be holding strong. Speaking at the WSJ's CEO Council in London on April 12, Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s Vice-President of global marketing solutions, says users aren't changing their privacy settings. “We have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying ‘I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore.’” Everson adds that tougher regulations are not expected to result in major changed to Facebook’s overall revenue and business model, but that expenses will increase as the company hires more people to monitor abuse.

Research suggests that the number of users in North America, the region where Facebook has faced the most backlash, only represents a small fraction of the platform’s global user base. In fact, data suggest that the increase in MAU has stagnated over the past couple of years. As a result, Valentum analysis, a Global Equity Fund managed by Gesiuris Asset Management that offers investment opportunities based on value and momentum, suggests that even if users were to decrease in the US and Canada, the strong growth in Asia and other countries would offset this decrease.

Going a step further, IDC calculates that only about 46 percent of people globally have access to the internet, meaning that Facebook has much room for expansion in emerging markets. Given that this percentage increases by about four percent annually, according to IDC’s calculations, it becomes clear, as Valentum has pointed out, that MAU is set to continue experiencing strong growth. This is also likely the case if we put into account that the majority of Facebook users use smartphones and that the number of smartphone users are growing worldwide, especially since cheaper smartphones are becoming more available.

Perhaps, the question then becomes: Are adverts outside Western countries, given the strength of the US Dollar against other currencies, enough to ensure that Facebook keeps profiting? Perhaps if we only consider the currency rates, the answer will be no. However, given that there is plenty of room for growth in emerging markets, the number of people in other countries is enough to offset North America and Europe’s retreat from Facebook. This is a retreat that, as many researchers have shown, is unlikely; especially since Facebook offers a platform that is arguably unparalleled by other social media platforms.

While Facebook has a strong hold globally relative to other social media platforms, WhatsApp has a significant market presence in countries where Facebook isn’t very popular, according to a cross-country research carried out by Catalyst Ideas. Instagram is growing at about 30-40 percent year-over-year; Instagram’s revenues compromised about 26 percent of total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017. Privacy has always been a concern for companies in the internet era, and Zuckerberg’s willingness to own up to the company’s mistakes so quickly somewhat guarantees the company’s continued success.

So, what’s the verdict?

They say, the charts know more than the numbers; with such a strong performance trajectory, this may be the case with Facebook. With a positive trend and a strong business model, strong competitive advantages, a strong performance trajectory, a healthy balance sheet and strong free cash flow generation, it is difficult to imagine that Facebook will not get back up on its feet. Anybody who followed the General Electric (GE) news would tell you to stay away from “falling knives,” however, in Facebook’s case, analysts are overwhelmingly advising investors not to wait until the dust settles and buy. After all, as Valentum points out, it is rare to find a company with Facebook’s competitive moat on sale.

Equifax, Yahoo, and many others have faced financial struggles related to data breaches. However, relative to their situation prior to their scandals, the two companies recovered well. While Equifax is still struggling, it is important to remember that Facebook’s advantages in the market surpass those of Equifax. Yahoo, on the other hand, was sold with a discount; however, this discount was related to other issues that the company had been facing.

Since its IPO in 2012, Facebook has had a great run. It gained 490 percent over the past five years. Last year, Facebook’s stock went up 9 percent, at the same time, Facebook surpassed $40 billion in revenues, $15 billion of which were net income. Revenues from adverts grew by 49 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook surpassed Thomas Reuters’ expected EPS of $1.95 and revenue of $12.55 billion, reaching an EPS of $2.21 and revenue of $12.97 billion. Crunching the numbers, Facebook, at least prior to the scandal, provided a watertight investment opportunity for stockholders, and, as analysts would argue, it still does after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, just not in the short term. As Riesen pointed out in his analysis of the scandal, “Facebook is undergoing a public relations crisis, not a performance crisis,” meaning that people will soon forget, especially given the lack of an alternative platform.

]]>5/26/2018 10:41:14 AM<![CDATA[Great chances for Russian companies in Russia's industrial zone - Qabil]]>
Qabil made the remarks during an expanded meeting with 60 mega Russian companies interested in pumping investments into the Russian industrial zone.

The meeting reviewed investment opportunities in the zone as well as investment incentives offered by the Egyptian government under the new investment law.

Investment in the Egyptian market provides access to a market comprising nearly of 1.8 billion people, thanks to the trade agreements signed between Egypt and the world's greatest economic blocs, Qabil said in a statement.

Investment projects set to be established in the zone meet the demands of the Egyptian market and other markets, the minister noted, adding that the project will contribute to creating thousands of job opportunities.

He went on to say that the Russian investments in Egypt stand at $66.5 million in the sectors of tourism, construction, and services, while Egypt's investments in the European country reach $9 million in the domains of exportation, importation and real estate development. ]]>
5/25/2018 5:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s vegetables, fruit exports rise to 2.8M tons]]>
There has been a remarkable rise in Egypt's citrus and potato exports, where exported citrus fruits totaled about 1.19 million tons, while exported potatoes totaled about 672,000 tons. Egypt's exports of other crops like onions, beans, strawberries, cucumber, eggplant, pepper, pomegranate, mango, and grapes also increased, the report added.

Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Abdel Moneim El-Banna said that the increase in Egyptian agricultural exports abroad is due to the recent efforts exerted by the ministry to ensure the safety and quality of Egyptian agricultural crops as a whole, whether for domestic consumption or for export abroad. He added that the agricultural measures taken to ensure the quality of Egyptian agricultural crops in order to preserve the reputation of Egyptian agriculture internationally and increase their exportability also contributed in the increase of their exports.

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on Egyptian guava in 2 months

CAIRO - 7 April 2018: Saudi Arabia is expected to lift its ban on Egyptian fresh guava in two-month time, Head of the Agriculture Export Council Abdel Hamid el-Demerdash said Saturday. He said he expects the ban to be lifted by the end of May, saying that negotiations are underway with Saudi Arabia over the issue.

Egypt has succeeded in opening new markets for agricultural crops abroad in a large number of countries, especially in China, the European Union and East Asian countries. That is in addition to the success in lifting the ban on Egyptian agricultural exports in some countries, which confirmed the safety of Egyptian procedures and the quality of their agricultural crops, El-Banna added.

Agricultural exports increased to $1.345B over past 7 months

CAIRO - 24 May 2018: The Agriculture Export Council (AEC) said that the volume of agricultural exports increased by 2 percent to register $1.345 billion over the past seven months (from September 2017 to March 2018), against $1.312 billion during the same period of the 2016-2017 season.

The Agriculture Export Council (AEC) said on Thursday that the volume of agricultural exports increased by 2 percent to register $1.345 billion over the past seven months (from September 2017 to March 2018), compared to $1.312 billion during the same period of the 2016-2017 season.

The council said in its monthly report on Thursday that the quantities exported over the past seven months upped by 13 percent to reach 2.581 million tons compared to 2.293 million tons during the same period of the 2016-2017 season.

Egypt's exports of citrus fruits increased to reach $502 million during the 2017-2018 season, compared to $446 million dollars during the 2016-2017 season.

Fresh potatoes exports upped from $129 million to $141 million, according to the report. ]]>
5/25/2018 3:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's ready-made garment exports hit $511 mln in 2018 Q1]]>
The exports of the sector to the U.S. made an increase of 14 percent, during the Q1 of 2018, recording $247 million, against $216 million during the same period in 2017.

With an increase of 20 percent, Egypt's exports to Europe registered $173 million , compared with $144 million in 2017.

Egypt's garment exports to the African countries were up by 40 percent during Q1 of 2018 to reach $940,000.

On the other hand, garment exports to Arab countries retreated by 11 percent, recording $24 million, compared with $27 million in the Q1 of 2017.

The report added that the top countries interested in the Egyptian garment are the U.S., Turkey, Spain, Britain, North Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and the Netherlands.]]>
5/25/2018 2:33:19 PM
<![CDATA[EGX gains EGP 200 mln over past week]]>
In a weekly report, a copy of which was obtained by MENA on Friday, the EGX said the market capital increased to EGP 948.5 billion up from EGP 948.3 billion in the previous week.

The EGX 30 benchmark index slumped 1.44 percent to reach 16,634 points.

The broader EGX 70 index of the leading smaller and mid cap enterprises (SMEs) soared 0.72 percent to record 858 points.

The all-embracing EGX 100 index declined by 0.1 percent to stand at 2,179 points. ]]>
5/25/2018 12:31:11 PM
<![CDATA[OPEC, Russia discuss raising oil output by about 1 mln bpd]]>
Such an increase would bring compliance with agreed supply curbs down to 100 percent from April's level of around 152 percent, the sources said.

The initial talks are being led by the energy ministers of OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Russia at St. Petersburg this week along with their counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, which holds the OPEC presidency this year, the sources said.

OPEC and non-OPEC ministers meet next in Vienna on June 22-23, and the final decision will be taken there.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers led by Russia have agreed to curb output by about 1.8 million bpd until the end of 2018 to reduce global stocks, but the inventory overhang is now near OPEC's target.

The current discussions are aimed at relaxing record-high compliance with the production cuts, the sources said, in an effort to cool the market after oil hit $80 a barrel on concerns over a supply shortage.

While Russia and OPEC benefit from higher oil prices, up almost 20 percent since the end of last year, their voluntary output cuts have opened the door to other producers, such as the U.S. shale sector, to ramp up production and gain market share.

The final production number is not set yet as dividing up the extra barrels among deal participants could be tricky, the sources said.

"The talks now are to bring compliance down to the 100 percent level, more for OPEC rather than for non-OPEC," one source said.


OPEC may decide to raise oil output as soon as June due to worries over Iranian and Venezuelan supply and after Washington raised concerns the oil rally was going too far, OPEC and oil industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

However, it is unclear which countries have the capacity to raise output and fill any supply gap other than Gulf oil producers, led by Saudi Arabia, and Russia, the sources said.

"Only a few members have the capability to increase production, so implementation will be complicated," one OPEC source said.

OPEC’s compliance with the output deal reached unprecedented levels in recent months, meaning it had cut well above target. Falling Venezuelan output due to an economic crisis has helped OPEC deliver a bigger cut than intended.

So far, OPEC had said it saw no need to ease output restrictions despite concerns among consuming nations that the price rally could undermine demand.

The rapid decline in oil inventories and worries about supplies after the U.S. decision to withdraw from the international nuclear deal with Iran, as well as Venezuela’s collapsing output, were behind the change in OPEC's thinking.

Concerns raised by the United States that oil prices were too high also made the exporting group start internal discussions, OPEC sources familiar with the matter have said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, whose country is a major oil producer but is not part of the supply-cutting pact, last month said OPEC had "artificially" boosted oil prices. ]]>
5/25/2018 10:47:16 AM
<![CDATA[Railways revenues increase to LE 168.6M in April]]>
On a month-on- month basis, the revenues decreased as they recorded LE 175.3 million in March.

CAPMAS said that train passengers recorded about 20.9 million in April 2018, compared to 21.3 million in April 2017 and 21.8 million in March 2018.

The amount of cargo transported through the railway in April reached 364,500 tons, compared to 433,600 tons in the same month of 2017 and 401,400 tons in March 2018.
The statement revealed that 165 rail accidents took place in April 2018.

By the end of fiscal year 2016/2017, Egyptian Railways Authority recorded an actual loss of LE 6.3 billion, compared to LE 4.3 billion estimated for the same year.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said earlier that Egypt’s rail lines require funds ranging from LE 200-250 billion to upgrade them.

Minister of Transport Hesham Arafat said that railway networks’ infrastructure has aged, especially its signaling systems and track, and that they require upgrading.

Arafat said that the ministry is exerting efforts to improve the basic rail infrastructure by constructing, investing and operating rail lines, but this needs a huge amount of money.

The Egyptian Railways Authority’s budget in fiscal year 2017/18 stood at LE 3 billion.
5/24/2018 8:25:32 PM
<![CDATA[Public companies’ debts to Petroleum Ministry exceed LE 12B]]>
The source said that the accumulation of these debts represents a major challenge for the oil sector because it affects the financial obligations of the sector, reflected in borrowing to provide petroleum products to the local market, ministries and the government.

In general, the total debt of the public sector companies to all parties amounts to LE 45 billion, of which LE 8 billion is for spinning and textile companies and about LE 21 billion for the National Investment Bank.

The total debt of public sector companies to gas and electricity organizations reached LE 15 billion to be paid at intervals of three to five years, after a down payment of 25 percent for electricity and 10 percent for gas was made, where adjustments will be paid through holding companies.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail held a meeting on Tuesday with ministers of petroleum, electricity, finance and public enterprises to discuss the debt of the public companies for electricity and petroleum ministries.

The meeting approved the payment of 10 percent of the debt by the Ministry of Public Business Sector through holding companies; the remaining amount will be paid within 60 months.

Minister of Public Enterprises Khaled Badwi said on Tuesday that public sector companies recorded a total profit of LE 8 billion during the first nine months of 2017.
5/24/2018 6:17:27 PM
<![CDATA[Iran staying within nuclear deal's restrictions - IAEA report]]>
In its first such report since President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal on May 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had complied with limits on the level to which it can enrich uranium, its stock of enriched uranium and other items.

It did, however, rebuke Iran for dragging its feet over so-called "complementary access" inspections under the IAEA's Additional Protocol, which Iran is implementing under the deal.

"The Agency ... has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit," the IAEA said in a confidential report that was sent to member states and seen by Reuters.

"Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access would facilitate implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhance confidence," it said.

The report came with France, Britain and Germany scrambling to salvage the deal's core bargain of sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on nuclear fuel production.

Trump is reimposing U.S. sanctions against Tehran, threatening to scupper the deal and prompt Iranian retaliation.

Trump sees various "flaws" in the deal, including that many of its restrictions lapse over time and that it does not address Iran's ballistic missile programme or its role in regional conflicts like the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Some Western companies like French oil giant Total have already said they may have to quit Iran because of the U.S. move. Senior officials from the other countries that signed the deal - France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran - are meeting in Vienna on Friday to discuss next steps.
5/24/2018 4:55:07 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's exports to Britain hit £202M sterling: chamber]]>
Egypt's imports from Britain decreased by 4.8 percent as they hit £257 million during the first quarter of 2018 compared to the corresponding period of 2018.

Britain's exports to the Middle East and North African countries went down by 14.5 percent to hit £5.12 billion in the first quarter of 2018.

The UK imports from these countries also decreased by 11 percent during the first quarter of 2018 to stand at £3.16 million .

Egypt is UK's sixth exporter in the Middle East and North Africa region. ]]>
5/24/2018 3:59:23 PM
<![CDATA[What the Russian Industrial Zone means for Egypt]]>
Egypt and Russia signed Wednesday an agreement for a $7 billion RIZ on Wednesday, according to a ministry statement. RIZ will be established in the East Port Said region.

During the signing ceremony, Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil explained that this 50-year agreement will give Russian companies rights to develop a 5.25 million square meter stretch of land in the Suez Canal Economic Zone into an industrial zone for Russian companies that will be built over three phases, giving them a solid, strategically-located base in Egypt to export to the rest of the Middle East and Africa.

Industrial projects and buildings will be built over a space of 2.8 million square meters, while the rest of the land will be used to build residential units as well as commercial and entrainment facilities for the zone’s staff. Stretching over 461 square kilometers, the zone extends through the three Suez Canal governorates of Suez, Port Said and Ismailia, and will include six maritime ports, to be completed by 2045.

Manufacturing air conditioners, motors, construction equipment, glass, ceramics, electronics, medical supplies and plastic are among the industries targeted by the RIZ.

Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Georgy Kalamanov said in July that the RIZ will act as a platform for Russian products to enter the Egyptian and African markets. “I see it as a hub. I believe it is a first stage in shaping basic platforms for spreading Russian goods in African countries, “ Kalamanov had announced.

Building on Kabil’s comments, Denis Manturov, Acting Minister of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, stated, “The signing of this agreement comes as a culmination of intensive discussions between the two ministries of industry and trade in the two countries over the past two years.”

RIZ is expected to give Russian companies an edge over other international companies, as it will be easier and less costly for them to export to the Region, meaning that their prices are likely to be more competitive on a global level; they will also take less time to arrive at the intended importing country and will leave less carbon footprints.

Development works of the first phase, involving 1 million square meters, will start this year and will be carried out by a Russian developer who will also work on attracting Russian investors and companies during 2018 and 2019. This phase will create 7,300 jobs in the construction field, decreasing unemployment rates in Egypt.

The second phase will develop 1.6 million square meters and will be finished by 2022, creating 10,000 jobs, while the third phase will develop 2.65 million square meters and generate 17,000 jobs, once again, decreasing unemployment rates in the region.

The three phase is expected to be finished by 2031, when Russian companies will start operations, providing some 35,000 direct and indirect jobs, the statement said.

The Egyptian and Russian sides have agreed to establish a company under the name of Moscow Economic Zone to be responsible for the zone’s operations and construction works. The project, which will be supervised by the two governments, will be funded by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and a number of Egyptian banks.

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Mohab Mamish said in the statement that the RIZ would help cover East Port Said’s needs for industries as well as the needs of the domestic market. He further added that the zone would serve as a gateway for Russian companies to European and African countries.

Mamish added that the land granted for the RIZ is on a usufruct basis and the condition for establishing projects and industrial complexes inside the Suez Canal Economic Zone is that 90 percent of the workforce is Egyptian. This would help the economic zone realize its target of creating 1 million jobs, according to the sustainable development strategy “Egypt Vision 2030,” Mamish said.

In October, Mamish announced that negotiations between Egypt and Russia on the industrial zone have been successful. Trade between Egypt and Russia increased to about $2.5 billion in the first seven months of 2017, from about $2.2 billion in the same period of 2016.

The project is part of ongoing efforts to encourage foreign and domestic investments in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, which is set to include an international logistics hub and areas for light, medium and heavy industry, as well as commercial and residential developments.

In statements to Sputnik news agency Wednesday prior to the signing of the agreements, Kabil said, “Post the signing today they will start developing the contract between a Russian developer who will manage the development of the area and the economic zone of the Suez Canal. So that contract will include the details of the construction and power required, very nitty-gritty details. So probably I would expect in the neighborhood of six months to finish the contract and the approval of the parliament. After that then the developer is free to start preparation.”

Kabil further pointed out that he had the chance of meeting some 60 Russian companies who are interested in investing in the RIZ, including some big companies like Kamaz. “Between the developer and the companies, there are many companies who said yes we are interested. The good thing is that they’ve already studied the Egyptian market, the export opportunities out of that particular area. So it would be premature for companies,” stated Kabil.

The Russian Investment Zone is expected to be the first of many other zones established around the Suez Canal, with negotiations on-going between the Egyptian government and their Chinese and Italian counterparts.

Business between Egypt and Russia

Registering an unprecedented $6.7 billion, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries increased by 62 percent in 2017, compared with the same time in 2016, according to Russian trade representative in Cairo Nikolai Aslanov. Russian exports to Egypt recorded $6.2 billion, while Russian imports from Egypt stood around $505 million, according to the Federal Customs Service of Russia.

Breaking down the trade exchange between the two countries: Egypt imported wheat (23 percent of total Russian exports to Egypt) and metals (11 percent of total Russian exports to Egypt), at a value of $1.4 billion and $703 million, respectively. Meanwhile, Egypt exported fruits worth $209 million to Russia, constituting 41 percent of total Egyptian exports to Russia; and vegetables worth $180 million, accounting for 36 percent of Egyptian exports to Russia.

Russia’s cumulative investments in Egypt totalled $4.6 billion by the end of December 2017, 60 percent of which went into petroleum and gas sectors. There has also been an increase of delegations between Egypt and Russia over the past two years, with 54 Russian delegations visiting Egypt in 2016, 80 Russian delegations visiting Egypt in 2017, and even more this year.

Total Russian investments in the Egyptian market are valued at about $62.8 million across 417 projects in various fields, according to the Trade Ministry.

On the expectations for the end of 2018, business and trade exchange between Egypt and Russia is expected to increase by some ten billion US Dollars, predicts Mikhail Orlov, Chairman of the Russia-Egyptian Business Council under the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Trade is growing dramatically…It was about six billion US dollars last year and is likely to be even more this year: I think we can make up to ten billion US dollars,” Orlov told TASS on the sidelines of the Kazan Summit international economic event.

According to Orlov, bilateral trade has a potential of reaching $25 billion. To achieve this, according to Orlov, Egypt and Russia need to work on simplifying procedures of mutual financing of projects, harmonize phytosanitary standards and remove administrative barriers in the pharmaceuticals sector, a sector that is seen as a huge potential for both countries.

Commenting on trade exchange between Egypt and Russia and the expected size of trade at the end of 2018, Kabil told Sputnik news, “2017 it [trade between Egypt and Russia] reached the highest level of trade, excluding the military since the Soviet Union. So there is a significant growth happening in 2017 and that growth continued in 2018. We believe it will be 2017, but again we cannot specifically tell because it is related all to private sector, other than wheat, which the government in many cases gets involved. The rest are purely private sector but the trend is very positive between the two and partially, part of the objective of this joint committee meeting is increase the growth level, increasing the trade growth level comes from many areas. Part of it comes from elimination of barriers like agriculture between both of us.”

In line with Orlov’s calls for barrier removal between the two economies, Kabil said, “That is one of the barriers. So eliminating barriers on the Russian side and on the Egyptian side improve the flow hence increase the trade level. The discussion about doing our b2b [Business to Business] businesses also help in increasing trade. So major part of the objective of this meeting is two things, increase investment, increase trade. Honestly both of them are linked together.”
5/24/2018 3:00:59 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends last session of week in red, market cap. loses LE 524M]]>
The benchmark EGX30 dropped 0.17 percent, or 28.58 points, to close at 16,633.97 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 slipped 0.44 percent, or 12.68 points, to reach 2,896.54 points.

The small and mid-cap index EGX70 decreased 0.50 percent, or 4.34 points, closing at 858.37 points, and the broader index EGX100 went down 0.45 percent, or 9.91 points, to close at 2,179.27 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 524 million, recording LE 948.58 billion, compared to LE 949.11 billion in Wednesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 112.73 million shares, traded through 18,200 transactions, with a turnover of LE 699.87 million.

Egyptian investors were net sellers at LE 60 million, while Arab and foreign investors were net buyers at LE 5.4 million and LE 54.58 million, respectively.

Egyptian and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 3.79 million and LE 8.75 million, respectively, while Arab individuals were net sellers at LE 3.63 million.

Arab and Foreign organizations bought at LE 9.05 million and LE 45.83 million, respectively, while Egyptian organizations sold at LE 63.79 million.

General Company For Land Reclamation, Development & Reconstruction, El Arabia Engineering Industries, and El Kahera Housing were top gainers of the session by 9.95 percent, 7.13 percent and 6.16 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, International Co For Investment & Development, El Arabia for Land Reclamation and EDRs Of Al Salam Holding Company were top losers of the session by 9.53 percent, 8.09 percent and 8.09 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Wednesday’s session in green, as the EGX30 edged up 0.03 percent, EGX50 upped 0.27 percent, EGX70 decreased 0.34 percent and EGX100 went up 0.01 percent.

Trading on the EGX during the holy month of Ramadan is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).
5/24/2018 2:55:57 PM
<![CDATA[52 ships transit Suez Canal]]>
The south-bound convoy included 31 vessels carrying two million tons, while the north-bound convoy included 21 ships laden with 1.4 million tons, according to statistics of the Suez Canal Authority.]]>
5/24/2018 1:47:27 PM
<![CDATA[Agricultural exports increased to $1.345B over past 7 months]]>
The council said in its monthly report on Thursday that the quantities exported over the past seven months upped by 13 percent to reach 2.581 million tons compared to 2.293 million tons during the same period of the 2016-2017 season.

Egypt's exports of citrus fruits increased to reach $502 million during the 2017-2018 season, compared to $446 million dollars during the 2016-2017 season.

Fresh potatoes exports upped from $129 million to $141 million , according to the report.

The quantities of Egypt's exports of fresh onions, pomegranate, tomatoes and dry beans also increased to 303,000 tons, 146,000 tons, 70,000 tons and 68,000 tons respectively, compared to 138,000 tons, 120,000 tons, 55,000 tons and 55,000 tons, the report added.

The top export destinations of Egypt are Saudi Arabia ($224 million), Russia ($216 million), the United Arab Emirates ($73 million), Netherlands ($64 million), Iraq ($54 million), the United Kingdom ($62 million), China ($47 million), Oman ($29 million), Kuwait ($32 million) and Lebanon ($29 million).]]>
5/24/2018 1:43:29 PM
<![CDATA[Orascom Development sells its stake in Tamweel Group]]>
Orascom clarified in a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) that this sale will enable the company to deconsolidate the related debt of Tamweel Group which reached LE 1.1 billion by the end of March 2018.

The statement added that the consortium who bought the stake includes Ebtikar for Financial Investment Company S.A.E (owned by MM Group for Industry and International Trade (MTI) S.A.E and BPE Holding for Financial Investments S.A.E.), TCV and Acquire.

The statement also said that EFG-Hermes Investment Banking was the financial advisor for Orascom Development on this transaction.

Orascom Development owns 87 percent of Tamweel Group.

In March, Orascom Development Egypt sold three hotels and a land plot for LE 882.6 million.

The company marked a 9 percent increase in its profits during the first quarter of 2018, recording LE 83.08 million, compared to LE 75.9 million.

Orascom Development Egypt is a public company, listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) since June 1998.

It operates within the consumer services sector focusing on hotels, resorts and cruise lines with 52 subsidiaries operating across Northern Africa, Middle East and southern Europe.

Orascom Development Egypt is based in Cairo, Egypt, and was established in December 1995.

For Tamweel Group: Tamweel Mortgage Finance Company, Tamweel Leasing Company, Tahseel for Collection and Call Center Services and Over Seas Insurance Brokerages.
5/24/2018 12:54:29 PM
<![CDATA[CBE issues LE 15.5B in T-bills Thursday]]>
The T-bills are to be offered in two installments, with the first valued at LE 7.55 billion with a 182-day term and the second worth LE 8 billion with a 364-day term.

T-bills are issued every Sunday and Thursday.

For the current fiscal year, the budget deficit is estimated to record LE 370 billion, planned by the ministry to be financed through treasury bills and bonds and through international and Arab loans.
5/24/2018 12:32:38 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Russia agree to remove hurdles to trade, investment]]>
Qabil made the remarks at the end of the 11th Egyptian-Russian committee that was held in Moscow over the past three days.

He said both sides at the meeting agreed to remove non-customs hurdles blocking trade exchange and set mechanisms to activate industrial cooperation.

The committee also tackled negotiations on the resumption of direct flights between Egypt and Russia, he added.

The two sides reiterated commitment to put into effect all understandings between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in December in Cairo.

They also welcomed the signing of a contract to set up the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal corridor.

They expressed appreciation over the growth of trade exchange between the two countries that hit 3.8 billion dollars last year.

Trade exchange between the two countries hit 1.6 billion dollars during the first quarter of 2018, up by 75 percent when compared to the corresponding period of 2017.

Qabil said the Russian side suggested creating a mechanism to enhance cooperation between Egyptian banks and their Russian counterparts to preserve information security.

The two sides agreed to make the best use of current investment opportunities in the agricultural, health, education, infrastructure and petroleum services domains.

They mulled the possibility of developing mechanisms of non-governmental financing of Egyptian-Russian projects.

The two sides expressed desire to maintain cooperation in the health domain, expand cooperation in the communications and information technology, develop irrigation plants and carry out joint geological projects for metals excavation.

The Egyptian side urged the Russians to take part in international tenders for oil and natural gas drilling in Egyptian lands.

The Russian side expressed desire to foster cooperation with the Egyptian side in setting up high-speed railway projects.

At the end, the Egyptian side expressed desire to hold joint committee meetings in the second half of 2018 to activate agreements signed in the maritime domain. ]]>
5/24/2018 12:32:02 PM
<![CDATA[Turkish lira weakens sharply]]>
The central bank raised its top interest rate to 16.5 percent from 13.5 percent at an extraordinary meeting prompted by the lira's relentless fall in recent weeks. It had depreciated as much as 23 percent so far this year before the bank's move.

Investors have hammered the currency on concerns about the central bank's ability to tame double-digit inflation, particularly after President Tayyip Erdogan -- a self-described "enemy of interest rates" -- said he expected to assert more policy control after June 24 elections.

After the initial bounce following the bank's move -- the currency swung from a 5 percent loss to a more than 2 percent gain -- investors now appear to be concerned whether the rate increase was enough to put the currency on a steady footing.

"It might prove insufficient to stabilise the currency, as concerns about monetary policy-making in the post-election period will remain ... given the President's vow to tighten his grip on economy policy," said Gokce Celik, chief economist at QNB Finansbank, in a note to clients.

The lira was at 4.6880 against the dollar at 0845 GMT, versus its close of 4.5900. It hit a record low of 4.9290 on Wednesday before the rate hike. It is now down some 19 percent year-to-date.

The yield on Turkish 10-year government bonds fell to its lowest since May 15. Dollar bonds rose, and the cost of insuring Turkish debt against default fell to a one-week low.


Some analysts pointed out that the bank, in Wednesday's statement, dropped its usual wording that "further monetary policy tightening will be delivered, if needed". That sowed some concern that it may not increase rates at its next scheduled policy meeting, on June 7.

"We will need to see some further tightening in the regular scheduled (monetary policy committee) meeting on June 7 as well," said Inan Demir, of Nomura International. "So that they can increase the real rate and go beyond catching up with inflation and actually move ahead of the curve."

Following the bank's move, Erdogan said "financial discipline will continue and the necessary things will be done for financial stability".

But he also said the currency's volatility did not reflect economic reality and, echoing his frequent references to foreign threats, warned that he would not let "global governance types" ruin the country.

Erdogan, an economic populist, wants to see lower borrowing rates to fuel credit growth and new construction. Investors, who fear the economy has overheated after a more than 7 percent expansion last year, want decisive rate hikes to cool inflation.

The president also said in his speech on Wednesday he would look to take action on inflation after the June 24 vote -- although he did not say concretely what that might be.

"We will definitely take measures to lower the inflation and current account deficit in a very different way after the elections," Erdogan said.]]>
5/24/2018 11:31:51 AM
<![CDATA[Investment ministry, CAPMAS sign protocol to facilitate investment]]>
In a statement Thursday, the ministry said the protocol signed with CAPMAS comes upon the directives of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to simplify investment procedures and follow up conditions of startups to improve investment process for local and foreign investors with the aim of improving the living conditions of citizens and curb the unemployment rate.

The statement added a work team of the ministry will work on conducting a survey on the problems and challenges the startups are facing.

For his part, Barakat said a team of CAPMAS will also conduct a survey on 18,700 companies founded between January to December 2017.]]>
5/24/2018 11:23:43 AM
<![CDATA[China's premier gives vote of confidence to euro currency, debt]]>
The euro is set to slump for a sixth consecutive week against the dollar - the longest weekly losing streak since January 2015 - hobbled by worries over an economic slowdown in the currency bloc.

The euro has also been hit by concerns that an incoming coalition Italian government will implement big-spending policies, adding to the country’s large debt.

“The euro is an important choice in our foreign currency reserves, and so we are continuing to buy European debt,” Li said.

“Even when certain European countries had sovereign debt crises, China kept the broader picture in mind.”

The premier said a strong euro benefits the Chinese yuan currency.

“We hope the euro can be strong and steady. We have a large amount of foreign reserves. We believe that foreign exchange reserves can’t just be put in one basket,” he said.

Li’s show of confidence in the euro came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China.

In a joint media appearance with Merkel at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Li said China and Germany both upheld global free trade, and stressed the huge potential for cooperation between them.

The euro traded slightly higher at around $1.1700 on Thursday after hitting a six-month low of $1.1676 on Wednesday on a rash of poorer-than-expected economic data out of Germany, France and the broader euro zone.]]>
5/24/2018 11:17:17 AM
<![CDATA[Sterling strengthens, stocks slip on upbeat retail sales]]>
The British currency extended gains to rise half a percent on the day at $1.3419 compared to $1.3385 earlier as retail sales volumes rose by 1.6 percent from March, well above the median forecast for a monthly 0.7 percent increase in a Reuters poll of economists.

Government bond futures extended losses by 15 ticks to hit 122.05, down 25 ticks on the day.

Britain’s FTSE 100 fell, and was down 0.1 percent after the better retail sales data boosted sterling, a negative for the index whose constituents mainly earn in foreign currencies.]]>
5/24/2018 11:14:33 AM
<![CDATA[Euro up on China support as dollar surge loses momentum]]>
The euro is set to slump for a sixth consecutive week against the dollar — the longest weekly losing streak since January 2015 — hobbled by worries over a deepening economic slowdown in the currency bloc.

On Thursday China’s Premier Li Keqiang said China was a long-term and responsible investor in the euro and hoped the currency would be strong and steady in spite of the occasional sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

The euro bounced back slightly to $1.1725 EUR=EBS after hitting a six-month low of $1.1676 on Wednesday but gains were capped by economic and political worries in Europe.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday gave political novice Giuseppe Conte a mandate to lead the first government in Italy made up of anti-establishment parties that have vowed to shake up the European Union.

The euro has unwound all of its rally against the Swiss franc since the Italian elections as the prospect of a spendthrift coalition government taking shape in Rome unnerves investors.

It fell to near three-month lows against the franc on Wednesday as fresh data indicated a slowdown in European business activity and cast a shadow over the timing of the central bank’s rate hike.

“It appears that the slowdown that we saw in Q1 across Europe may well be showing signs of spilling over into Q2 and may be symptomatic of a broader economic malaise,” said CMC Markets’ chief analyst Michael Hewson.

The dollar lost momentum after President Donald Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on imported cars and dovish-looking minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting.

While most policymakers thought it likely another interest rate increase would be warranted - in line with market expectations - the minutes showed the Fed would tolerate inflation rising above its goal for a time.

The dollar’s fall appeared to accelerate as Trump opened a new front in the trade war by considering new tariffs, this time on cars, just days after Washington agreed with China to put “on hold” its plan to impose tariffs on $150 billion worth Chinese goods.

But analysts cautioned against reading too much into the impact of trade policies on the greenback.

“Recent history has shown that the impact of US protectionist policies on FX markets has been fairly ambiguous – but we note that speculation tends to be dollar negative as the currency prices in some notion of a protectionist risk premium,” ING FX analyst Viraj Patel, said in a note.]]>
5/24/2018 11:12:27 AM
<![CDATA[General Electric's power unit fights for growth as wind, solar gain]]>
Instead, they are building large solar plants, which offer plentiful and inexpensive electricity.

This bearish view of fossil-fuel energy, reflective of a growing acceptance by utilities of renewable power sources, poses a hurdle to John Flannery’s plan to turn around General Electric Co’s $35 billion-a-year power unit.

GE’s chief executive spelled out the difficulty on Wednesday. Power profits will be flat this year after falling 53 percent in 2017, he said, and GE is planning that demand for heavy-duty natural gas power plants will be less than half what it forecast just over a year ago, and will stay at that level through 2020.

New plant sales are “going to be tough,” Flannery said at an investor conference on Wednesday. “This is not going to be a quick fix, but there is, at the end of the day, long-life assets here with intrinsic economic value. We’re going to make the most of what we have there.”

In the long run, Flannery and Russell Stokes, the head of GE Power, have said demand for electricity and natural gas power generators will grow about 2 percent a year - in line with global forecasts - as utilities make a gradual transition to renewable power.

Following a strategy he laid out in November, Flannery is cutting 12,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in costs at the unit. On Wednesday, he said GE has tripled some sales incentives in the power division and is competing aggressively for new contracts to maintain plants and to get the call when utilities need parts or repairs during an unexpected outage, something of which GE had lost sight.

But some analysts and investors are sceptical about the long-term prospects of a business devoted to natural gas and coal power plants that are falling out of favour with utilities.

The competition from solar and wind, along with abundant low-priced gas produced by fracking, is curbing orders for new plants and forcing the closure of old ones. Some utilities are even filing for bankruptcy.

“That means companies are going to have trouble selling new fossil-fuel plants,” said Mark Dyson, a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, an organisation that researches the power industry.

Over 126 years, GE has weathered ups and downs in power market before, and has legions of sales and service people around the world. Last year it booked 26 orders for its newest gas turbines in Mexico, Bangladesh and elsewhere. It is investing in its separate, $10 billion-a-year renewables unit focused on wind and hydro, which saw revenue fall 6 percent last year. GE also sells battery storage, software and smart-grid technology to work with wind and solar systems.

GE power equipment orders - an indicator of future sales - fell 41 percent in the first quarter, accelerating from a 17 percent drop last year, according to GE’s earnings reports.

GE’s performance reflects the broader trend of utilities shifting to renewables from fossil fuels.

Global sales of large natural gas power plants have fallen by half since 2013, according to McCoy Power Reports. Coal and gas-fired plants accounted for just 38 percent of new electricity capacity financed globally last year, down from 71 percent a decade ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. Solar and wind now draw 53 percent of such investment, up from 22 percent, a Reuters analysis shows.

Rivals Siemens AG and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are cautious about the scope for growth.

“We see a structural change,” Lisa Davis, the chief executive officer of Siemens Corp, the U.S. unit, said in an interview. “There are fewer large units being sold globally than there were five years ago. I don’t see that changing dramatically going forward.”

Siemens is cutting 6,100 power and gas jobs to adjust.

Many utilities share the view that the shift is permanent because it is driven by economics rather than government policy and climate-change concerns. While conventional power plants will continue to be built, sales may never reach the levels seen just two years ago, industry experts said.

With electricity prices trending downward, utilities are increasingly unwilling to risk capital on a new plant unless then can lock in a long-term price, executives said.

“Building new large, combined-cycle gas plants is challenging without the stability of a long-term power contract,” said Timothy Menzie, chief executive officer of InterGen, an international power generation company.


GE faces a further challenge: long-term erosion of the large base of plants it services. After acquiring the Alstom power business in 2015, GE has a base of customers that produces one-third of the world’s electricity. Long-term contracts to service those plants bring GE billions of dollars in annual revenue.

But as utilities close older coal and gas-fired plants, the revenue growth from services is under pressure.

Wind and solar can cost as little as $18 a megawatt hour, compared with $40 for a large gas plant, said Mikael Backman, North America regional director at Wartsila Energy Solutions, part of the Finnish company that makes quick-start natural gas-fired generators.

Across much of the United States, some utilities now buy all the cheap renewable power they can on electricity markets and use quick-start gas engines to fill in when wind and sun falter.

In California, regulators have put on hold a project that planned to buy one of GE’s large natural-gas turbines while Southern California Edison, which planned to buy the power, studies using wind and solar instead.

The shift from fossil fuels stretches beyond states like California, which is aggressively switching to renewable power.

In oil-rich Texas, wind and solar now provide 21 percent of the state’s electricity. Utilities there are shutting down the equivalent of about 20 average-sized coal plants this year, according a Reuters analysis of data from power system operator ERCOT. Out of 183 power-generation projects on the drawing boards, only four would run on fossil fuels, ERCOT said. The rest are wind and solar.

ExGen Texas Power, an affiliate of Exelon Corp, filed for bankruptcy protection in November for five natural-gas plants, the second such bankruptcy in Texas last year attributed to low power prices. GE supplied parts and service to several of the plants, according to the bankruptcy filings. Reuters could not determine whether the contracts will remain in effect.

In Virginia, Dominion Energy ended several maintenance contracts it had with GE this year when it mothballed a large gas-fired plant built by companies GE later acquired and idled seven other coal and natural gas units in the state.

Dominion aims to build 4,720 megawatts of solar by 2033, the equivalent of about five large combined-cycle power plants.

It is opening a new combined-cycle natural-gas plant in Virginia this year, built with GE and Mitsubishi equipment. It said it has no current plans to build more such plants.

“Solar is very cheap,” spokesman Dan Genest said. “These units were just not cutting it.”]]>
5/24/2018 11:09:55 AM
<![CDATA[Trump urges a new 'structure' for U.S.-China trade deal]]>
In an early Wednesday morning post on Twitter, Trump said the current track appeared “too hard to get done” and cited difficulties such as verification, but he gave no other details about what he or his administration was looking for amid ongoing negotiations.

Representatives for the White House did not respond to a request for more information about the president’s statement.

“Our trade deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion,” Trump wrote in his post.

U.S. stocks slipped after his comments, but ended Wednesday up after release of the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting, which indicated a gradual approach to interest rates hikes.

On Thursday, the Trump comments on China trade talks and the launch of a U.S. national security probe into U.S. auto imports dented shares of Asian automakers.

Trump’s statement comes amid the negotiations between the world’s two largest economies after potential tariffs on both sides raised fears of a trade war, even as some tensions have eased over signs of some possible progress.

Both sides claimed victory on Monday and pledged to continue talking after last week’s round in Washington produced pledges that China would import more American energy and agricultural commodities so as to trim the $335 billion annual U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China, although there were no specifics. [nL3N1SS1VH]

“China unswervingly defends its core interests, and did not make any promise on cutting its trade surplus with the U.S. by a specific figure,” Gao Feng, spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, said on Thursday.

But both sides are willing to strengthen cooperation in agricultural, energy, medical, high-tech products as well as the financial sector, Gao told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was expected to visit China next week to help finalize an agreement. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross aimed to negotiate “a framework” that could then turn into “binding agreements ... between companies.”

“China welcomes the U.S. in sending senior trade delegations to China soon, and hopes China and the U.S. can work together to actively implement the measures specified in the joint statement according to the understanding both sides achieved recently in D.C.,” Gao said.

Trump on Tuesday, however, told reporters he was not pleased with recent talks, calling them “a start”.

China hopes both sides will move to push bilateral trade cooperation to achieve “positive” and “realistic” goals, the Chinese commerce ministry spokesman said.

Any firm deal is likely to take a long time, according to most observers, and U.S. officials have threatened to return to tariffs, which prompted the current standoff, if needed.

Trump threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods.

Trade talks have also been clouded by separate negotiations over the nuclear weapons program in North Korea, which counts China as its sole major ally.

Trump is seeking to win a major deal with Pyongyang to denuclearize and is eyeing a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. On Tuesday, however, Trump raised doubts the meeting would take place as planned, and suggested Kim’s recent meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping had influenced Kim to harden his stance.]]>
5/24/2018 11:04:29 AM
<![CDATA[Deutsche Bank to cut thousands of staff in investment bank revamp]]>
Germany’s biggest bank said on Thursday it would reduce global headcount to well below 90,000 from the current 97,000, with staff numbers in equities sales and trading falling by 25 percent. The bulk of those jobs are in New York and London.

After an abrupt management reshuffle last month, Deutsche Bank said it aimed to scale back its global investment bank and refocus on Europe and its home market after three consecutive years of losses. It had flagged cuts to U.S. bond trading, equities, and the business that serves hedge funds.

“We remain committed to our Corporate & Investment Bank and our international presence – we are unwavering in that,” Chief Executive Christian Sewing said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are Europe’s alternative in the international financing and capital markets business. However, we must concentrate on what we truly do well,” he said.

The reductions will reduce the investment bank’s leverage exposure by 100 billion euros ($117 billion), or 10 percent, with most of the cuts to take place this year, the bank said.

It didn’t provide a specific number of job cuts, but a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday the bank was aiming to axe 10,000 positions.

The bank said 2018 would incur restructuring costs of 800 million euros, a figure the bank had flagged last month.

The details on the bank’s strategy come ahead of its annual general meeting on Thursday.

Shareholders, fed up with a languishing share price and dwindling revenues, said they would call on the bank’s management to speed up the recovery process.

The shareholder meeting comes after months of turmoil for the loss-making lender.

Deutsche Bank Chairman Paul Achleitner last month abruptly replaced CEO John Cryan with Sewing amid investor complaints the bank was falling behind in executing a turnaround plan.

The bank’s shares, down more than 31 percent this year, opened 0.4 percent higher.

Deutsche Bank is also under pressure from credit ratings agencies. Standard & Poor’s is expected to say by the end of the month whether it will cut Deutsche Bank’s rating after putting it on “credit watch” in April.]]>
5/24/2018 11:01:02 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. launches auto import probe, China says will defend interests]]>
The national security probe under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 would investigate whether vehicle and parts imports were threatening the industry’s health and ability to research and develop new, advanced technologies, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, promising a “thorough, fair and transparent investigation.”

Higher tariffs could be particularly painful for Asian automakers including Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), which count the United States as a key market, and the announcement sparked a broad sell-off in automakers’ shares across the region. [MKTS/GLOB]

The governments of Japan, China and South Korea said they would monitor the situation, while Beijing, which is increasingly eyeing the United States as a potential market for its cars, added that it would defend its interests.

“China opposes the abuse of national security clauses, which will seriously damage multilateral trade systems and disrupt normal international trade order,” Gao Feng, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a regular news briefing on Thursday which focused largely on whether Beijing and Washington are making any progress in their growing trade dispute.

“We will closely monitor the situation under the U.S. probe and fully evaluate the possible impact and resolutely defend our own legitimate interests.”


The probe comes as Trump courts voters in the U.S. industrial heartland ahead of mid-term elections later this year, and opens a new front in his “America First” trade agenda aimed at clawing back manufacturing jobs lost to overseas competitors.

It could raise the costs for overseas automakers to export vehicles and parts to the world’s second-largest auto market.

Growing trade tensions over cars and car parts, particularly with China, could raise risks for U.S. companies expanding their presence in the country, signs of which are already emerging.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) imported vehicles were being held up at Chinese ports, adding to a growing list of U.S. products facing issues at China’s borders.

The majority of vehicles sold in the United States by Japanese and South Korean automakers are produced there, but most firms also export to the U.S. from plants in Asia, Mexico, Canada and other countries.

Roughly one-third of all U.S. vehicle imports last year were from Asia.

In addition to recently imposed 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports, the administration has threatened tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods over intellectual property complaints, and Beijing has vowed to respond.

The administration is also trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to return more auto production to the United States.

Commerce said the new probe would determine whether lost domestic production had weakened the U.S. “internal economy” and its ability to develop connected vehicle systems, autonomous vehicles, fuel cells, electric motors and batteries, and advanced manufacturing processes.

In a separate statement, President Donald Trump said: “Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a Nation.”

A Trump administration official said before the announcement that the expected move was aimed partly at pressuring Canada and Mexico to make concessions in talks to update the NAFTA that have languished in part over auto provisions, as well as pressuring Japan and the European Union, which also export large numbers of vehicles to the United States.


An ad hoc industry group representing the largest Japanese, German and other foreign automakers called “Here for America,” criticized the effort.

“To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America,” said John Bozzella, chief executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing Toyota, Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and others.

Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group urged free trade practices for the auto industry, which is built on a complex supply chain under which vehicle components for any given car often originates from numerous countries.

“As a global manufacturer, Geely Holding Group is in favor of free trade and open markets. Free trade creates jobs, wealth and economic growth,” a spokesman said, adding that its plant in South Carolina to produce its Volvo brand cars showed its commitment to the country.

Shares in Toyota, Honda and Hyundai each fell roughly 3 percent in local trade following the announcement, while Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T), which does not have any U.S. production capacity at the moment, tumbled more than 5 percent.

Late last week, Japan’s automakers’ association urged its export partners to keep tariffs on vehicles and components low and maintain free trade relationships.

Roughly 12 million cars and trucks were produced in the United States last year, while the country imported 8.3 million vehicles worth $192 billion. This included 2.4 million from Mexico, 1.8 million from Canada, 1.7 million from Japan, 930,000 from South Korea and 500,000 from Germany, according to U.S. government statistics.

At the same time, the United States exported nearly 2 million vehicles worldwide worth $57 billion.

German automakers Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and BMW AG (BMWG.DE) all have large U.S. assembly plants. The United States is the second-biggest export destination for German auto manufacturers after China, while vehicles and car parts are Germany’s biggest source of export income.

Asked if the measures would hit Mexico and Canada, a Mexican source close to the NAFTA talks said: “That probably is going to be the next battle.”]]>
5/24/2018 10:55:52 AM
<![CDATA[Asia share markets hit by U.S. auto tariff threat, dollar pulls back]]>
Europe, in contrast, was set for a quiet start. Financial speadbetters expect Britain’s FTSE 100 to open 5 points lower, Germany’s DAX to lose 4 points and France’s CAC 40 to open flat.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was about 0.1 percent higher, but Japan’s Nikkei stock index fell 1.1 percent as auto shares slumped. South Korea’s KOSPI lost 0.2 percent.

A broad MSCI index of car and car parts companies fell 1.1 percent. Tokyo’s SE TOPIX transport equipment index lost 3 percent.

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it would launch a national security investigation into car and truck imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a move that could lead to tariffs like those imposed on steel and aluminum in March.

Adding to market jitters, Trump on Wednesday called for “a different structure” in any trade deal with China, fuelling uncertainty over the negotiations.

On Thursday, China’s Commerce Ministry said it had not pledged to cut China’s trade surplus with the U.S. by “a certain figure”, and that it hoped the United States implemented measures promised during trade negotiations as soon as possible.

It also said it “opposes the abuse of national security clauses,” referring to the U.S. Commerce Department’s probe into auto imports.

China’s blue chip CSI 300 index was 0.7 percent lower.

Prompting further uncertainty, Trump on Wednesday cast doubt on plans for an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he would know next week whether the meeting would take place.

“There’s a lot of noise around Donald Trump, China-U.S. trade, the auto imports now, and then the Korean summit, and all these things are just weighing on investors at the moment,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist and head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney.

“I think we probably would have seen a decent day in Asian markets were it not for these ongoing geopolitical worries because the minutes from the Fed’s last meeting were relatively benign.”

While the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s May 1-2 meeting indicated that policymakers expect another interest rate increase would be warranted “soon” if the U.S. economic outlook remains intact, they helped to ease market concerns that the Fed would accelerate the pace of interest rate increases.

The two-year Treasury note yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, was at 2.5202 percent after touching 2.5970 on Wednesday.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was at 3.0008 percent after earlier falling to 2.9770 percent.

Analysts said that market uncertainty was prompting a clear flight to safety across financial markets.

The dollar was down 0.6 percent against the yen to 109.47.

“With Trump’s unpredictable behavior leaving investors on edge, the Japanese yen has scope to appreciate further in the short term,” said Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at FXTM. “However, a strengthening dollar on the back of heightened U.S. rate hike expectations could limit the yen’s upside gains.”

The euro was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1.1707. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.1 percent lower at 93.874.


Concerns over trade, talks and tariffs overshadowed strong economic indicators in two of the region’s major economies.

Confidence among Japanese manufacturers saw its first rise in fourth months, and service-sector sentiment rose to a record high in the latest Reuters Tankan poll, underscoring expectations that the Japanese economy will return to growth in the second quarter.

In South Korea, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said the economy is on track for annual growth of 3 percent despite worrying factors such as high youth unemployment.

The Bank of Korea held interest rates steady for a sixth straight month on Thursday, with inflation seen remaining below target and amid concerns a U.S.-China trade war would hurt regional economies.

In commodities markets, U.S. crude was down 0.3 percent at $71.63 a barrel. Oil prices fell on Wednesday after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories.

Brent futures were 0.4 percent lower at $79.50 a barrel, continuing to move lower after rising above $80 last week for the first time since November 2014 .

The most-traded iron ore futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose for the first time in six sessions on Thursday, gaining 1 percent.

Australian shares, which had come under pressure from weaker commodities prices, eked out gains after five consecutive sessions of losses, rising 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 percent higher.

Gold was slightly higher. Spot gold was traded at $1,295.31 per ounce.]]>
5/24/2018 10:47:21 AM
<![CDATA[Business News Wrap-Up]]>Petroleum min. probes with officials of Halliburton firm aging oil fields

Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tarek el Molla discussed Wednesday with Head of Halliburton Company Eric Carre production and exploration activities of the firm across Egypt.

EGX ends Wednesday in green amid Egyptian, foreign selling

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) ended Wednesday’s session in green, and market capitalization gained LE 687 million ($38.29 million) amid Egyptian and foreign selling.

The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.03 percent, or 4.89 points, to close at 16,662.55 points.

Public sector companies record profit of LE 8B in 9 months

Public sector companies recorded a total profit of LE 8 billion ($445 million) during the first nine months of 2018, Minister of Public Enterprises Khaled Badwi said.

Trade min. probes with Russian counterpart economic coop.

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil stressed that trade exchange between Egypt and Russia during 2017 reached its highest record as it hit $3.8 billion.

Trade exchange bet. Egypt, Eurasian Economic Union hits $6.9B in 2017

Trade exchange between Egypt and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) reached $6.9 billion in 2017, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said Wednesday.]]>
5/23/2018 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Trade min. probes with Russian counterpart economic coop.]]>
This remark came during a meeting held with Russian Trade Minister Denis Manturov in Moscow where Kabil leads the Egyptian side in the activities of the 11th joint economic cooperation committee with Russia.

According to a press release by the Trade and Industry Ministry, Kabil asserted that inking an agreement for establishing a Russian industrial zone in Egypt will contribute to achieving an unprecedented leap in the level of industrial cooperation between the two countries during the coming phase.

For his part, Manturov stressed his country's keenness on enhancing economic cooperation with Egypt in light of the historic ties binding the two nations.]]>
5/23/2018 4:16:48 PM
<![CDATA[Trade exchange bet. Egypt, Eurasian Economic Union hits $6.9B in 2017]]>
This came during Kabil’s meeting with EAEU Minister for Trade, Veronika Nikishina, on the sidelines of his current visit to Russia.

The minister clarified that Egypt’s imports recorded $6.3 billion while the exports amounted to $573 million.

Generally, exports recorded $22.4 billion in 2017, with an increase of $2 billion, while imports decreased $10 billion to $56 billion, compared to $66 billion in 2016.

Kabil said that the first round of talks between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) over a free trade agreement will take place in September.

The minister stressed the importance of boosting the relationship between the two sides to improve the numbers of the trade exchange.

He further asserted the necessity of encouraging the business committees in these countries to increase their investments in Egypt during the upcoming period.

For her part, Necchinia affirmed the EU's keenness to start negotiations on a free trade agreement with Egypt, noting that representatives of the five states and the Eurasian Economic Commission will participate in the negotiations.

The Eurasian Economic Union is a political and economic union of states located primarily in Northern Eurasia.

EAEU member states include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
5/23/2018 4:11:55 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Russia ink Russian industrial zone agreement in SCC]]>
The agreement was signed by Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil and his Russian counterpart Denis Manturov on behalf of their governments.

This 50-year agreement represents a significant shift in Egyptian-Russian strategic relations, Kabil said, adding that the deal is automatically renewable for five consecutive years upon the two parties' approval.

The agreement aims at bolstering mutual cooperation at the industrial level, increasing investment opportunities and creating an adequate environment for further technical and scientific cooperation between the two sides, the Egyptian minister added.

The industrial zone will be established on an area of 5,25 million square meters under the usufruct right system, Kabil noted.

The zone is expected to lure about $ 7 billion worth of investments.

This agreement was the culmination of intensive talks between the ministries of industry in both countries over the past two years, Manturov said.

The Russian ministry of trade and industry will prepare the industrial zone project plan as well as its master plan in cooperation with the Egyptian ministry and the Suez Canal Economic Zone officials, Manturov added.

The Russian side will be responsible for attracting and regulating projects, product manufacturing and service-providing at the Russian industrial zone, the Russian minister noted.

Ambassador of Egypt to Russia Ihab Nasr, Chairman of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ESC) Ahmed Antar and Head of the General Organization of Export and Import Control Authority Ismail Gaber were among the officials witnessing the signing of the agreement.]]>
5/23/2018 4:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Petroleum min. probes with officials of Halliburton firm aging oil fields]]>
The meeting, which was attended by the Head of Halliburton Egypt firm Osama Abdel Halim, took up increasing investments and using modern technology to pump more crude from aging oil fields.

They also probed the work progress of the Egypt Gate project which aims to market Egypt's petroleum zones and oil discoveries and attract international companies’ investments to the target areas.]]>
5/23/2018 3:49:03 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Wednesday in green amid Egyptian, foreign selling]]>
The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.03 percent, or 4.89 points, to close at 16,662.55 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 rose 0.27 percent, or 7.72 points, to reach 2,909.22 points.

The small and mid-cap index EGX70 increased 0.34 percent, or 2.95 points, closing at 862.71 points, and the broader index EGX100 went up 0.01 percent, or 0.32 points, to close at 2,189.18 points.

Market capitalization gained LE 687 million, recording LE 949.11 billion, compared to LE 948.42 billion in Tuesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 140.59 million shares, traded through 19,360 transactions, with a turnover of LE 684.58 million.

Arab investors were net buyers at LE 20.84 million, while Egyptian and foreign investors were net sellers at LE 11.63 million and LE 9.21 million, respectively.

Arab and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 22.23 million and LE 25.37 million, respectively, while Egyptian individuals were net sellers at LE 17.97 million.

Arab and Foreign organizations sold at LE 1.39 million and LE 34.58 million, respectively, while Egyptian organizations bought at LE 6.34 million.

El Arabia Engineering Industries, Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, and El Obour Real Estate Investment were top gainers of the session by 9.98 percent, 9.97 percent and 9.78 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Gharbia Islamic Housing Development, Alexandria Spinning & Weaving (SPINALEX), and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank- Egypt were top losers of the session by 10 percent, 3.43 percent and 2.52 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Tuesday’s session in red, as the EGX30 slipped 0.73 percent, the EGX50 declined 0.45 percent, the EGX70 decreased 0.08 percent and the EGX100 went down 0.34 percent.

Trading on the EGX during the holy month of Ramadan is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).
5/23/2018 2:41:27 PM
<![CDATA[Public sector companies record profit of LE 8B in 9 months]]>
Assembling companies

The minister said during a sohour ceremony of the Egyptian Association for Direct Investment that companies with similar activities in the sector will be combined together as such: medical, construction and tourism companies.

He added that all automotive feeder companies will be assembled under the Holding for Maritime and Land Transport, clarifying that this step is not considered to be a merger but only to be assembled under one entity that manages the entire system in the automotive feeder industries.

IPO program

Egypt’s initial public offering (IPO) program is being turned into action quickly and is expected to start offering next month, the minister said.

The minister considers the IPO program as a step for the growth of the economy, as it let the private sector manage the companies even with a governmental stake in them.

He added that Engineering for Petroleum and Process Industries (Enppi) will be the first to be floated with 15-30 percent.

“We started a quick connection and negotiations with the IPO’s advisor, NI Capital, and the Ministry of Finance, as most of the general assemblies of the companies agreed upon the offering, and the final approval will be ready by the end of the month,” Badwi said.

In 2016, Egypt launched the government’s IPO program to offer shares over three to five years in several state-owned companies in fields such as petroleum, services, chemicals and real estate.

The program will serve as a main tool to attract local and foreign capital flows to Egypt in order to help boost state finances.


Regarding privatization, the minister said there are seven problems of 250 companies, and the ministry has already worked out three of them and is working on the rest to be solved by the end of the year.

On the incorporation of companies’ assets into the sovereign fund, Badawi said only the unutilized assets and some land would be included, because the assets of the companies by virtue of Law No. 203 are considered to be as private money.

In April 2018, Planning Minister Hala el-Saeed announced the government’s approval of a draft law to establish a sovereign wealth fund to manage state assets.

The fund aims to manage and make use of the state’s assets with a capital of LE 200 billion.

Companies’ debts

The total debt of public sector companies to gas and electricity organizations reached LE 15 billion, and they will be paid at intervals of three to five years, after a down payment of 25 percent for electricity and 10 percent for gas, where adjustments will be through holding companies.

In general, the total debt of the public sector companies to all parties amounts to LE 45 billion, of which LE 8 billion is for spinning and textile companies and about LE 21 billion for the National Investment Bank.

Returning companies to public sector

Regarding returning companies to the public sector, Badwi said that the debt of Omar Afandi has been adjusted by $35 million for International Finance Corporation.

He added that Chemical Holding Company approved to end the dispute of Steam Boilers Company, clarifying that the value of the settlement is $89 million at the old price of LE 7.7, ranging from LE 500 to LE 600 million, in exchange for settlements with taxes and the new urban communities authority belonging to the former owner of the company and Bank Faisal.

The board of directors of El Nasr Housing and Development Company and the general assembly approved the settlement and gave up the international arbitration in exchange for LE 100 million.
5/23/2018 2:20:04 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt tourism revenues jump 83% to $2.2B in Q1]]>
The number of tourists who visited Egypt in that time jumped 37.1 percent to 2.383 million, added the official who asked to remain anonymous.

The tourism sector is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency but has struggled since a 2011 uprising that ousted then president Hosni Mubarak. A total of 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 before the uprising.]]>
5/23/2018 11:03:19 AM
<![CDATA[Wynn shareholders reject executive compensation plan]]>
The company’s founder, Steve Wynn, resigned earlier this year after allegations of sexual misconduct and disposed his entire 11.8 percent stake in the firm for $2.1 billion.

Nearly 80 percent of the company's shareholders voted against the compensation proposal.

Wynn Resorts could not be immediately reached for comment on the vote.

In a separate filing on Tuesday, Wynn said the compensation committee would comprise all three of its recently-appointed female board members. bit.ly/2kj1bvd

The company had said the appointments, made last month, were intended to help “improve the workplace environment and further stabilize Wynn”.]]>
5/23/2018 10:57:18 AM
<![CDATA[Turkish lira hits record low, down 20 percent against dollar this year]]>
At 0724 GMT, the lira stood at 4.7642 against the U.S. currency, paring its losses after touching an all-time low of 4.8450 in Asian trade overnight. It has lost as much as 21 percent of its value since the start of the year.

The lira also fell sharply against the Japanese yen, amid talk of Japanese retail investors selling the lira as stop-loss levels were hit.

“The lira fall is now on the agenda of world markets and some are saying there is an increased risk of contagion in other emerging markets from the Turkey risk,” said GCM Securities analyst Enver Erkan.

“The necessity of the Turkish central bank taking a significant step is increasing,” he said.

A self-described “enemy of interest rates”, Erdogan wants borrowing costs lowered to spur credit growth and construction and said last week he would seek greater control over monetary policy after elections set for June 24.

Economy officials told Reuters the government’s economic management team met at the start of this week to discuss potential measures, including possible steps by the central bank. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya attended the meeting.

Ratings agencies sounded alarm about monetary policy. S&P Global senior sovereign analyst Frank Gill told Reuters government finances could deteriorate rapidly if authorities failed to stem pressure on the currency and government borrowing costs.

Investors want to see decisive interest rate increases to rein in double-digit inflation and Erdogan’s comments have reinforced long-standing worries about the central bank’s ability to do that.

Borsa Istanbul Group, the Istanbul stock exchange company, said in a statement on Wednesday it had converted its foreign currency assets into lira, aside from its short-term needs in a step to support the Turkish currency.

The lira weakness was exacerbated by dollar gains against a basket of currencies, with investors awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting for hints on the pace of monetary tightening.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond rose to 15.30 percent at the opening from a last trade of 14.92 percent on Tuesday.

The main BIST 100 share index fell 0.22 percent to 103,105 points on Tuesday.]]>
5/23/2018 10:52:34 AM
<![CDATA[Sterling falls ahead of key inflation data]]>
Sterling slumped half a percent to $1.3372, its lowest since Dec. 27, before trimming some of its losses.

A broad rally by the dollar and dwindling expectations that interest rates will rise have caused what had been one of the best-performing major currencies to give up all its 2018 gains.

BoE policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe told the Treasury Committee of parliament on Tuesday that policy rates are set to rise 25 to 50 basis points every year over three years, a comment initially interpreted by markets as supportive for the pound.

But recent weak economic data means markets are now not even pricing in a full 25-basis-point hike by the end of 2018.

The inflation data due out at GMT 0830 will be scrutinised by investors to gauge whether the BoE might tighten monetary policy as early as August.

Concerns over Brexit meanwhile continue to hurt the pound.

Foreign minister Boris Johnson said Britain must ditch the European Union’s tariff rules as quickly as possible and run its own trade policy, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.]]>
5/23/2018 10:50:04 AM
<![CDATA[Euro/Swiss franc at two-month lows as Italy concerns weigh]]>
Carry trades, where investors borrow in relatively low yielding currencies to invest in higher-yielding ones, came under pressure with the euro/swiss franc cross being singled out for special punishment.

While the dollar against a basket of its rivals rose 0.2 percent to 93.76, it weakened 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent against the Japanese yen and Swiss franc respectively.

Stocks tumbled and the yen gained broadly after Trump said on Tuesday he was not pleased with recent trade talks between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.

The euro was also pressured lower by concern over political risk in Italy. The single currency fell to a six-month low after German PMI data fell to a 20-month low indicating that economic momentum in Europe’s biggest economy was faltering.

The euro/Swiss franc fell 0.3 percent to 1.1616 francs per euro, its lowest level since March 23.

The currency pair, a proxy for risk appetite within Europe, has fallen nearly 3 percent since May. 14 as concerns of a fiscally profligate new coalition government in Rome has raised concerns of a showdown with the European Union.

The likelihood of a government comprised of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the far-right League has pushed Italian 10-year yields up nearly 60 basis points since the start of May. The bulk of that move has been over the past week. [GVD/EUR]

“The euro/franc cross encapsulates the growing risk premium that investors are placing on the euro in recent days and we may see further downside for now,” said Alvin Tan, a currency strategist at Societe Generale in London.

Morgan Stanley strategists said the euro’s recent weakness could prompt overseas investors to hedge their bond and equity investments in Europe, which could add further downside pressure on the euro.

The safe-haven yen also rose against other currency crosses and surged against the Turkish lira, amid talk of Japanese retail investors selling the lira as stop-loss levels were hit.

The yen tends to rise in times of market turbulence since Japan is the world’s largest creditor nation and traders tend to assume Japanese investors would repatriate funds at times of crisis.

Investors are now looking to the release on Wednesday of the Fed’s minutes from its most recent meeting, when it kept interest rates steady.

In its post-meeting statement issued in early May, the Fed also said inflation had “moved close” to its target and that “on a 12-month basis is expected to run near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term.”]]>
5/23/2018 10:46:04 AM
<![CDATA[Oil prices slip on potential easing of OPEC supply curbs]]>
Brent LCOc1 futures fell 37 cents, or nearly 0.5 percent, to $79.20 a barrel by 0636 GMT, after climbing 35 cents on Tuesday. Last week, the global benchmark hit $80.50 a barrel, the highest since November 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures eased 21 cents, or nearly 0.3 percent, to $71.99 a barrel, having climbed on Tuesday to $72.83, also the highest since November 2014.

“It looks like the market is pausing at current levels,” said Michael McCarthy, Chief Market Strategist at brokerage CMC Markets.

“If sanctions are introduced against Iran, most of the OPEC producers would like to be pumping more oil, particularly giving the higher prices.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may decide to raise oil output as soon as June due to worries over Iranian and Venezuelan supply and after Washington raised concerns the oil rally was going too far, OPEC and oil industry sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

OPEC-led supply curbs have largely cleared an inventory surplus in industrialized countries based on the deal’s original goals and stocks continue to decline.

“...Investors are mindful of upcoming talks between Russia and Saudi Arabia about whether they should look at a controlled relaxation of over-compliance with their output cut agreement,” ANZ said in a note.

Rising supply in the United States, where shale production is forecast to hit a record high in June, has limited the upward move in prices.

Concerns about a potential drop in Iranian oil exports following Washington’s exit from a nuclear arms control deal with Tehran have driven prices to multi-year highs.

On Monday, the United States demanded Iran make sweeping changes - from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war - or face severe economic sanctions.

Iran dismissed Washington’s ultimatum and one senior Iranian official said it showed the United States is seeking “regime change” in Iran.

In addition, Venezuela’s crude output could drop further following a disputed presidential election.

The United States is actively considering oil sanctions on Venezuela, where output has dropped by a third in two years to its lowest in decades.

U.S. crude and distillate stockpiles fell last week, while gasoline inventories increased unexpectedly, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.]]>
5/23/2018 10:42:43 AM
<![CDATA[India's Vedanta hits over 10-month low as protests against copper plant turn violent]]>
Demonstrations against the copper plant, one of India’s biggest, have been going on for more than three months, with protesters alleging that it is a major source of pollution and risk to fisheries.

The smelter, run by Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper unit, is controlled by Vedanta Ltd (VDAN.NS), a majority-owned subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources.

Environmental activists and some local politicians want the government to shut the plant permanently.

Vedanta had earlier said the protests were based on “false allegations”, and that it plans to double capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tonnes per year.

Shares were down 3.2 percent as of 0500 GMT, after falling as much as 5.50 percent earlier in the session.]]>
5/23/2018 10:40:28 AM
<![CDATA[Tesla trims up to $14K off Model X in China after tariff cuts]]>
The carmaker will lower prices of its Model S and Model X cars by just over 6 percent, a Beijing-based sales representative told Reuters on Wednesday.

China said on Tuesday it will cut import tariffs for automobiles to 15 percent from 25 percent, a fillip for premium car brands like Tesla and BMW (BMWG.DE) which import a significant number of vehicles.

Tesla said on Tuesday that any of its cars sold in China would be subject to adjusted prices, even before the tariff change comes into effect on July 1.

The price of a top-of-the range Model X will be cut to 1.3 million yuan ($203,830) but that remains well above the $140,000 cash price-tag before savings for the priciest version in the United States - Tesla’s Model X P100D.

The move by the California-based electric carmaker likely foreshadows wider price cuts for imported cars in China as foreign firms look to narrow a price gap with domestic rivals. Imports, however, only make up a fraction of the overall market and tend to be upper-end models.

Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, said price cuts by foreign premium brands will likely force them to adjust the price tag for vehicles they produce locally in China. This in turn will gradually impact the price of more affordable, mainstream cars - even local Chinese brands.

“With imminent price adjustments in the higher-end segment, that will over time lead to a pricing adjustment for the entire market,” Zhang said.

Other carmakers, including Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and BMW, said after the tariff cut that they would look at adjusting their retail prices in China to provide competitive offers to consumers.

($1 = 6.3735 Chinese yuan)]]>
5/23/2018 10:35:47 AM
<![CDATA['Referendum' result due on France's big railway shake-up]]>
The unions, which called the vote days after Air France (AIRF.PA) employees forced the resignation of Air France-KLM’s chief executive, will be hoping to inject fresh energy into rolling strikes and to weaken the government’s negotiating hand.

The strikes have brought disruption but not paralyzed the transport network. So far, there has been no sign from President Emmanuel Macron that he will back down on the biggest and most disputed reform proposed.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne signaled there would be no turning back, telling Europe 1 radio hours ahead of the vote result: “I don’t think it was very responsible of the unions to have people believe the reform might not happen.”

The unions call it a “referendum”. The state-appointed boss of the SNCF SNCF.UL railways, Guillaume Pepy, says it is nothing more than a “petition” bereft of any legal value, a statement echoed by Borne.

Pepy says the railworkers’ strike could cost the SNCF 350-400 million euros.

The result of the vote marks the beginning of a critical period in the rail reform process. On Friday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will meet with the unions and respond to proposed amendments to the draft bill that is with the Senate.

Macron has already stared down the unions over labor law reforms. Backing down over the SNCF would raise questions over his ability to deliver a raft of other social and economic reforms that he argues are vital to modernize France.


The proposed legislation will gradually end the SNCF’s monopoly of passenger train services in France, and with it the more protective job-for-life contracts that were customary for most of the 150,000 people who work at the railways.

The lower house of parliament, where Macron’s party dominates, has already adopted that legislation and the upper chamber Senate is due to vote on it in the first week of June.

The reform has been opposed by hardline unions including the Communist-linked CGT, but also by the large, reform-minded CFDT union, which is more interested in securing massive debt relief for the railways and guarantees on basic job conditions when the rail market opens up to foreign firms in years ahead.

Polls show that two thirds of voters back an overhaul of the railways, which many users say have suffered from debt-funded investment in the much-admired high-speed TGV network at the expense of a far bigger secondary rail network.

The government plans to absorb about 35 billion euros ($41.20 billion) out of the SNCF’s total 47 billion euro debt burden, French business daily Les Echos reported on Monday. A government spokesman declined to comment.]]>
5/23/2018 10:31:10 AM
<![CDATA[Asian shares pressured as Trump tempers Sino-U.S. trade optimism]]>
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.3 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.2 percent to end at a 1-1/2-week low and the Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.1 percent.

European stock futures suggest major European share indexes will open about 0.5 percent lower.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 shed 0.31 percent overnight, losing steam after hitting a two-month high.

Trump said on Tuesday he was not pleased with recent trade talks between the United States and China, souring the improved market sentiment following weekend comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the “trade war” is “on hold”.

His remarks followed Beijing’s announcement that it would cut import tariffs for automobiles and car parts.

Trump also floated a plan to fine ZTE Corp, and shake up its management as his administration considered rolling back more severe penalties.

“The market probably became overly optimistic on Monday. The reality is the talks are still continuing as they haven’t made headway on various issues, including intellectual property,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Further weighing on prices of risk assets, Trump also said there was a “substantial chance” his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will not take place as planned on June 12 amid concerns that Kim is resistant to giving up his nuclear weapons.

“There are many uncertainties in the air, we still don’t know whether U.S.-North Korea summit is possible and scandals continued to drag Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe’s popularity,” said Yasuo Sakuma at Libra Investments.

Investors fret Abe’s long-running cronyism scandal could attract more attention as the Ministry of Finance is due to release related documents on Thursday.

“Many investors are sitting on the sidelines. Personally, I haven’t done much trading over the past week, after the earnings season. The current price levels are not really attractive. I’m waiting for a 5 percent correction.”

The cautious mood helped to underpin bonds. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield stood at 3.050 percent, off Monday’s near seven-year high of 3.128 percent.

As lower U.S. yields sap the appetite for the dollar, the euro traded at $1.1765, hovering above Monday’s five-month low of $1.1717.

Against the yen the dollar slipped 0.4 percent to 110.49 from Monday’s four-month high of 111.395.

The biggest mover in the currency market was the Turkish lira, which fell more than two percent early on Wednesday to a record low of 4.8450 after rating agencies sounded the alarm on Tuesday over plans by President Tayyip Erdogan to tighten his grip on monetary policy.

The lira has fallen around 15 percent so far this month.

In commodities, oil prices held firm near 3-1/2-year highs on potential supply concerns surrounding Venezuela and Iran.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures traded little changed at $71.95 a barrel, a 0.4 percent loss. They touched $72.83 a barrel, the highest since November 2014, on Tuesday.

Brent futures were 0.6 percent lower at $79.11 a barrel. Last week, the global benchmark topped $80 for the first time since November 2014.

Bitcoin dropped below $8,000 to five-week lows, entering a downtrend channel on technical charts. The cryptocurrency last traded at $7,913, down 0.9 percent on the day.]]>
5/23/2018 10:26:29 AM
<![CDATA[China's ZTE estimates at least $3.1 bln loss from U.S. sanctions -Bloomberg]]>
The report also said ZTE is hopeful that the United States and China will be able to soon reach a deal that would remove the ban and has a plan in place allowing the telecoms firm to "swing idled factories into action within hours" of the ban being officially lifted.

($1 = 6.3743 Chinese yuan renminbi)]]>
5/23/2018 4:44:31 AM
<![CDATA[FOREX-Dollar firmer ahead of Fed minutes; Turkish lira tumbles]]>
The dollar index against a basket of six major peers rose 0.1 percent to 93.670. The dollar index has pulled back since hitting a five-month high of 94.058 on Monday.

The rise to Monday's high marked a gain of more than 5 percent from mid-April, which was driven by generally upbeat U.S. economic data and expectations the Fed would raise interest rates at least two more times this year.

Against the yen, the dollar fell 0.4 percent to 110.48 yen , edging away from a four-month high of 111.395 yen set on Monday.

Investors are now looking to the release on Wednesday of the Fed's minutes from its most recent meeting, at which it kept interest rates steady.

In the Fed policy meeting held in early May, the Fed also said inflation had "moved close" to its target and that "on a 12-month basis is expected to run near the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term."

The dollar is likely to stay in a holding pattern ahead of the Fed minutes, with the focus on further details related to the inflation outlook, said Heng Koon How, head of markets strategy for UOB in Singapore.

"We hope to have a bit more clarity on the inflation outlook from the Fed. The second dimension is basically how tolerant the Fed (policymakers) are of a possible inflation overshoot above two percent," Heng said.

The euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.1762, but still remained above a six-month low of $1.1717 on Monday.

In emerging markets, a sell-off in the Turkish lira deepened after rating agencies sounded the alarm on Tuesday about plans by President Tayyip Erdogan to tighten his grip on monetary policy.

The lira tumbled to a record low of 4.8450 per U.S. dollar in early Asian trade on Wednesday, with market participants citing talk of stop-loss lira selling by Japanese retail investors.

After paring some losses, the lira stood at 4.7900 per dollar, still down about 2.5 percent on the day.

Against the yen, the lira tumbled 2.9 percent to 23.0468 yen. ]]>
5/23/2018 4:18:34 AM
<![CDATA[Arabtec’s subsidiary wins contract in Egypt for $42.7M]]>CAIRO – 22 May 2018: UAE’s based group Arabtec Holding announced that its subsidiary, Arabtec Construction, won a contract to construct Phases III and IV of Village E “Levana” in Uptown Cairo Master Project, for AED 157 million (LE 755 million/ $42.7 million).

The company said in a filing to Dubai Financial Market that the total built up area of both phases spans over approximately 61,000 square meters, clarifying that Phases III & IV entail the construction of 128 villas along with the surrounding roadworks and infrastructure.

The statement noted that Uptown Cairo is an integrated development located in the heart of Egypt’s capital.

“The Uptown Cairo Project award marks one of the first projects we have been awarded outside the UAE in over a year,” Arabtec Holding’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Hamish Tyrwhitt, said.

“We look forward to working on another project for Emaar as we build on our solid relationships with our key clients. We will continue to strategically onboard work in our key competencies and key geographic markets where our clients operate that makes business sense for Arabtec’s success and sustainability,” he added.

Arabtec marked a jump of 281 percent in its net profit during the first quarter of 2018, recording AED 63.6 million from AED 17.6 million.

Arabtec Construction is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arabtec Holding.

Arabtec Holding is an engineering and construction Group specialized in complex projects in the Middle East and North Africa. The group delivers construction and infrastructure projects, including commercial, residential, social, industrial and economic infrastructure in UAE and other selected countries in the region.

5/22/2018 7:30:31 PM
<![CDATA[ ICT minister, Visa Int'l mull means to turn Egypt into regional hub for digital payments technology]]>
The MoU aims to enhance the infrastructure connected with boosting the digital economy and implementing a new system of visa cards to ease offering services to citizens.

During the meeting, Qadi asserted the government’s keenness on establishing partnerships with the world companies to achieve the goal of financial inclusion and build a digital economy via upgrading the system of the financial services to cope with the latest global techniques, said a statement by the ministry on Tuesday.

Both sides discussed plans of action to implement what was included in the MoU and Qadi reviewed the Egyptian ministry’s vision on the importance of transferring know how and experiences to the Egyptian cadres as part of a strategy that aims to turn Egypt into a regional hub for digital payment technologies.

For his part, Baricordi stressed that his company regards Cairo as a strategic partner and places the Egyptian market on its list of priorities, commending the Egyptian government’s positive efforts to spread the culture of e-payments and achieve financial inclusion.

He asserted Visa’s readiness to fully contribute to boosting technological infrastructure needed to activate the digital economy and upgrade services offered to citizens.
5/22/2018 4:58:52 PM
<![CDATA[Europe allocates 30% of Egypt’s readymade garment exports]]>
The council emphasized in a statement its interest to increase the ability to access the European market in cooperation with all export councils in Egypt, aiming at accelerating the completion of the Trade Ministry’s plan to increase Egyptian exports in accordance with the 2020 strategy.

The 2020 strategy was launched in November 2016 by Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil. It includes five main axes: industrial development, small and medium enterprise (SME) development and entrepreneurship, export development, training and technical education development, and corporate governance and development.

The strategy aims at increasing exports in the first place after strengthening the local industry.

Exports recorded $22.4 billion in 2017, with an increase of $2 billion, while imports decreased $10 billion to $56 billion, compared to $66 billion in 2016.

The statement added that the council is continuing its activities to explain the program of developing the financial systems of the textile and garment sector companies, and presenting the most important services and special programs provided by the European Bank for Restructure and Development (EBRD) to provide technical support to small and medium enterprises.

According to EBRD, the bank has financed 78 projects in Egypt totaling €3.5 billion ($4 billion). The current portfolio of projects is worth €2.7 billion.

Established in 1991, EBRD is an international financial institution that is owned by 66 countries from five continents, as well as the European Union and the European Investment Bank, targeting to develop a sound investment climate and promote environmentally and socially sound and sustainable development.

The council seeks to attract foreign experts to help the companies in their administrative and technical aspects, in addition to developing the exports, the statement said.

It said that there are specialized programs for financing energy efficiency projects and green energy projects.

Sherin Hosny, executive director of the Readymade Garments Export Council, said earlier that Egypt’s exports of readymade clothes increased 16 percent in the first quarter of 2018, recording $382 million, compared to $330 million during the same period of 2017.
5/22/2018 4:47:09 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, EBRD sign $200M agreement for boosting energy efficiency ]]>
Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and Erik Ramosen, director of Natural Resources Department at EBRD, signed the agreement in the presence of Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla.

EBRD also signed an executing agreement of the project with Chairman of Suez Oil Processing Company, Mohamed Elewa.

“This project aims at investing in energy efficiency and improving its usage which will be reflected on reducing the environmental emissions that cause climate change and harm the environment as well as humans' health,” Nasr said.

Nasr added that the project will also work on updating the oil-sector’s companies, supporting them to increase the production of high-quality fuel, compatible with international standards, transforming Egypt to a regional center for the exchange of energy.

The project will contribute in providing new job opportunities in a good working environment as well as providing clean energy and boosting the economic growth through the implementation of environmental investments, according to the minister.

In December 2017, Egypt signed a similar agreement with EBRD in favor of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), where about $125 million were directed to waste heat recovery technologies while the rest of the loan, $75 million, went for other projects.

According to EBRD data, the bank financed 78 projects in Egypt worth €3.5 billion. The current portfolio of projects is worth €2.7 billion.

Established in 1991, EBRD is an international financial institution that is owned by 66 countries from five continents, along with the European Union and the European Investment Bank, targeting to develop a sound investment climate and promote environmentally and socially sound and sustainable development.

5/22/2018 4:34:10 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Tuesday in red, market cap. loses LE 4.5B]]>
The benchmark EGX30 slipped 0.73 percent, or 123.25 points, to close at 16,657.66 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 declined 0.45 percent, or 13.2 points, to reach 2,901.50 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 edged down 0.08 percent, or 0.65 points, closing at 859.76 points, and the broader index EGX100 went down 0.34 percent, or 7.37 points, to close at 2,188.86 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 4.47 billion ($249.58 million), recording LE 948.42 billion, compared to LE 952.90 billion in Monday’s session.

The trading volume reached 163.97 million shares, traded through 20,772 transactions, with a turnover of LE 1.09 billion.

Egyptian investors were net sellers at LE 41.43 million, while Arab and foreign investors were net buyers at LE 10.68 million and LE 30.75 million, respectively.

Arab and foreign individuals were net sellers at LE 2.39 million and LE 68.88 million, respectively, while Egyptian individuals were net buyers at LE 37.58 million.

Arab and Foreign organizations bought at LE 13.07 million and LE 99.63 million, respectively, while Egyptian organizations sold at LE 79.02 million.

El Arabia Engineering Industries, Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, and General Company For Land Reclamation, Development & Reconstruction were top gainers of the session by 10 percent, 9.95 percent and 9.91 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, El Kahera Housing, Sues Canal Company for Technology Settling, and Sabaa International Company for Pharmaceutical and Chemical were top losers of the session by 8.75 percent, 7.16 percent and 4.56 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Monday’s session on a semi-collective rise, as the EGX30 edged down 0.01 percent while the EGX50 rose 0.59 percent, the EGX70 increased 0.79 percent and the EGX100 went up 0.59 percent.

Trading on the EGX during the holy month of Ramadan is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).
5/22/2018 2:38:57 PM
<![CDATA[Suez Canal’s revenues in April jump to $479.3M]]>
On a month-on-month basis, the revenues increased 3.3 percent, as the canal recorded revenues of $463.9 million in March.

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Mohab Mamish, said in March that the canal’s revenues rose 15 percent in the first two months of 2018, recording $887 million, compared to $771 million in the same two months of 2017.

In February 2018, the revenues of the canal reached $435.8 million, compared to $541.9 million in January of the same year, marking an increase of 3.56 percent.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said earlier that the revenues of Suez Canal reached LE 12.2 billion in the first quarter of 2017/2018, compared to LE 11.5 billion in the first quarter of the previous year, with a 6.1 percent increase.

In 2017, Suez Canal revenues rose to $5.3 billion from $5 billion in 2016.

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans.

It is also considered to be one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes and it is a source of foreign currency for Egypt.
5/22/2018 1:10:08 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's amb. in Tokyo probes enhancing cooperation with JETRO]]>
The meeting came in the wake of a recent visit made by JETRO chief to Cairo and his meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the Egyptian diplomat asserted that Japanese companies have vast investment opportunities in the mega projects which are currently being implemented by the Egyptian government especially in view of the economic reforms that have recently been launched with the aim of improving the investment climate and providing necessary guarantees for foreign companies, citing the recent cancellation of restrictions on transfer of foreign currencies.

Meanwhile, JETRO chief voiced happiness over visiting Egypt, asserting that he floated a number of proposals to enhance cooperation with Egypt through several seminars and sending missions from the Japanese companies to Egypt.

The meeting also pored over the impediments standing in the way of increasing Egypt's agricultural exports to Japan, especially citrus exports, along with potentials of upping the export of textile and construction materials to the Japanese market.

The two sides agreed on continuing coordination in the coming phase with the Japanese business community to expound the recent positive progress achieved in the Egyptian market and available investment opportunities offered by Egypt.]]>
5/22/2018 1:07:54 PM
<![CDATA[Telecom Egypt, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank sign dlrs 200m deal]]>
The company's CEO, Ahmed el Beheiri, said the company's board approved a short term credit line offered by the bank in order to secure liquid money to develop the company's infrastructure.

Meanwhile, George Elombi, the Executive Vice President African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), said the deal will have a direct impact on developing the regional infrastructure network.

It will also help in launching several communication services in Africa, he said.

CEO of the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in Egypt Mohamed Aly hailed the deal as a cogent proof of the bank's effective strategy for realizing growth and promoting cooperation with local and international companies and institutions.]]>
5/22/2018 1:06:58 PM
<![CDATA[Petroleum min., EBRD delegation discuss Egypt's future as regional gas trading hub]]>
During their meeting, Molla asserted deeply-rooted ties between the two sides, saying they shared common vision and action programs aiming at promoting sustainable development and developing environmental standards in the various fields of oil and gas industry in Egypt.

The two sides also discussed the outcome of economic reforms that positively contributed to achieving good economic indicators in the recent period.

They also mulled the implementation of a project on handling emissions from oil and gas production operations.

Talks also took up EBRD's financial contribution to a project to expand the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for vehicles in Egypt. Compressed natural gas (CNG) (methane stored at high pressure) is a fuel which can be used in place of gasoline, Diesel fuel and propane/LPG.

For their part, the EBRD officials extolled Egypt's potentials, expressing their full support for this project that will provide alternative sources of energy to secure gas supplies to European countries.]]>
5/22/2018 1:04:55 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar price stable at major banks]]>
The dollar rate stood at LE17.77 for buying and LE17.87 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr.

At Banque du Caire, the dollar was stable at LE 17.85 for buying and LE17.95 for selling.

At the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the dollar went up by one piaster recording LE17.85 for buying and LE17.95 for selling.

At the Arab African International Bank, the dollar rate increased by one piaster reaching LE17.84 for buying and LE17.94 for selling.

At Alexandria Bank, the dollar rate registered LE17.83 for buying and LE17.93 for selling.

The rate at the National Bank of Greece and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank recorded LE17.87 for buying and LE17.97 for selling.]]>
5/22/2018 1:03:59 PM
<![CDATA[Finance Ministry: Budget deficit reaches EGP 218bn in 7 months]]>
This deficit makes up 5.1 percent of the total GDP, it noted.

Revenues upped to 353.7 billion pounds from 273.2 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal year, the report read.

It attributed the increase to a rise in tax revenues from 198.7 billion pounds to 291.9 billion.

Non-tax revenues have, meanwhile, dropped from 74.6 billion pounds during the first half of 2016-2017 down to 61.9 billion during the same period of this fiscal year, the report added.

The report also pointed to an upturn in expenditures to 570.2 billion pounds in seven months compared with 464.4 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal year. ]]>
5/22/2018 1:02:19 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt sets deadlines for oil and gas exploration bids]]>
Bids for 11 blocs offered by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EPGC) must be submitted by October 1, the ministry said in an advertisement published in the state-run al-Ahram newspaper.

Companies interested in 16 concession areas offered under state-buyer EGAS must submit their bids by October 8, it said.

The EPGC tenders include five blocks in the Western Desert, two in the Nile Valley, three in the Gulf of Suez and one in the Eastern Desert.

The EGAS tender, described by the ministry as the largest in the company’s history, includes 13 offshore Mediterranean blocks and 3 in the Nile Delta.]]>
5/22/2018 12:47:55 PM
<![CDATA[Qabil leads Egypt delegation to joint committee meetings in Russia]]>
The 11th session of the committee is set to focus on Egyptian-Russian cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, industry, energy, education, agriculture, IT, health, transport and tourism, Qabil said in a statement released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Tuesday.

Figuring high on the agenda is a project to establish a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, Qabil noted.

Participants will also tackle non-tariff barriers that hinder a smooth trade exchange between the two countries, he added.

The committee is also set to resume talks on the return of Russian tourism to Egypt, the minister noted.]]>
5/22/2018 11:20:38 AM
<![CDATA[Business News Wrap-up]]>Egypt to hold 2 international bid rounds for oil, gas exploration

Egypt will launch two international bid rounds for oil and gas exploration in 2018, the petroleum ministry said in a statement on Monday.

EMRA takes $195.1M on profit account from Sukari mine

Egypt has reached a total of $195.1 million on profit account from the Sukari Gold Mine since the start of dividing profits between Centamin Egypt Company and the Egyptian Mineral Resource Authority (EMRA) in October 2016 till April 2018, General Manager of Centamin Company Youssef el-Raghy said.

Egypt adopts strategy to upgrade cotton cultivation, textile industry

The government in Egypt is keen on upgrading the system of cotton cultivation and textile industry to better meet demands of the local market and enhance exports, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said Monday.

Egypt’s industrial production records LE 145.3B in Q3 2017

Egypt’s industrial production (without crude oil and petroleum products) increased 7.2 percent during the third quarter of 2017, recording LE 145.3 billion ($8.14 billion), compared to LE 135.5 billion in the same quarter of 2016, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

EGX ends Monday on semi-collective rise

The Egyptian Exchange’s (EGX) indices marked a semi-collective rise by the end of Monday’s session, and market capitalization gained LE 6.4 billion ($358.55 million) amid Egyptian purchases.

Preparatory meetings of Egypt-Russia ministerial committee kick off in Moscow

Preparatory meetings of 11th session of the Egyptian-Russian ministerial committee kicked off in the Russian capital Moscow on Monday under Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil and his Russian counterpart Denis Valentinovich Manturo.

Misr Insurance, Misr Life Insurance to list shares EGX

Misr Insurance Company (MIC) and Misr Life Insurance Company (MLIC) will have part of their shares listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX).

TE subsidiary signs agreement to buy MENA for $90M

Telecom Egypt (TE) announced that its subsidiary Egyptian International Submarine Cables Company (EISCC) signed an agreement with Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding S.A.E (OTMT) to buy its shareholding of its subsidiary Middle East and North Africa Submarine Cable (MENA) for $90 million.
5/21/2018 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[TE subsidiary signs agreement to buy MENA for $90M]]>
The company said in a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) that the transaction will be concluded in 60 days, after the fulfillment of all conditions.
It said that the acquisition of MENA Cable matches the company’s strategy to achieve a short-term return from this investment and preserve the revenue stream of the submarine cable systems.

On May 10, TE’s board of directors approved the acquisition of MENA Cable by its subsidiary EISCC with a total enterprise value of $90 million to be financed through a shareholder loan from TE.

EISCC appointed KPMG and First Capital Financial Advisory as the financial advisors of the deal, while Al Tamimi & Co and ALC Law Office were the legal advisors and Metel ICT the technical advisor.

According to the statement, MENA Cable is licensed in Egypt and Italy to operate a submarine telecommunications system connecting Europe to the Middle East and South East Asia.

“The decision to acquire MENA Cable is one of the most important steps towards implementing the company’s strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of submarine cable revenues and reinforce the contribution of the USD revenue stream,” said Ahmed El Beheiry, managing director and CEO of TE.

“The new cable will add to Telecom Egypt’s network of submarine cables fortifying TE’s network offering to the maximum number of routes between India and Europe, as well as add a new gateway to Europe through Italy,” he added.

Established in 1854, Telecom Egypt is a public company, listed on the EGX since December 1999.

It operates within the telecommunication services sector, focusing on integrated telecommunication services, with 17 subsidiaries operating across the British islands, Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
5/21/2018 3:46:32 PM
<![CDATA[Misr Insurance, Misr Life Insurance to list shares EGX]]>
An agreement to this effect was made at an extraordinary general assembly meeting of the state-run Misr Insurance Holding Co. (MIHC) which was convened under the chairmanship of Public Business Sector Minister Khaled Badawi.

The Public Business Sector Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Badawi said, during the meeting, that the government's initial public offering (IPO) program aims at promoting the Egyptian bourse and luring more foreign investments.

The minister also chaired an ordinary general assembly meeting of MIHC to adopt the budget for the fiscal year 2018/2019, which targets revenues of LE 1.550 billion , with an increase of 36 percent and net profits of LE 1.195 billion, with an increase of 29 percent compared to the budget for the fiscal year 2016/2017. ]]>
5/21/2018 3:44:26 PM
<![CDATA[Preparatory meetings of Egypt-Russia ministerial committee kick off in Moscow]]>
The meetings aim at boosting cooperation in various fields topped by trade along with industrial and technical domains, said a statement issued by the Egyptian Commercial Service Office.

The statement pointed out that the participants will discuss a large number of files in the fields of trade, industry, energy, education, agriculture, communication and information technology, health, transport and tourism.

The committee will wrap up its meetings at the ministerial level on Wednesday, said the statement, adding that discussions will tackle the project of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, means to overcome non-customs obstacles that obstruct trade movement between the two countries and efforts to document Egyptian medicines and fish export companies in Russia.

Today talks were attended by Egyptian Ambassador in Moscow Ihab Nasr as the Egyptian delegation toured Moscow Technopolis zone which is considered one of the most important industrial areas in Russia.

For his part, Egyptian trade commissioner in Russia Nasser Hamed said the Egyptian delegation's visit to Technopolis zone aimed at getting acquainted with Russia's industrial potentials as Technopolis will establish and run the Russian industrial zone in east Port Said.

The delegation's tour of the zone included visits to metal and technology factories and plants producing medicines, heavy machinery, vehicles, auto components and electric buses.]]>
5/21/2018 3:10:06 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Monday on semi-collective rise]]>
The benchmark EGX30 edged down 0.01 percent, or 1.16 points, to close at 16,780.91 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 rose 0.59 percent, or 17.22 points, to reach 2,914.70 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 jumped 0.79 percent, or 6.74 points, closing at 860.41 points, and the broader index EGX100 climbed 0.59 percent, or 12.98 points, to close at 2,196.23 points.

Market capitalization gained LE 6.4 billion, recording LE 952.90 billion, compared to LE 946.48 billion in Sunday’s session.

The trading volume reached 142.28 million shares, traded through 18,895 transactions, with a turnover of LE 771.9 million.

Egyptian investors were net buyers at LE 61.88 million, while Arab and foreign investors were net sellers at LE 13.09 million and LE 48.79 million, respectively.

Egyptian and Arab individuals were net buyers at LE 9.25 million and LE 1.83 million, respectively, while foreign individuals were net sellers at LE 7.93 million.

Arab and Foreign organizations sold at LE 14.92 million and LE 40.86 million, respectively, while Egyptian organizations bought at LE 52.64 million.

Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, El Arabia Engineering Industries, and El Nasr for Manufacturing Agricultural Crops were top gainers of the session by 9.97 percent, 9.91 percent and 7.68 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Alexandria New Medical Center, Middle & West Delta Flour Mills, and Alexandria Cement were top losers of the session by 9.97 percent, 9.07 percent and 7.07 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Sunday’s session on mixed performance, as the EGX30 declined 0.57 percent and the EGX50 slipped 0.05 percent, while the EGX70 rose 0.17 percent and the EGX100 went up 0.08 percent.

Trading on the EGX during the holy month of Ramadan is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).
5/21/2018 2:29:11 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s industrial production records LE 145.3B in Q3 2017]]>
CAPMAS noted that food product industries allocated 19 percent of the total amount of industrial production, followed by iron and steel by 17 percent, and basic chemicals and fertilizers’ industries by 10.2 percent.

The value of the food products industry decreased 17.1 percent in Q3 2017 on a quarter-on-quarter basis, recording LE 27.6 billion in Q3 2017, compared to LE 33.3 billion in Q2 2017.

CAPMAS attributed this decline to the low demand for the products of the mills in the bread system, which led to a reduction in production, as well as the end of the seasonal sugar companies’ reeds.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the value of chemical and pharmaceutical products amounted to LE 7.9 billion in Q3 2017 compared to LE 6.3 billion for the prior quarter, marking an increase of 24 percent, due to the emergence of a new production line and increasing the production of medicines.

The value of petrochemical products reached LE 14.8 billion, compared to LE 14.2 in the previous quarter, with an increase of 3.9 percent.

CAPMAS announced earlier that Egypt’s manufacturing and extractive industries’ index (without crude oil and petroleum products) increased 0.8 percent in February 2018, recording 123.69 points, compared to 122.65 points in the same month of 2017.

Industrial production is a measure of output of the industrial sector of the economy, including mining, manufacturing, utilities and, in some cases, construction.
5/21/2018 2:25:12 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar rate stable at major banks]]>
The dollar rate stood at LE 17.77 for buying and LE 17.87 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt.

The rate at the National Bank of Greece and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank recorded LE 17.87 for buying and LE 17.97 for selling.

At the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the dollar was stable at LE 17.84 for buying and LE 17.94 for selling.

At Alexandria Bank and the Arab African International Bank, the dollar rate registered LE 17.83 for buying and LE 17.93 for selling.

The rate at Banque Misr registered LE 17.77 for buying and LE 17.87 for selling and at Banque du Caire the rate recorded LE 17.85 for buying and LE17.95 for selling.]]>
5/21/2018 1:43:51 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt adopts strategy to upgrade cotton cultivation, textile industry]]>
In a meeting of the Supreme Council of Textile Industries, Kabil stressed the importance of a national strategy outlined by his Ministry to expand production and solve problems.

A clear map of textile industries in Egypt is needed to be able to perfectly determine gaps between supply and demand, the minister said.

According to him, this should also help define priorities to lure foreign investments and maximize the value added of Egyptian cotton.

The Ministry of Trade, Kabil said, is keen on coordinating efforts with the Ministry of Agriculture to increase cotton cultivated lots in a way that would help meet needs of the local market. ]]>
5/21/2018 12:57:58 PM
<![CDATA[Transport min. discusses training program with Chinese delegation]]>
The trainees should attend two years of the course in China and the third year in Egypt, according to a statement by the Transport Ministry.

This program is only the start, the Chinese delegation made it clear, noting that many training courses would follow.

Arafat said his Ministry is working on a comprehensive plan to hone skills of human cadres in order to cope with global and technological changes and upgrade the different sectors of the Ministry.]]>
5/21/2018 12:13:37 PM
<![CDATA[EMRA takes $195.1M on profit account from Sukari mine]]>
According to Schedule, Centamin Egypt, which operates the Sukari gold mine, is targeting to pay some $137 million to the Egyptian Mineral Resource Authority (EMRA) in 2018.

Raghy added on Monday that the Sukari mine’s total gold production has recorded 106.7 tons since the beginning of production in 2010 till last April, clarifying that April’s production reached 1.2 tons.

The Sukari Gold Mining Company targets producing around 560,000 ounces of gold in 2018, up from 550,000 ounces in 2017, he noted.

Raghy announced in April that gold production at Sukari mine has recorded 105.5 tons at the end of March since 2010.

Exports of Sukari Gold Mine represent 2 percent of the Egyptian exports balance, according to Centamin official reports.

Two companies are operating in Egypt right now to produce gold, which are Australian Pharaonic Company that operates in the Sukari mine and Cyprus-based Mats Holdings, which operates in the Hamsh mine.

For exploration and drilling of gold, other two gold companies are operating in Egypt, which are Canadian Aton Mining and UAE’s Thani Dubai.

In accordance with the terms of the Concession Agreement, EMRA is entitled to share 50 percent of the Sukari mine’s net production surplus.

The government said earlier that it aims to increase the mining sector's contribution to the GDP to more than 5 percent. It currently contributes around 0.5 percent of the GDP.

Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Tarek el Molla said that the government is working to identify the challenges facing the sector and that his ministry aims to boost investments by amending the sector's administrative and legislative systems.

Located in the south-easternmost region of the Eastern Desert, Sukari mine is the first large-scale modern gold mine in Egypt, with a base case production rate of about 500,000 ounces per annum, according to the official website of Centamin.

Sukari Gold Mine, the country's sole gold-exporting mine, started operations in January 2010, with an average monthly production of 1.2-1.5 tons of gold.

5/21/2018 12:11:09 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to hold 2 international bid rounds for oil, gas exploration]]>
One bid round will cover 16 concession areas, mostly in the Mediterranean Sea, under state buyer EGAS, in its largest ever bid round.

The other auction will cover 11 concession areas under the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC), the statement said.

Italian energy group Eni’s 2015 discovery of the mammoth Zohr gas field has increased Egypt’s appetite for international exploration auctions as it seeks to attain natural gas self-sufficiency by end-2018.

Egypt signed a $105 million exploration agreement with Eni and an Egyptian oil company this month to search for more oil and gas off the coast of northern Sinai, the oil minister said on Wednesday. ]]>
5/21/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[CBE issues LE2.7B in T-bonds Monday]]>
The T-bonds were offered in two installments, with the first valued at LE 1.25 billion with a 10-year term and the second worth LE 1.5 billion with a five-year term.

The Finance Ministry plans to issue treasury bonds worth LE 438.750 billion during the fourth quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year 2017/18.

For the current fiscal year, the budget deficit is estimated to record LE 370 billion, and it is planned by the ministry to be financed through treasury bills and bonds as well as international and Arab loans.
5/21/2018 11:26:03 AM
<![CDATA[Stocks, oil and dollar rise as trade war put 'on hold']]>
European stocks opened higher with the pan-European STOXX 600 up 0.3 percent, while U.S. S&P mini futures ESc1 rose 0.5 percent following a positive session in Asia led by strong gains in greater China.

“There’s certainly a ‘feel-good’ sentiment on risky assets” due to the U.S. trade announcement, said Stephane Barbier de la Serre, a strategist at Makor Capital Markets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared the U.S. trade war with China “on hold” following an agreement to drop their tariff threats that had roiled global markets this year.

Mnuchin and U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the agreement reached by Chinese and American negotiators on Saturday set up a framework for addressing trade imbalances in the future.

Barbier de la Serre cautioned, however, that given the lack of details available about the agreement between the U.S. and China, it was too early to call it a definitive turning point.

He added that a number of question marks, such as on the prospects for world growth, inflation and rising rates, should also keep investors on their toes.

As safe-haven demand for debt fell, U.S. bond prices were under pressure, keeping their yields not far from last week’s peaks with the 10-year Treasuries yield at 3.067 percent, US10YT=RR near a seven-year high of 3.128 percent hit on Friday.

In the currency market, higher U.S. yields helped to strengthen the dollar about 0.40 percent against a basket of currencies while the euro dipped 0.44 percent to $1.1723 EUR=.

The common currency was also under pressure as Italy’s far-right League and the 5-Star Movement agreed on a candidate to lead their planned coalition government and implement spending plans which some investors believe threaten the sustainability of the country’s debt pile.

Italy’s 10-year bond yield rose to 2.28 percent, their highest level since July 2017, pushing the gap with the benchmark German Bund to 1.73 percent.

The Milan bourse also suffered, down 1.1 percent with while the rest of Europe’s trading centers were un positive territory.

Oil prices held firm near 3-1/2-year highs also on easing trade tensions. Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $78.97 per barrel, up 0.6 percent.

The market is also keeping an eye on Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro faces fresh international censure after his re-election in a vote foes denounced as a farce, cementing autocracy in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.

Oil prices have been supported by plummeting Venezuelan production, in addition to a solid global demand and supply concerns stemming from tensions in the Middle East.]]>
5/21/2018 11:12:12 AM
<![CDATA[Oil prices rise as China, U.S. put trade war 'on hold']]>
Brent crude futures were at $79.06 per barrel at 0650 GMT, up 55 cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last close. Brent broke through $80 for the first time since November 2014 last week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $71.71 a barrel, up 43 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement.

The U.S. trade war with China is “on hold” after the world’s largest economies agreed to drop their tariff threats while they work on a wider trade agreement, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday, giving global markets a lift in early trading on Monday.

“The temporary trade dispute will de-escalate over time through negotiation,” U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said.

“Both sides plan to work on implementing agriculture and energy purchases and to continue to negotiate on manufacturing and service trade, bilateral investment and intellectual property protection in coming months,” it added.

Still, crude prices were some way off the November 2014 highs reached last week as many traders and analysts say there is enough supply to meet demand despite ongoing production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), plunging output in crisis-struck Venezuela and looming U.S. sanctions against major oil producer Iran.

“Without a further escalation in geopolitical risk, oil might be due a pullback,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

BP’s Chief Executive Bob Dudley told Reuters he expected a flood of U.S. shale and a possible reopening of OPEC taps to cool oil markets after crude rose above $80 a barrel last week.

Dudley said he saw oil prices falling to between $50 and $65 a barrel due to surging shale output and OPEC’s capacity to boost production to replace potential falls in Iranian supplies due to sanctions.

The U.S. oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, was at 844, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes. That was the same count as the week before, which marked the highest level since March 2015.]]>
5/21/2018 10:55:34 AM
<![CDATA[Dollar surges to a five-month high as rally spreads]]>
Against a basket of its peers, the greenback rose above the 94 line for the first time since late-December 2017.

Since its rally began on April 17, the dollar has surged more than 5 percent, its biggest rising streak since late 2015, just before the U.S. Federal Reserve’s first interest rate rise since the 2008 financial crisis.]]>
5/21/2018 10:53:08 AM
<![CDATA[GE nears deal to merge transportation unit with Wabtec - sources]]>
A deal valuing the combined business at more than $20 billion could be announced as early as this week, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

It would be the biggest deal thus far to be inked by GE Chief Executive Officer John Flannery, who took over last August with a mandate to slash costs and boost the U.S. industrial conglomerate’s plummeting stock price.

There is always a possibility that the deal talks, which center on using a tax-efficient structure called a Reverse Morris Trust, could collapse at the last minute, the sources cautioned.

GE and Wabtec did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Flannery told GE’s annual shareholder meeting last month that the company is “keenly aware of the pain” caused by its poor performance and dividend cut last year. Executives are trying to turn around the ailing power and oil and gas businesses, he told shareholders, adding that there is evidence of “green shoots” of improvement.

GE has taken several actions to prune its portfolio over the years, shedding plastics, NBCUniversal and most of its GE Capital business. It also combined its oilfield services business with Baker Hughes (BHGE.N).

GE’s transportation business, which generated revenue of $4.7 billion, manufactures freight and passenger trains, marine diesel engines and mining equipment, among other products.

Wabtec, which has a market capitalization of $9.2 billion, manufactures equipment for locomotives, freight cars, and passenger transit vehicles.

Following a board of director shake-up, Flannery has pledged to cut $2 billion in cost for 2018 and to slash the company’s once-coveted dividend in half.

GE’s stock has lost about half its value in the last year, and the company has been working with activist hedge fund Trian Fund Management LP, which sits on its board of directors, to turn the business around.

A Reverse Morris Trust transaction allows a company to avoid a big tax bill by spinning off a unit that it wants to divest and simultaneously merging it with another company.]]>
5/21/2018 10:50:21 AM
<![CDATA[BP back on its feet but CEO senses no respite]]>
“It doesn’t feel like we are in a serene time for any energy company,” Dudley told Reuters in an interview.

BP is stronger today than at any other time since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident.

With oil prices at their highest since late 2014 and BP shares back to levels not seen in more than 8 years, it is once again in a position to contemplate boosting dividends and acquiring, Dudley said.

Sitting in his office in BP’s central London headquarters in St James Square, Dudley, 62, said he intends to carry on leading the company into 2020 and navigate it through a phase of expansion and new uncertainty following a tumultuous eight years at the helm.

The oil and gas sector is looking to retain its relevance as economies battle climate change by weaning themselves from their dependence on fossil fuels, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

For BP, it is a two-speed race.

The 110-year old company is undergoing its fastest growth in recent history with new oil and gas fields from Egypt and Oman to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, riding a tide of higher oil prices following the 2014 downturn.

It is gradually paying off more than $65 billion in penalties and clean-up costs for the Deepwater Horizon accident which left 10 employees dead.

Regarding the danger of the company going bankrupt at the time, Dudley said: “The worst moment was when I heard that our debt was untradable back in the summer of 2010... To me that was a moment of the unthinkable was possible.”

Dudley says he no longer sees BP as an acquisition target after facing years of speculation it could be bought out.

The company is focused on increasing production and cash flow while reducing its large debt pile, after which it will consider boosting shareholder returns such as dividends although “we’re not at that point yet”, Dudley said.

Longer-term challenges also loom.

Investors are increasingly pressing energy companies to find ways to adapt to the energy transition, and Dudley is looking to strike a balance between reducing a large carbon footprint while securing revenue.

“This is the great dual challenge that the industry and BP faces: how to supply the world’s energy on multiple fronts of growing population and doing it with less emissions,” said Dudley, who was appointed to the helm of BP months after the April 2010 spill.

BP, like rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), is betting on natural gas, the least polluting hydrocarbon, to sustain an expected surge in demand for electricity as economies grow and transportation is electrified.

Gas is also playing a key role as a back-up to renewable energy such as wind and solar in power generation.

To that end, BP is expanding its gas production through new projects in Oman, Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago.

Gas already accounts for over 55 percent of its production.

“I am optimistic about the climate change if you can combine renewables wind and solar and natural gas. To me that’s part of the big answer,” Dudley said in an interview with Reuters.

In the early 2000s BP introduced the slogan “Beyond Petroleum” and adopted a sunburst logo after launching an $8 billion expansion into renewables. The company was forced to write off its solar business 10 years later, but still retains a large U.S. onshore wind business and biofuels plants.

Now, Dudley is taking a cautious approach, investing in smaller start-up companies in renewables, clean fuels and battery charging docks.

“We have to go slow and pick the right low carbon fuels,” he said. BP “will be a broad-based company that supplies all forms of energy that are needed that can be done economically.”

The company will invest $500 million per year in low-carbon energy and technology in the coming years out of a total spending of $15 to $17 billion, a range which Dudley said the company could stay within.

“If a shareholder or someone else came to BP tomorrow and said here is $10 billion to invest in low carbon energies for us, we would not know how to do that yet.”

BP is also expanding its vast global network of petrol stations and investing in convenience stores and charging spots, hoping to retain its dominant brand as electric vehicles become more popular.

“I’m not worried about BP in this area. The most strategic thing we can do is to get our balance sheet strong so that when we have the firepower we can do anything in these areas.”


BP expects demand for oil to peak in the late 2030s, after which it will plateau and gradually decline.

For BP, whose roots go back to 1908 with the discovery of Iran’s first oil field, the days of the black gold are far from dead.

While oil prices in recent weeks have hit their highest levels since late 2014 at $80 a barrel, BP are working on an assumption that prices will remain at a range of $50-$65 per barrel due to surging U.S. shale output and OPEC’s ability to crank up output.

Mega projects involving complex, multi-billion facilities such as huge offshore platforms that came to symbolize the technological prowess of the world’s top oil companies are most likely a thing of the past, Dudley said.

Instead, BP is opting for phased developments that require less capital and less time to construct, which make them easier to control at a time of uncertainty over oil prices.

“Many of the companies in the industry are remembering the lesson learnt during the $100 oil era (which) is take it in phases,” Dudley said.

BP is applying this approach in many of its main production hubs such as Egypt and Gulf of Mexico, where it can continue raising production into the early 2020s, Dudley said.

BP’s oil and gas output is set to reach around 4 million bpd by the end of the decade, a level last seen in 2009, with more than a fifth of that coming from projects started since 2016.

It is partnering with top oil producing nations which have some of the lowest costs of extraction such as Oman, Azerbaijan and most importantly Russia, where BP has a 19.75 percent stake in Rosneft (ROSN.MM) and where it draws one third of its production.

BP has a relatively small shale business, focused mostly on gas, but Dudley is considering growing in the sector, which has attracted billions of dollars in investments in recent years.

“(Shale) comes down to economics and competitiveness on what is on offer. So far they feel overheated... it is not a burning need to fill that in the portfolio, but if it is attractive, we will.”

BP could place a bid for BHP Billiton’s (BLT.L) shale assets, Dudley said.


BP’s position in Russia has put the firm in the spotlight as the United States and Europe tighten sanctions on Moscow.

Dudley, who sits on the board of Rosneft, believes BP can continue there and act as a bridge between countries.

“We don’t apologize for doing business in Russia,” said Dudley. “Certainly today within the boundaries of the sanctions we can and do operate without issues.”

BP will continue to operate in Russia and expand projects with Rosneft even though the company has had to turn down certain offers to develop projects offshore or in the Arctic, he said.

Dudley also said BP remained committed to its stake in Rosneft, which it received following the 2013 sale of TNK-BP.]]>
5/21/2018 10:45:16 AM
<![CDATA[China praises positive steps in U.S. trade row, says didn't give in]]>
A trade war was “on hold” after the world’s largest economies agreed to drop their tariff threats while they work on a wider trade agreement, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.

The previous day, Beijing and Washington said they would keep talking about measures under which China would import more energy and agricultural commodities from the United States to narrow the $335 billion annual U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China.

The official China Daily said everyone could heave a sigh of relief at the ratcheting down of the rhetoric, and cited China’s chief negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, as saying the talks had proved to be “positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive”.

“Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold,’ as U.S. President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk,” the English-language newspaper said in an editorial.

“That the U.S. finally shared this willingness, means the two sides have successfully averted the head-on confrontation that at one point seemed inevitable”, it said.

During an initial round of talks this month in Beijing, the United States demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion. No dollar figure was cited in the countries’ joint statement on Saturday.

But some analysts in Beijing warned that trade tension would persist, and that China should prepare for more action on trade from the Trump administration.

“We should not be blindly optimistic,” Shi Yinhong, an expert on China-U.S. relations at Renmin University in Beijing said at a forum on Sunday after the trade agreement was announced.

“Blind optimism (could lead to) China losing at this crossroads.”

Shi said China could accept a lower trade surplus and reduce its market entry barriers, but would not compromise on its industrial policy.


The ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said that in the energy and agriculture sectors the two countries had obvious synergies, with the United States having the capacity to satisfy the massive Chinese market.

“The ballast stone of Sino-U.S. ties are an equal and mutually beneficial trade and business relationship. Its essence is win-win cooperation,” it said.

But China was not being forced to increase imports as a way to ward off the trade tensions or because the country had submitted to outside pressure, the newspaper said in a commentary.

China will naturally need to import more to satisfy demand from its increasingly affluent consumers, the newspaper wrote.

“Trade wars have no winners,” it added in the commentary, published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.

However, some people in U.S. business groups, who had been pushing for tougher U.S. policies to pressure China to reform market barriers, expressed frustration and disappointment, saying it would be hard for the administration to rebuild momentum to take on Chinese industrial policies.

James Zimmerman, a Beijing-based lawyer and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the Trump administration’s move to walk back its threatened trade actions was premature, and a “lost opportunity” for American companies, workers and consumers.

“The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,” Zimmerman said.]]>
5/21/2018 10:38:07 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. underscores importance of concluding new NAFTA deal]]>
Sullivan and Videgaray discussed “continued cooperation on managing a shared border and the importance of working together to disrupt transnational criminal organizations,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“The Deputy also emphasized the importance of concluding a NAFTA deal,” said Nauert.

Canada, the United States and Mexico are renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Talks to reach a deal on reworking the 24-year-old accord have intensified in recent weeks, pressed by U.S. congressional deadlines and a common will to reach an agreement before Mexico’s July 1 presidential election.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that President Donald Trump is focused on getting a good NAFTA deal, whether it is passed by the current or future U.S. Congress. He said Trump is not focused on specific deadlines.]]>
5/21/2018 10:33:28 AM
<![CDATA[Stocks rally after Mnuchin says Sino-U.S. trade war 'on hold']]>
U.S. S&P mini futures ESc1 rose 0.60 percent in Asian trade on Monday. European stocks are expected to follow suit, with spread-betters seeing a higher opening of 0.7 percent in Britain's FTSE .FTSE and 0.4 percent in Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS advanced 0.45 percent, led by strong gains in greater China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI was up 1.3 percent, Taiwanese shares .TWII 1.3 percent.

The Shanghai Shenzen CSI 300 .CSI300 gained 0.7 percent, hitting five-week highs.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 gained 0.4 percent.

Mnuchin and U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the agreement reached by Chinese and American negotiators on Saturday set up a framework for addressing trade imbalances in the future.

“The weekend talks appear to have made progress. While they still need to work out details of a wider trade deal, it is positive for markets that they struck a truce,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

As safe-haven demand for debt fell, U.S. bond prices were under pressure, keeping their yields not far from last week’s peaks.

The 10-year Treasuries yield stood at 3.076 percent US10YT=RR, near a seven-year high of 3.128 percent hit on Friday.

“Recent data suggests the U.S. economy is very strong, hardly slowing down in Jan-Mar. The world economy slowed in that quarter but it appears to be rebounding. And recent rises in oil prices are likely to lift inflation expectations further,” said Tomoaki Shishido, senior fixed income analyst at Nomura Securities.

“We expect more selling until the next Fed’s meeting in June,” he said.

In the currency market, higher U.S. yields helped to strengthen the dollar against a wide range of currencies.

The euro dipped 0.2 percent to $1.1748 EUR=, hitting its lowest level since mid-December.

The common currency was also hit after two anti-establishment parties pledged to increase spending in a deal to form a new coalition government in Italy.

The dollar maintained an uptrend against the yen, rising 0.5 percent to 110.29 yen, JPY=, a high last seen in January.

Some emerging market currencies remained fragile. The Indonesian rupiah IDR= dropped 0.3 percent to 2 1/2-year lows and the Turkish lira TRYTOM=D3 slipped 0.7 percent to record lows.

Oil prices held firm near 3-1/2-year highs, drawing support from easing trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

The market is keeping an eye on Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro won a new six-year term, an outcome that could trigger additional sanctions from the United States and more censure from the European Union and Latin America.

Oil prices have been supported by plummeting Venezuelan production, in addition to a solid global demand and supply concerns stemming from tensions in the Middle East.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.8 percent to CLc1 $71.83 per barrel, near last week’s 3 1/2-year high of $72.30 while Brent crude futures LCOc1 notched up 0.8 percent to $79.10 per barrel. It had risen to $80.50 last week, its highest since November 2014.

Venezuelan debt is barely traded in Asia but bonds issued by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA maturing in 2020 VE151299784= were quoted at a yield around 19.4 percent, a tad above last week’s low around 18.4 percent.

Elsewhere U.S. soybeans Sv1 jumped 2 percent on the Sino-U.S. agreement to drop tariff threats. In April, China proposed a 25 percent duty on U.S. soybeans as part of its response to Washington’s plans to impose tariffs on a range of Chinese products.]]>
5/21/2018 10:31:07 AM
<![CDATA[Textile exports rise to $288 million in 4 months- group]]>
The council said it has signed a cooperation protocol with Tunisia, aimed at boosting the trade exchange and investments between Cairo and Tunis.]]>
5/21/2018 9:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Business News Wrap-up]]>SODIC, Madinet Nasr appoint advisors for cooperation

Sixth of October Development & Investment (SODIC) and Madinet Nasr Housing appointed the advisors to their possible cooperation whether by merging or acquisition.

SODIC announced in a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) that EFG Hermes and Zaki Hashem & Partners - Attorneys at Law are going to be the advisors to Madinet Nasr, while CI Capital and MHR & Partners (White & Case) will be SODIC’s advisors.

Beltone’s board approves acquisition stake in Oragroup

Beltone Financial Holdings (BTFH) announced the approval of its board to acquire a controlling stake in Oragroup, which is a bank in Africa with 143 branches serving over 400,000 clients in 12 African countries in Western and Central Africa.

FRA launches 1st electronic platform for exchange of insurance sector data

Chairman of the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) Mohamed Omran said the FRA has launched an electronic platform in cooperation with Insurance Federation of Egypt (IFE) for the exchange of data and information of insurance companies.

EGX ends Sunday on mixed performance, market cap. loses LE 1.9B

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) ended Sunday on a mixed note and market capitalization lost LE 1.9 billion ($106.51 million) amid Egyptian and Arab selling.

The benchmark EGX30 declined 0.57 percent, or 95.59 points, to close at 16,782.07 points.

Offers by 3 consortiums to establish Hamrawein power plant :PM

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail reviewed Sunday offers by three international consortiums to establish a power generation plant using clean coal technology.

Trade min. attends signing of agreement on Egyptian cotton brand

Trade and Industry Minister TareK Kabil attended on Sunday the signing ceremony of an agreement to manage rights of the "Egyptian Cotton" brand.

The three-year deal was inked by the ministry, the Egyptian cotton exporters association and Cotton Egypt Association.

Finance ministry auctions T-bills worth LE14.5bn

The Finance Ministry auctioned on Sunday treasury bills at a total value of LE 14.5 billion.

In an online statement, the ministry said it auctioned 91-day T-bills worth LE 7.250 billion with an average interest rate hitting 19.125 percent. The yield ranged between 17.9 percent and 19.221 percent.

PM reviews implementation of some electricity projects

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the government is offering incentives to help attract more investments in the fields of energy and electricity with the aim to diversify sources of energy.
5/20/2018 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[PM reviews implementation of some electricity projects]]>
Ismail said the government is offering incentives to help attract more investments in the fields of energy and electricity with the aim to diversify sources of energy.

If everything works according to plan, renewable energy should make up 20 percent of the produced energy by 2022 and 30 percent by 2030.]]>
5/20/2018 4:39:23 PM
<![CDATA[Finance ministry auctions T-bills worth LE 14.5bn]]>
In an online statement, the ministry said it auctioned 91-day T-bills worth LE 7.250 billion with an average interest rate hitting 19.125 percent. The yield ranged between 17.9 percent and 19.221 percent.

It also auctioned 266-day T-bills worth LE 7.250 billion. The yield ranged between 18.3 percent to 18.999 percent. ]]>
5/20/2018 4:32:20 PM
<![CDATA[Kuwait Energy appoints adviser as it looks to sell Iraq asset]]>
The move is aimed at creating much-needed liquidity for the company’s shareholders and a cash buffer to repay its debt, the sources said.

Kuwait Energy and Perella Weinberg declined to comment.

The move comes after Kuwait Energy ended discussions on a possible merger with London-listed SOCO International earlier this year, saying the parties had not reached “mutually acceptable transaction terms”.

The Kuwaiti company, which is headquartered in Bahrain and has assets in Iraq, Oman, Egypt and Yemen, started the merger discussions after failing last year to complete an initial public offer of its shares on the London exchange, through which it had hoped to raise about $150 million.

This led in December to a board shake-up, which included the resignation of the company’s chief executive and co-founder, Sara Akbar, and the appointment of six new board directors.

Kuwait Energy earlier this year sold an 8.57 percent stake in Block 9 to Dragon Oil, a subsidiary of Dubai’s Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), for $100 million and has settled an ownership dispute with the Dubai entity by giving it an additional 6.43 percent stake in the block.

The company’s operations in Iraq are focused on three assets, including Block 9, while in Egypt it has interests in four oil and gas fields.

At the end of 2017, Kuwait Energy had a cash balance of $65.6 million. The company has an outstanding $250 million bond due in 2019, and it should start repayments of a convertible loan of around $150 million this year to an entity controlled by private equity group Abraaj.

The bonds, with a 9.5 percent coupon, are yielding around 14 percent, or at a cash price discount of five cents on the dollar, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Rating agency Fitch downgraded the company last year to CCC from B-(minus) as it believed the probability of default had increased due to the unsuccessful IPO attempt and the lack of alternative sources of long-term funding, combined with a low cash balance. ]]>
5/20/2018 4:01:42 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi flat, Drake and Scull International lifts Dubai]]>
The Saudi index was little changed, while the Dubai index closed up 0.2 percent. The rest of the region closed down, but with losses limited.

Global stocks dipped last Friday because of persistent concerns over trade tensions. Oil prices also slipped on Friday, with Brent crude futures falling 79 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $78.51 a barrel. But the dip came after a sixth week of gains, with prices breaking through $80 a barrel last week for the first time since November 2014.

Shares in Saudi oil and gas and petrochemical companies were mostly down on Sunday, despite some gains earlier in the day. Blue-chip Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) shed 0.2 percent, while Saudi Kayan Petrochemical edged down 0.1 percent.

Most of the trading was concentrated on real estate developer Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co., which was up 0.4 percent, and Alinma Bank, down 0.1 percent.

Real estate developer Jabal Omar Development was among the best performers, up 3.9 percent at the close – and it had been up more than 6 percent in earlier trading – after announcing an agreement with Albilad Capital to sell 90 housing units for 1.1 billion riyals ($293 million).

In Dubai, the index was lifted by gains of 2 percent and 1.7 percent by Dubai Financial Market and building contractor Drake and Scull International, respectively.

Drake and Scull International, by far the most traded stock in the market, reported last week a net profit attributable to shareholders of 16.2 million dirhams ($4.4 million) for the first quarter, swinging from a net loss of 722.5 million dirhams in the corresponding period last year.

Heavyweight Emaar Properties climbed 0.2 percent after a weak start earlier on Sunday.

The Abu Dhabi index edged down 0.1 percent, pressured by Sharjah Cement and Industrial Development Company, which lost 4.8 percent and was the most traded stock.

The Egyptian index lost 0.6 percent, but the most traded stock was Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding , which gained 2.4 percent.

* The index was flat at 8,018 points.

* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 2,919 points.

* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 4,426 points.

* The index shed 0.4 percent to 8,857 points.

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,771 points.

* The index lost 0.4 percent to 1,267 points.

* The index went down 0.6 percent to 4,590 points.

* The index shed 0.6 percent to 16,782 points.]]>
5/20/2018 3:58:33 PM
<![CDATA[Trade min. attends signing of agreement on Egyptian cotton brand]]>
The three-year deal was inked by the ministry, the Egyptian cotton exporters association and Cotton Egypt Association.

The agreement is meant to promote for products made of Egyptian cotton on local and international markets, Kabil said.

Under the agreement, a special unit will be formed to ensure the optimal use of the brand and to sign deals with international textile companies on that score, he added.

Moreover, a committee will be set up to approve and follow up the implementation of the marketing plan, Kabil noted. ]]>
5/20/2018 2:39:34 PM
<![CDATA[Offers by 3 consortiums to establish Hamrawein power plant :PM]]>
The plant should be built in el Hamrawein district of the Red Sea governorate with the aim to generate 6,000 megawatts.

This is part of a plan to diversify sources of energy in Egypt and upgrade the efficiency of stations that use gas to perform combined cycles, Ismail said.

He added that more energy and power production projects will be implemented in the coming stage, particularly in the field of renewable energy.

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said one of the offers worth 4.4 billion dollars was made by a Chinese consortium grouping Shanghai Electric and Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC).

A Japanese consortium comprising Mitsubishi and Hitachi in partnership with Egypt's Elsewedy Electric and Orascom Electric made an offer worth 6.19 billion dollars, Shaker said.

He added that the US' General Electric and China's Harbin Electric - the third consortium - made a $5.2 billion-offer. ]]>
5/20/2018 2:33:59 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Sunday on mixed performance, market cap. loses LE 1.9B]]>
The benchmark EGX30 declined 0.57 percent, or 95.59 points, to close at 16,782.07 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 edged down 0.05 percent, or 1.57 points, to reach 2,897.48 points.

On the other hand, the small- and mid-cap index EGX70 rose 0.17 percent, or 1.42 points, closing at 853.67 points, and the broader index EGX100 climbed 0.08 percent, or 1.8 points, to close at 2,183.25 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 1.9 billion, recording LE 946.48 billion, compared to LE 948.39 billion in Thursday’s session.

The trading volume reached 157.54 million shares, traded through 16,192 transactions, with a turnover of LE 613.15 million.

Foreign investors were net buyers at LE 32.51 million, while Egyptian and Arab investors were net sellers at LE 29.99 million and LE 2.51 million, respectively.

Arab and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 9.68 million and LE 24.13 million, respectively, while Egyptian individuals were net sellers at LE 5.22 million.

Egyptian and Arab organizations sold at LE 24.77 million and LE 12.2 million, respectively, while foreign organizations bought at LE 8.38 million.

Saudi Egyptian Investment & Finance, El Arabia for Land Reclamation, and Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation were top gainers of the session by 9.97 percent, 9.88 percent and 9.27 percent, respectively.

El Ahram Co. for Printing and Packing, El Obour Real Estate Investment and Reacap Financial Investments were top losers of the session by 9.73 percent, 6.83 percent and 4.68 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Thursday's session on mixed performance, as the EGX30 declined 0.68 percent, and the EGX50 slipped 0.47 percent, while the EGX70 rose 0.45 percent and the EGX100 went up 0.13 percent.

Trading on the EGX during the holy month of Ramadan is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).

5/20/2018 2:26:02 PM
<![CDATA[FRA launches 1st electronic platform for exchange of insurance sector data]]>
In a statement, Omran said the electronic platform is the first step in establishing the first integrated database for various insurance activities in the framework of activating the FRA's strategy of controlling and supervising non-bank financial markets using information technology.

He underlined that the launch of the electronic platform comes within the framework of fulfilling the FRA's announcement that the year 2018 is the year of insurance through work and follow-up to implement all the initiatives and development plans announced since six months ago.

In addition, he said that there are plans to develop the sector in order to enable it to carry out its vital economic role in mobilizing national savings and investment, a thing which would subsequently raise the national employment rates.
5/20/2018 2:17:11 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar rate stable at major banks]]>
The dollar rate stood at LE 17.77 for buying and LE 17.87 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt.

At Banque du Caire and the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the dollar was stable at LE 17.84 for buying and LE 17.94 for selling.

At Alexandria Bank and the Arab African International Bank, the dollar rate registered LE 17.83 for buying and LE 17.93 for selling.

The rate at the National Bank of Greece and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank recorded LE 17.87 for buying and LE 17.97 for selling.]]>
5/20/2018 12:55:31 PM
<![CDATA[Beltone’s board approves acquisition stake in Oragroup]]>
The company said in a statement that this transaction comes in line with the company’s plan to grow its investments and expand in the market of financial services in the African continent.

It added that it intends to sign a non-binding offer to set out the indicative terms for a possible transaction.

“BTFH further intends to conduct a preliminary financial feasibility study for the transaction before commencing a comprehensive and non-exclusive due diligence process to reach an agreement with respect to the possible transaction and the execution of the relevant implementation agreements,” the statement added.

Oragroup’s net income in 2017 increased 45 percent to $40.1 million.

Beltone reported earnings after minority amounting to LE 9 million in 2017, compared to LE 44 million in 2016.

Beltone Financial Holding is a public company, listed on the Egyptian Exchange since April 2008. It operates within the diversified financial sector focusing on investment banking & brokerage with 20 subsidiaries operating across Egypt, Lebanon and China.
5/20/2018 12:42:48 PM
<![CDATA[SODIC, Madinet Nasr appoint advisors for cooperation]]>
SODIC announced in a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) that EFG Hermes and Zaki Hashem & Partners - Attorneys at Law are going to be the advisors to Madinet Nasr, while CI Capital and MHR & Partners (White & Case) will be SODIC’s advisors.

The statement clarified that the advisors held a meeting on Thursday, May 17, in the presence of the top management of both companies, to discuss options available for the cooperation and the mechanism of executing that cooperation.

On April 11, SODIC welcomed the discussions with Madinet Nasr Housing to explore potential strategic alternatives for the two companies by merging or acquisition.

The company clarified in a filling to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) that the discussions will bring benefits and synergies to both companies. SODIC further noted that the negotiations will determine the expansion of businesses, maximizing the return for shareholders of both firms.

The board of Madinet Nasr Housing earlier approved beginning negotiations with SODIC on a possible merger or acquisition.

SODIC's current capital is LE 1.36 billion, distributed through 342.29 million shares at a par value of LE 4 per share, while Madinet Nasr Housing’s capital records LE 997.1 million, distributed through 997.1 million shares at a par value of LE 1 per share.
5/20/2018 12:38:26 PM
<![CDATA[Albania seeks to promote economic, trade cooperation with Egypt: amb.]]>
In an interview with MENA, the diplomat said the trade exchange between the two countries hit 22 million dollars last year compared to 4 million dollars in 2012/2013.

Albania imports granite, porcelain, white marble, vegetables and fruit from Egypt, he added.

About the investment climate in Egypt, he said Egypt is an investment-magnet country and both Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and the government are adopting the right approach despite the hardships in the region prompted by the spread of extremist and terrorist ideologies.

He added that Albanian businessmen are eager to invest in Egypt and are now negotiating to set up joint factories for manufacturing construction materials to both secure local market's needs and export the rest.

A number of agreements in the maritime transport, agriculture and economic cooperation domains are now prepared for signing by the two sides, the diplomat said.

He hoped that the first meeting of Egyptian-Albanian higher committee will take place in the second half of 2018 after many years' hiatus to mull boosting cooperation in different domains.

He referred to the latest visit paid by a delegation representing the Arab-Latin American business council to Albania to stand on the country's potentials and facilitation offered to foreign investors.

He underlined the importance of exerting more efforts to lure Albanian tourists to Egypt, saying very small numbers of Albanians come every year to visit Luxor, Aswan, Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.

He said an Albanian team will come soon to Egypt to shoot a documentary on tourist places in the country.

Also, Sulo said he is working for drafting an agreement to facilitate direct flights between Egypt and Albania. Efforts are also underway to attract Egyptians to visit Albania known for its high mountains and forests, he added.

As for Egypt's counter-terrorism efforts, he said there is a close cooperation between Egypt and Albania in this domain, adding that Albania is also confronting terrorism.

Last year, Albanian security forces foiled a terrorist attack targeting a match between the Albanian and Israeli football teams.]]>
5/20/2018 12:30:44 PM
<![CDATA[CBE issues LE 14.5B in T-bills Sunday]]>
The T-bills are to be offered in two installments, with the first valued at LE 7.25 billion with a 91-day term and the second worth LE 7.25 billion with a 266-day term.

T-bills are issued every Sunday and Thursday.

For the current fiscal year, the budget deficit is estimated to record LE 370 billion, planned by the ministry to be financed through treasury bills and bonds and through international and Arab loans.
5/20/2018 11:29:53 AM
<![CDATA[South Korea's LG Group chairman dies from illness at 73]]>
LG Group said in a statement Koo, 73, had been ill for a year.

A group official said Koo had been fighting a brain disease and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses - electronics, chemicals and telecommunications - led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said.

Under Koo’s leadership, the conglomerate changed its corporate brand to LG from Lucky Goldstar and sold LG’s semiconductor business to Hyundai, now SK Hynix Inc (000660.KS), under government-led restructuring in the wake of the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s.

Major affiliates are LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS), display maker LG Display (034220.KS) and electric car battery maker LG Chem (051910.KS).

Prior to its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession.

The country’s powerful family-run conglomerates are implementing generational succession amid growing calls from the government and public to improve transparency and corporate governance.

LG Corp (003550.KS), a holding company of the electronics-to-chemicals conglomerate, said on Thursday its longtime chairman was unwell and planned to nominate his son to its board of directors in preparation for a leadership succession.

Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group’s controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp and works as a senior official at LG Electronics.

The senior Koo’s younger brother, the group’s vice chairman Koo Bon-joon, who led LG Electronics for many years, effectively managed the conglomerate in his stead.

South Korean prosecutors said this month they raided LG Group’s head office as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by family members controlling the conglomerate.

Analyst do not see a change at the helm being disruptive to the group’s business.

“Although Koo passed away at a relatively early age, his son has been already in a senior position and I don’t think there will be a big change in governance structure or strategic decisions,” said Park Ju-gun, head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score.

The company said Koo’s funeral would be held privately at the request of the family.]]>
5/20/2018 10:58:11 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. sanctions on Iran threaten vital Afghanistan trade project]]>
The Indian-backed Chabahar port complex in Iran is being developed as part of a new transportation corridor for land-locked Afghanistan that could potentially open the way for millions of dollars in trade and cut its dependence on Pakistan, its sometimes-hostile neighbor.

Building Afghanistan’s economy would also slash Kabul’s dependence on foreign aid and put a major dent in the illicit opium trade, the Taliban’s main revenue source.

But Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran and penalize financial institutions for doing business with Tehran is clouding Chabahar’s viability as banks, nervous they could be hit with crippling penalties, pull back from financing.

“President Trump’s decision has brought us back to the drawing board and we will have to renegotiate terms and conditions on using Chabahar,” a senior Indian diplomat said. “It is a route that can change the way India-Iran-Afghanistan do business, but for now everything is in a state of uncertainty.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Launched in 2016, the joint Iran-India-Afghanistan Chabahar project already was facing holdups. It has yet to see significant traffic apart from some containers of donated wheat from India, and the first shipments of Afghan dried fruit to India are not expected before July.

At least three contracts to build infrastructure at the port now have been delayed, with two Chinese companies and a Finnish group left hanging while bankers seek clarity from Washington before approving guarantees, a person close to the project said.

In addition, Afghan traders, who were hoping for an alternative to Pakistan’s port of Karachi, now find themselves cut off from funding and forced to rely on the traditional hawala money transfer system, which is insufficient on its own to transform an economy. Hawala is a trust-based system commonly used in Afghanistan that involves the movement of funds between agents in different countries.

“We know our correspondent banks would not let us pay for imports coming through that port,” said a senior executive at one major Afghan lender.

Chabahar is among a number of projects of transport and energy networks projects designed to boost Afghanistan’s trade and lay the foundations for a mining industry capable of exploiting its billions of dollars in untapped mineral reserves.

Bypassing the border with Pakistan, which last year was closed for some 50 days over various disputes, Chabahar is seen as a way for Afghanistan to consolidate its relationships with India and other regional powers.

“The only way to get India more involved” in Afghanistan’s economic development “is through Chabahar,” said Barnett Rubin, an expert with New York University’s Center for International Cooperation and a former adviser to the State Department and the United Nations. “Our Iran policy is headed for a train wreck with our Afghanistan policy.”


Some 17 years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban from power, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries, highly dependent on foreign aid.

Apart from illegal opium exports estimated at some $2 billion by the International Monetary Fund, its main products are dried and fresh fruits, and carpets, none of which amount to more than a fraction of the value of the drugs trade.

Initially Afghanistan would export agricultural produce – such as pomegranates and grapes - through Chabahar, utilizing a section of a road India paid for and then an extension to the Iranian border that New Delhi built, experts said.

Eventually, those exports could expand to mineral resources, something Trump has expressed an interest in gaining for U.S. firms. For India, this would mean using a planned railroad to Chabahar to export iron ore from two tracts at the Hajigak iron mine in central Afghanistan that it won the rights to exploit, the experts said.

“The economic piece is really important to get a glimmer of hope for Afghanistan to move beyond a land-locked, poppy-based economy. We are now shooting that in the head,” said Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University expert and a former U.S. Army officer who advised the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on South Asia policy.

“There is no other legitimate and reliable way to do that. You can’t do it by air, you can’t do it through Pakistan because they just extort for everything they do,” said Lynch. “The lifeline runs through Chabahar.”

In addition, by hindering the development of Chabahar, the United States will leave Afghanistan dependent on Pakistan, historically its main trade partner and outlet to the world.

That would undermine another Trump goal of pressuring Islamabad to shutter Afghan insurgent sanctuaries on its side of the border and force the militants into peace talks.

Afghan officials have lobbied hard for exemptions to the sanctions for Afghan companies operating though Chabahar without success and are waiting for clarity from Washington.

“Now the uncertainty is that we don’t know what’s going to happen with Chabahar,” said Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We haven’t heard anything so we have to wait and see what happens.” ]]>
5/20/2018 10:54:33 AM
<![CDATA[China agrees to import more from U.S., no sign of $200B figure]]>
Beijing and Washington agreed they would keep talking about measures under which China would import more energy and agricultural commodities from the United States to close the$335 billion annual U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China.

A joint statement issued at the conclusion of intensive trade talks in Washington did not indicate whether the two countries would delay or drop their tariff threats on billions of dollars worth of each country’s goods, which has sparked fears of a wider trade war and roiled financial markets.

“There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States’ trade deficit in goods with China,” the joint statement said.

“To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services.”

President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion on Chinese goods to combat what his administration says is Beijing’s misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property through joint venture requirements and other policies that force technology transfers.

Beijing denies such coercion and has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest U.S. imports - among them aircraft, soybeans and autos.

A report by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency described the statement from the two governments as “vowing not to launch a trade war against each other.”

While the statement said the two sides would engage at high levels and “seek to resolve their economic and trade concerns in a proactive manner,” it made no mention of tariffs.

It said there was consensus between Washington and Beijing on the need to create “favorable conditions to increase trade” in manufactured goods and services. This could be a reference to China’s previous pledges to open up more economic sectors to services.

A commentary published by Xinhua on Sunday declared the statement a “good example of win-win”, noting that it would help America reduce its trade deficit by increasing exports to China and allow China to diversify and raise the quality of its imports.

It also argued that China has always resisted any “unreasonable demands” by the United States, never compromising or accepting restrictive conditions.

The commentary added that a resolution to the trade dispute will be complicated, difficult and take a long time.


The United States will also send a team to China to work out the details of increased agricultural and energy exports, the countries said, without specifying timing.

A senior U.S. official said that during discussions with a member of President Xi Jinping’s office, China was considering a package that relied on major purchases of U.S. liquefied natural gas, including a contract for a U.S. firm to build LNG receiving and processing facilities in China.

The package, which also would include new commitments on intellectual property protections, could be agreed by a potential mid-year visit to Washington by China’s Vice President Wang Qishan, the official said.

Trump made cutting the U.S. trade deficit with China a promise in his presidential campaign.

During an initial round of talks earlier this month inBeijing, Washington demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion - a figure most economists say is impossible to achieve because it would require a massive change in the composition of commerce between the two countries.

As of late Thursday, U.S. officials were still pressing China to agree to that size reduction.

But economists say that level would be extremely difficult to achieve, especially as U.S. tax cuts are spurring demand for more imports.

The $200 billion figure is equivalent to about 90percent of Boeing Co’s (BA.N) annual aircraft production and is larger than all of the United States’ global annual agricultural and oil exports.

Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University trade professor and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, said that Beijing had clearly balked at a specific quantitative commitment.

“It is a very limited and tentative agreement mainly designed to deescalate tensions,” Prasad said of the joint statement.


The statement was vague on the Trump administration’s core intellectual property complaints, saying that both countries” attach paramount importance to intellectual property protections ... China will advance relevant amendments to its laws and regulations, including the Patent Law.”

There are concerns among some legislators and trade experts that Trump could give priority to a narrower trade deficit over tackling what they say is China’s abuse of intellectual property rights. Any deal under which China would import more goods could easily be reversed, economists say.

The statement made no mention of whether there would be a relaxation of paralyzing restrictions on Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK) imposed last month by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The action, related to violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran,banned American companies from selling semiconductors and other components to ZTE, causing the Shenzhen-based company to cease operations.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that he directed the Commerce Department to put ZTE back in business and said the company's situation was part of an overall trade deal with China.]]>
5/20/2018 10:50:37 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s unemployment rate falls to 10.6%]]>
It is further expected to keep declining to 8.5 percent in fiscal year 2021/22.

On its official Facebook page, the ministry posted an infograph showing the steps undertaken lately by the government towards an inclusive and sustainable economy.

It further highlighted that leveraging the current economic status will help unlock job opportunities, with an annual average of 710,000 job opportunities recorded to have been available from 2015-2017.

Over the past four years, LE 1.2 trillion ($67.4 billion) was forked out by the government to develop infrastructure and spur economic growth.

As much as about LE 26 billion was directed for the development of the governorates of Upper Egypt within the plan of 2018/19 and another LE 3 billion is allocated to implement development projects in the provinces of South and North Sinai, the ministry added, while affirming its commitment to closing the funding gaps and ensuring equal distribution of the fruit of the economic growth among all governorates.

In 2017, the unemployment rate slipped to 11.8 percent, compared to 12.5 percent in 2016, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) previously announced.

CAPMAS said that the unemployment rate among young people from 15 to 29 years old recorded 24.8 percent of the total labor force in 2017, clarifying that the rate among males reached 20 percent, while it reached 36.5 percent among females.
5/20/2018 2:49:26 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi orders continuing efforts to upgrade electricity, petroleum sectors]]>
Sisi’s remarks were made during his meeting with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tareq el Molla, Finance Minister Amr el Garhy and acting chief of the General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel.

The president also ordered continuing implementing the economic reform program, affirming in this regard the importance of increasing the spending on the comprehensive development sectors, particularly health, education and infrastructure, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said.

Sisi also ordered the government to adhere to what is targeted as per the state budget's general indicators for the fiscal year 2018/2019.

The meeting touched on following up the ongoing efforts to improve the services provided to citizens, with the electricity minister reviewing the latest developments with regard to upgrading the national power grid in addition to a number of national projects being implemented in the electricity sector.

Meanwhile, Sisi was briefed on the efforts exerted by the Petroleum Ministry to develop the sector of petroleum and mineral resources. On that score, Molla reviewed the steps taken to improve the performance of the sector in its various activities.]]>
5/19/2018 8:42:12 PM
<![CDATA[Plans to develop companies won't harm workers: min.]]>
In a statement, the ministry said Badawi's remark came in a meeting between him and the board of directors of the Holding Company for Chemical Industries.

The minister asked the management of the Holding Company for Chemical Industries, which is affiliated with the ministry to accelerate the completion of studies concerning moving the National Cement Company's production lines outside residential areas.

The minister also directed the establishment of a new factory of the company with modern technology in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt.

The minister stressed the need to focus efforts on the sectors of fertilizers, chemicals, paper and cement, and to strengthen the companies operating in these industries and make them able to compete and expand, a thing which provides new employment opportunities and positively affects the national economy.

He pointed out the necessity of injecting new investments into companies which have financial difficulties in accordance with economic feasibility studies.]]>
5/19/2018 2:55:57 PM
<![CDATA[Iran says oil export drop not expected if EU saves nuclear deal]]>
"Every new decision in OPEC needs unanimity... I believe that the help of the European Union helps us... the level of our oil exports will not change," Zanganeh told reporters after a meeting with EU's energy chief Miguel Arias Canete.

Following Trump's decision on May 8, the U.S. Treasury said Washington would reimpose a wide array of Iran-related sanctions after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods, including sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil sector and transactions with its central bank.

The EU wants to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, which offers the Islamic Republic relief from economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. Europe sees the agreement as an important element of international security.]]>
5/19/2018 1:22:01 PM
<![CDATA[Australian PM to visit China to smooth trade ties]]>
Relations between the two trade partners have cooled significantly in recent months, after Turnbull's conservative coalition government proposed a bill to limit foreign influence in Australia, including political donations, but which Beijing has interpreted as "anti-China".

No dates were immediately available for Turnbull's trip.

Several Australian businesses that export to China have complained that the cool diplomatic ties had spilled over into business, with delays and extra scrutiny being applied at customs and distribution.

Australia's Treasury Wine Estates Ltd - the world’s biggest listed winemaker and owner of the Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Rosemount labels - has reported unusual delays of its exports hitting Chinese shelves.

Several unidentified Australian business owners who operate in China told Fairfax Media on the weekend that Chinese authorities had been unfairly targeting Australian products.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo is already in Shanghai on a trade mission, the first visit from an Australian minister this year, but said that there was "limited scope" to resolve issues involving Australian businesses.[nL3N1SP1YS[

"We do have irritants from time to time, but you know what? We have irritants pretty much in every relationship that we have globally," Ciobo told reporters on Friday.

"So there's nothing unique about that," he added. "We talk through it, we work through it in a constructive way for the mutual benefit of both China and Australia."

His visit is restricted to Shanghai, which has raised concerns over how he can intervene in the trade issue without meeting with senior government officials, who are based in Beijing.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will meet with her Chinese counterpart next week. ]]>
5/19/2018 1:02:19 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt records GDP of 5.45 in Q3 2017/18: Min.]]>
She added during a press conference that 400,000 job opportunities have been provided in the third quarter, distributed among 20 percent in the agriculture sector, 14.1 percent in the retail and trade sector, 7.5 percent in the transportation sector and 12 percent in the manufacturing sector.

On Monday, May 7, Saeed stated that the Egyptian economy is now a job provider, stating that the average of the annual job opportunities reached 710,000 jobs in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, which contributed in reducing the unemployment rate to 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017/2018.

She also expected the unemployment rate to continue to decrease gradually to record 10.4 percent during the fiscal year 2018/2019 and to achieve 8.5 percent by 2021/2022.

The minister clarified that all sectors recorded positive growth rates, including tourism sector and Suez Canal sector, which increased its revenues by 17.5 percent.

She added that there are five sectors which contribute to the increase of revenues.
“The Purchasing Managers Index reached 50 points from 42 points in November 2016 and the inflation rate witnessed a slight decrease to 12 percent,” the minister stated.

She also said that the International Trade Index witnessed an increase of 12 percent in nine months, clarifying that the trade deficit decreased by 11 percent.

The minister said earlier that the Egyptian economy is now pushed by the investment rate instead of the consumption rate which is reflected on the growth rate to record 5.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017/2018, reaching the highest Egyptian growth rate since 2008/2009.

Saeed said that Egypt’s growth rate pushed the government and international organizations to raise their expectations of the economic growth to 5.3 percent currently, up from 4.6 percent before implementing the reform program.

She added that Egypt is targeting a growth rate of 5.8 percent, to be accelerated gradually to 8 percent by 2021/2022.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected that Egypt will record a gross domestic product (GDP) of 5.2 percent in the current fiscal year and to reach 5.5 percent next year, with an increase of 0.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

The IMF further anticipated the GDP to record 6 percent in 2023.
5/18/2018 1:11:55 PM
<![CDATA[The Race Against Aging]]>but with the market booming in demand and supply come skyrocketing prices.

The flotation and inflation rate over the past period have led to the doubling and tripling in prices of dermal fillers like Botox and hyaluronic acid (commonly known as fillers), with average Botox for two or three areas reaching around LE 2,000 to LE 4,000 and fillers costing patients LE 3,000 to LE 5,500 per syringe.

A typical patient often needs two to three of those, according to multiple experts interviewed. This means that a woman in her 40s who needs regular sessions (every six months) would easily pay LE 20,000 a year on the treatments, helping ease wrinkles and fine lines and add volume to sunken cheeks and eyes.

Although the jump in prices should have theoretically resulted in less patients, it seems
that more and more clients, accompanied by a rising number of doctors, are joining the
20-25% profit-margin-industry. Globally, the industry of dermal fillers is expected to grow
at an annual rate of 12.6% between 2016 and 2022, according to a study released by Market Research Future.

According to P&S Market Research, the industry of dermal fillers in the Middle East is estimated at $34.4 million in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue worth $67.7 million by 2023. In the UK alone, the market for non-surgical treatments like
dermal fillers is estimated at over £2.7 billion.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the industry is estimated at $10 billion and the number of women in the US between the ages of 19 and 34 receivindermal fillers has increased by 41% since 2011.

Despite an apparent increase of patients interested in dermal fillers over the past 10 years and the market’s current stabilization, the past five years have had ups and downs for the industry.

Business Today Egypt takes an in-depth look at the luxury industry that is becoming more and more widespread among varied consumer strata.

Dr. Karim W. Rafla, a leading expert i the field and a member of the Royal Colleges
of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (MRCS), a fellow of plastic surgery at the University of Alberta in Canada and fellow of plastic surgery at King’s College London explains that demand is no longer exclusive to a specific class.

“Demand is from diverse ages, and there is a thriving market. The market is no exclusive to the upper class and niche; a lot of people in the middle class and upper middle class do Botox and fillers, as well as other procedures like nose jobs and breast augmentation,” Rafla clarifies.

A growing market

The market has flourished over the past few years, according to Dr. Maha Gabr, a dermatology and aesthetic medicine specialist at a skin and cosmetic clinic.

“In the past, only those in their 40s and 50s would be interested in Botox and fillers, but this is not the case now,” Gabr says. “However, today, young people, sometimes as young as their 20s, get Botox.”

The advancing technology, limited risk, speed of the procedures and new techniques
have led patients to become more comfortable with these procedures.

Although technological advancements and globalization have fueled the uptick in demand, Gabr also believes that proper marketing, which has enabled people to understand the products and battle misconceptions that may have lurked due to old techniques, coupled with the non-permanent nature of the procedures, have convinced more people to undergo Botox and filler procedures.

Still, the market has not been without its ups and downs. Although the market was sluggish at times during the past five years, it has generally picked up, according to Rafla and Gabr. As all the products utilized in the procedure are imported from Europe and the US, the flotation has led to rising prices, and some of the patients have consequently decided to stop or decrease treatments.

“Some patients, not all, who used to undergo many procedures decided to decrease [the frequency of the session],” Rafla explains, adding that others who come from a certain financial background and who find the periodical injections “vital” still keep it a priority.

“We have a large market, however, a small portion of the population seeks to undergo these procedures [compared with the size of the population],” Rafla adds.

Looking away from Europe and America

The flotation has led Botox and filler prices to soar due to the declining value of the Egyptian pound compared with the US dollar, euro and British pound. Prior to floatation, fillers would cost LE 1,000 to LE 1,200 for the syringe; post-flotation, a syringe stands in the range of LE 3,000 to LE 5,500.

Rising injection prices occurred in parallel with a general rise in the prices of day-to-day
products, including essential commodities.This has led doctors in Egypt to move away
from European and American products, and toward the less-expensive Chinese and Indian products to avoid losing patients.

“They did not want to lose their patients because of rising prices; if they change their prices some of their patients might leave them. These doctors are not conscious-oriented. If you used to do Botox for LE 2,000 and then all the market raised it to LE 4,000, for example, but a doctor is still doing it for LE 2,000, then there is something wrong,” according to Rafla.

However, both Rafla and Gabr affirm that the best possible products need to be used to ensure the best results, and that using FDA-approved products administered by experienced doctors is key.

Speaking about the dangers of using products that may not be FDA-approved, Gabr
explains that the least complication that may arise is allergies. When Botox or filler injections are administered, explains Rafla, complications might happen, as is the case with any medical procedure.

However, he adds, choosing FDA-approved medication limits this risk, as they undergo lab trials and are tested before approved. Going a step further, Rafla suggests that it is not just about getting the FDAapproved medications, but also getting them through the proper channels to ensure that they are authentic and were stored properly.

“The patient could get an infection or it can be bad quality, like fillers won’t fill right
or the product won’t be coherent. Botox, for example, loses its potency completely if it is
stored in a temperature higher then 5 degrees Celsius; so if it is put in a car, it is destroyed.

These are brands that are FDA-approved but trafficked, we do not know the effects of those that are not FDA-approved; it could be anything because we do not know what is actually in them,” warns Rafla.

“We have to emphasize that this is a medical procedure, and you can [cause] a disaster if you use a cheap product and you think you are saving. But, you will be
treated for a year afterwards from whatever you get from a bad injections.”

However, the problem is not just the rising prices, according to Gabr, with trade restrictions and imposed taxes on imports; the supply has also become an issue as it is all imported.

“Things are now double the price, and even more than the double; sometimes it
is not even available. We have to accommodate for the fact that sometimes there is no stock, meaning that we have to order bigger stocks to ensure that we have enough for our patients, and that means that we have to pay a big down payment,” she explains.

Furthermore, according to the specialist, doctors sometimes face the problem of agreeing with patients on a specific price, only to find the needed stock available at higher prices and be forced to buy anyway because they’ve already agreed with
the patient. So on top of an increase in prices, the fluctuations in prices and unavailability of the products make the market unpredictable.]]>
5/18/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt studies effect of new oil price on budget]]>
"We will see if we can increase our revenues from other sources," Garhy added in a press conference.

Oil prices reached $80 per barrel on Thursday for the first time since November 2014.
Garhy clarified that the price of oil increased due to the regional factors, including the United States withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

The Iran nuclear deal was a preliminary agreement reached in 2015 between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of world powers, including the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany and the European Union.

Trump announced the withdrawal from the agreement, saying "It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.”

"The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen,” Trump added.

He stressed on the government’s commitment to the reports of international banks.

The new Egyptian budget for fiscal year 2018/2019 targets revenues of LE 990 billion, and expenditures of LE 1.4 trillion.

It also seeks to lower the unemployment rate to 10.4 percent with an inflation rate of 13 percent.

Egypt targets a budget deficit of 8.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the new budget with a GDP growth of 5.8 percent, up from 5.2 percent in the current fiscal year, and investment worth LE 100 billion, up from LE 70 billion in the current budget.
5/18/2018 11:40:50 AM
<![CDATA[IMF delegates to Egypt agree on 3rd review of economic reform]]>
The IMF issued a statement on Thursday that the staff-level agreement is subject to approval by the IMF’s Executive Board, adding that the completion of this review means the payment of a further $2 billion, bringing total disbursements under the program to $8 billion of a $12 billion loan agreement. Egypt has received the third tranche of the loan in December 2017.

The statement noted that “Egypt has begun to reap the benefits of its ambitious and politically difficult economic reform program. While the process has required sacrifices in the short-term, the reforms were critical to lay the foundation for strong and sustained growth that will improve living standards for all Egyptians.”

“Egypt’s growth has continued to accelerate during 2017/18, rising to 5.2 percent in the first half of the year from 4.2 percent in 2016/17. The current account deficit has also declined sharply, reflecting the recovery in tourism and strong growth in remittances, while improved investor confidence has continued to support portfolio inflows. In addition, gross international reserves rose to $44 billion by end-April, equal to 7 months of imports,” the statement read.

The delegation pointed out that Egypt’s annual inflation has declined to about 13 percent in April compared to 33 percent in mid-2016. They added that the country’s budget for 2018/19 targets a primary surplus of 2 percent of GDP, which would keep public debt on a firmly downward path.

The IMF delegation expressed its gratitude to the Egyptian authorities and the technical teams in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and the ministry of finance for "their openness, candid discussions, and hospitality" during the team’s visit.

Egypt embarked on a bold economic reform program in 2014 that includes cutting energy subsidies and introducing new taxes to cut the budget deficit.

It floated its local currency in November 2016, after which it clinched a $12 billion loan from the IMF. Foreign reserves have been increasing since then. Reserves were only $19.041 billion at the end of October 2016.

Foreign currencies’ balance in Egypt’s international reserves increased to $40.5 billion in April, up from $39 billion in March, increasing by LE 23 billion in one month, according to data from the CBE.

Egypt’s foreign reserves reached $44.03 billion in April for the first time in history, compared to $42.61 billion at the end of March, according to the CBE.

The reserves are expected to further grow over the coming two years to reach $50 billion, banking sources said Wednesday.

They said that the reserves will be buoyed by tourism revenues, Egypt’s Eurobonds issuance, foreign direct investments and the savings from natural gas imports.

Egypt imports goods with an average of $5 billion monthly, meaning that the current reserves will cover around eight months of imports.

The international reserves in Egypt consist of a basket of five main currencies, namely, U.S. Dollar, Pound Sterling, Euro, Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan.
5/18/2018 1:54:23 AM
<![CDATA[Orascom Construction’s subsidiary wins design-builder contract in US]]>
In a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), the company clarified that it was selected by the rail technology company, Bombardier Transportation, to this project after the previous joint success of the Bombardier-Weitz team that constructed the existing guide way system (Stage 1 and 1A) at Arizona’s largest airport.

The contract of Stage 2 covers a 2.5-mile extension to the airport’s rental car center, two new stations and an expansion of the system’s maintenance facility to accommodate Stage 2 operations and train maintenance, besides adding 24 cars to the fleet, along with upgrades to work completed during Stage
1, according to the company’s statement.

The statement also added that Stage 2 will be opened in 2022, clarifying that the design of Stage 2 began in April and will continue until the start of the construction process in February 2019.

“We are pleased that Weitz is creating repeat business with existing partners such as Bombardier, which is also collaborating with Orascom in Egypt. We are also excited that Weitz is successfully expanding its footprint in the transportation and infrastructure sectors across its markets,” CEO of Orascom Construction, Osama Bishai, stated.

Orascom noted that the extension of the PHX Sky Train will provide airport passengers with more reliable and efficient access to the rental car center from the airport facilities, in addition to reducing airport roadway congestion.

“Weitz first teamed with Bombardier during the construction of Stage 1 and 1A of the PHX Sky Train, which included 3.2-miles of dual lane guide way with multiple stops as well as the maintenance facility,” according to the statement.

Weitz Company, owned by Orascom Construction, was founded in 1855 as a national, full service general contractor, design-builder and construction manager that serves all 50 U.S. states.

Orascom Construction Ltd's consolidated profits marked a 60.6 percent increase during 2017, recording $85.1 million (LE 1.5 billion), compared to $53 million in 2016.

Orascom Construction Ltd is a public company, listed on Nasdaq Dubai and EGX. It operates within the capital goods sector, with a focus on construction and engineering.

It has companies operating across South and Central Asia, North America, Western Europe, North Africa, West Africa and the Middle East.
5/17/2018 7:48:34 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's Banque Misr hires Citi for $500 mln loan -sources]]>
Misr’s debt facility follows a $600 million loan being syndicated among banks for National Bank of Egypt, the country’s largest lender.

Other deals in the Egyptian bank market include a loan of up to around $700 million for Egyptian Electricity Holding Company and three loans recently raised by Telecom Egypt with a combined value of around $900 million.

Such loans are being seen as a sign of returning confidence among international lenders in the Egyptian economy, where business conditions are slowly improving under a three-year IMF loan programme tied to fiscal and economic reforms.

Banque Misr could not be reached for comment, while Citi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before November 2016, when the central bank allowed the Egyptian pound to float, Egyptian banks could only access foreign liquidity through central bank auctions, rather than the interbank market.

While the move has improved Egyptian banks’ access to foreign currency liquidity, they still need to bolster their hard currency buffers to face requirements accrued before the currency floatation.

National Bank of Egypt is syndicating its planned $600 million loan with HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citi, Emirates NBD, Bank ABC, Rakbank and Commercial Bank of Qatar.

Telecom Egypt’s loans were mostly backed by United Arab Emirates banks, while the loan for Egyptian Electricity is being arranged by Credit Suisse and HSBC, banking sources told Reuters earlier this month.
5/17/2018 5:36:38 PM
<![CDATA[CBE keeps interest rates unchanged]]>
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central bank of Egypt lowered the interest rates twice earlier this year by 1 percent each time.

On March 29, the committee set the overnight rate and the overnight lending rate at 16.75 percent and 17.75 percent, respectively. In February, the committee lowered the interest rates by 1 percent for the first time since the flotation of the Egyptian currency in November 2016, after inflation rates slowed down.

HC Securities & Investment (HC) said earlier that the CBE will keep the interest rates fixed during the third quarter of 2018, with more decisions in the fourth quarter.

While Capital Economics said in a report that further decline of the inflation would push the Monetary Policy Committee to cut the interest rates for the third time during its meeting in May to have the overnight deposit rate at 13.75 percent by the end of this year.

Egypt's annual inflation rate fell to 13.1 percent in April from 13.3 percent in March, to record its lowest inflation rate since May 2016.

The Egyptian government expected inflation to decline by the end of this fiscal year from 17 percent to 13 percent, according to Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy.

Inflation has increased in Egypt since the flotation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, reaching a record high level in July 2017 due to energy subsidy cuts, after which it has gradually eased.

Capital Economics and Mubasher expected the inflation to rise in the upcoming period, stating that the first one or two months of the upcoming fiscal year 2018/2019 will witness a rise in the inflation rates, with the government's intention to cut subsidies.

Egypt targets to cut subsidies on fuel and food by 26 percent to LE 89.1 billion and 5 percent to LE 86.17 billion, respectively, and it also aims to raise food subsidies by about 5 percent to LE 86.175 billion.

According to Beltone Financial, the inflationary pressures are expected to decline as a result of the slower growth of cash liquidity in February, according to a report issued on April 10.

Beltone Financial clarified that the monthly rise in domestic cash liquidity decreased to 1.3 percent in February from 1.6 percent in January, adding that money supply slipped by 0.2 percent on a monthly basis, supporting the continuation of the downward trend of inflation.
5/17/2018 5:12:49 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to get $5B loans for development of Sinai]]>
The sourced clarified that the targeted loans are divided into $4 billion loans from the Arabic Funds and a $1 billion loan from the World Bank.

They added that all ministries that are involved in the project, headed by ministries of housing, and investment and international cooperation, are coordinating together to specify the projects of the highest priority.

During attending the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr started the negotiations of a $1 billion loan with the World Bank for the development of Sinai.

In March, Nasr signed five agreements with Kuwait Fund for Development's General Director Abdel Wahab al-Badr, with a total value of KWD 86.1 million ($287 million/LE 5 billion) to finance Sinai development.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group has also allocated $3 billion over three years for its new cooperation strategy with Egypt (2018-2020), which will support a number of development projects in Egypt.

On March 5, Egyptian Federation of Investors Associations (EFIA) Chairman, Farid Khamis, donated LE 20 million for developing Sinai, as a first tranche of a donation worth LE 100 million, to be paid within a year.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said in February that developing Sinai costs LE 275 billion, most of which was financed by loans from Arabic funds, headed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt has put forward a plan to develop Sinai, which started in 2014 and will continue until 2022

5/17/2018 3:19:40 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Ramadan’s 1st session on mixed performance amid foreign selling]]>
On the occasion of the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, trading on the EGX will be from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).

The benchmark EGX30 declined 0.68 percent, or 115.55 points, to close at 16,877.66 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 slipped 0.47 percent, or 13.66 points, to reach 2,899.05 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 rose 0.45 percent, or 3.84 points, closing at 852.25 points, and the broader index EGX100 climbed 0.13 percent, or 3.2 points, to close at 2,181.45 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 5.7 billion, recording LE 948.39 billion, compared to LE 954.11 billion in Wednesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 116.15 million shares, traded through 15,594 transactions, with a turnover of LE 869 million.

Foreign investors were net sellers at LE 83.15 million, while Egyptian and Arab investors were net buyers at LE 24.17 million and LE 58.98 million, respectively.

Egyptian and foreign individuals were net sellers at LE 3.9 million and LE 40.14 million, respectively, while Arab individuals were net buyers at LE 32.12 million.

Egyptian and Arab organizations bought at LE 28.08 million and LE 26.9 million, respectively, while foreign organizations sold at LE 43.02 million.

El Arabia for Land Reclamation, Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, and Housing & Development Bank were top gainers of the session by 9.99 percent, 9.92 percent and 8.02 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Qatar National Bank Alahly, El Ahram Co. for Printing and Packing, and Cairo Pharmaceuticals were top losers of the session by 7.44 percent, 6.40 percent and 4.69 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Wednesday session on mixed performance, as the EGX30 edged up 0.04 percent, the EGX50 rose 0.04 percent, the EGX70 decreased 0.14 percent and the EGX100 went down 0.50 percent.
5/17/2018 3:14:59 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's IDSC denies issuing new coins]]>
The denominations currently minted are the 25-piaster, 50-piaster and 100-piaster coins, the center said in a report on Thursday.

It added that the high-denomination coins posted by social media are just "commemorative coins" issued by the Egyptian Mint Authority in 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Khedivial Cairo.]]>
5/17/2018 12:43:00 PM
<![CDATA[Oil hits $80 a barrel on concerns about Iran supply]]>
Brent crude futures LCOc1 hit $80 and stood up 57 cents at$79.85 per barrel at 0955 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 64 cents at $72.13 a barrel, also their highest since November 2014.

The prospects of a sharp drop in Iranian oil exports in the coming months due to renewed U.S. sanctions following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Tehran has lifted oil prices in recent weeks.

France’s Total on Wednesday warned it might abandon a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran if it could not secure a waiver from U.S. sanctions, casting further doubt on European-led efforts to salvage the nuclear deal.

“The geo-political noise and escalation fears are here to stay,” said Norbert Rücker, Head of Macro & Commodity Research, at Swiss bank Julius Baer. “Supply concerns are top of mind after the United States left the Iran nuclear deal.”

Global inventories of crude oil and refined products dropped sharply in recent months due to robust demand and production cuts by the world’s top producing countries.

Oil stocks were expected to drop further as peak summer driving season nears, offsetting increases in U.S. shale output, said analysts at Bernstein.

“While the sharp rise in U.S. production and rig count has raised questions on the sustainability of inventory draws through 2018, we believe that inventories will continue to draw as we enter the summer driving season in 2018,” they said.

Several banks have in recent days raised their oil price forecasts, citing tighter supplies and strong demand.
But high oil prices could hit consumption, the International Energy Agency warned on Wednesday, lowering its global oil demand growth forecast for 2018 to 1.4 million from 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd). [EIA/S]

Asia’s demand is at record highs and with rising prices its crude could cost $1 trillion this year, about twice what it paid during the market lull of 2015/2016.

The IEA said global oil demand would average 99.2 million bpd in 2018, although U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said consumption would cross 100 million bpd “this summer”.

Leading production increases is the United States, where crude output C-OUT-T-EIA has soared by 27 percent in the last two years, to a record 10.72 million bpd, putting the United States within reach of top producer Russia’s 11 million bpd.

Goldman Sachs, though, said even with a slowdown in demand and soaring U.S. output, global oil markets would remain tight.

“U.S. shale cannot solve the current oil supply problems,” it said, arguing that U.S. oil would not be sufficient to offset production losses from Iran, Venezuela and Angola.

Goldman also said the tight market left “room for OPEC to exit (its production cuts) without significant price impact.”]]>
5/17/2018 12:29:58 PM
<![CDATA[Mane Attraction]]>very long time. Generations have grown up watching their mothers, aunts and female relatives meet up at the salon and spend the day there. But what has always been a latently regular part of Egyptians’ lives has changed considerably over the years, both socially and in numbers.

Business Today Egypt sits down with three industry leaders to get the intel on the business. “When we started 40 years ago I felt that the business wasn’t regarded as it should be... When I traveled to study in Paris, I felt that a hairstylist in Egypt was not regarded highly enough [as in France],” Egyptian hairdresser tycoon Mohamed Al-Sagheer tells Business Today Egypt.

According to Al-Sagheer, in France, hairstylists were treated much differently, more
like artists. According to industry gurus, Al-Sagheer, Kriss, and Kimi Safadi, their branches are frequented by 500 clients per day, with each client spending between LE 500 to LE 2,500 per visit post-flotation.

Post-float shakes and tremors

All three agree that the business of coiffuring in Egypt has been deeply impacted by the
2016 flotation. Profit margins fell monumentally, while curbing expenditure turned out to
be a true challenge for the A-class hairstylists who knew that maintaining their quality was everything in this business.

Safadi, Al-Sagheer, and Kriss’ public relations and operations manager Karim Kamal
all concurred that while their top-of-the-line products’osts increased exponentially overnight, not to mention their other costs such as rents, salaries and so on, their prices could not be increased to meet the market’s new indices.

“I end up paying at least 40% taxes, especially since the new value-added tax policy has been introduced, which heavily affects profits,” Safadi says. “I import a type of Brazilian Keratin, which is considered the best in the market, and it is now for LE 6,000.”

The biggest challenge of the float for them was having to increase their prices between
20% and 80%, which led to regulars visiting less frequently. “Demand was a little affected; a client who would visit twice a week now only visits once,” Al-Sagheer says.

“The economy’s instability affected the materials we work with. We are one of the chains that import lines of products, and we both use them and distribute to others. But if you previously had LE 1 million that you spend on the business, this million became worth LE 360,000 overnight.” Kamal maintains that the same effect took place with Kriss’ chain, and so did Safadi; regulars did not stop coming, they just stopped coming
as frequently as they did.

They also add that while the price increase angered some of their clients, it was still to enough to maintain a healthy profit margin. “Last year was the first time in 38 years that
we have a negative in the budget. We had a minus of 1.5% in last year’s budget. This was a result of the inflation that happened, costs rising and we couldn’t raise our prices that much due to the magnification that took place in terms of prices.

Rent prices increased, everything increased. Hote rents increased, for example, and we pay them in dollars. We used to pay, for example, LE 80,000 for a store space in a hotel; overnight they asked for LE 160,000 or 170,000. That is in addition to the value added tax,” Al-Sagheer explains.

An enticing, but tricky market

As Al-Sagheer mentions, the market of hairstyling in Egypt has opened up in the past 15 to 20 years, which was about when Kriss launched their first branch in Korba. “The market has gotten aggressive since Kriss first opened 15 years ago,” Kamal says. “He was considered the only Lebanese [acclaimed hairdresser] in Egypt at the time, and when the concept of a beauty salon was established in Egypt, more Lebanese came to invest in the market.”

“Part of the success that creating brands has given to the profession is that now there are people who regard it as a source of income. Instead of opening cafes or boutiques like they used to, businessmen or women now decide to open a hair salon instead. That is largely due to the emerging brands that were created over the years, and there are a lot of people flockin to imitate it or to follow it,” Al-Sagheer explains.

Essentially, the business boomed when people started to notice the space it takes up in society after Al-Sagheer founded the first chain of A-class salons. Businessmen regarded it as a venture that had a small margin for failure, especially if they had the right coiffeur to lead it, and thus began investing in that market; a business that wouldn’t go out of business because it was one built on a demand that never

But an important part of being a successful player in the field, undeniably, is skill, and not just the skill of coiffuring. “It is important to be skilled as a hairdresser of course, because then you have a following … but you also need to be skilled in terms of marketing and business,”

Safadi explains. Al-Sagheer and Kamal agree. “Success is not only standing behind a
chair working. Skill is important; it’s important to be good at it. Some people rise then fade quickly because they don’t develop their skills. When a client comes, she’s expecting a result, and when she doesn’t get it, it affects the business,” Safadi adds.

To Kriss, much like Al-Sagheer, the system largely depends on education. Having opened his own academy, Kriss works intently on ensuring that all his hairdressers are educated in the biology and chemistry of hair and the products they use on it. “Education is the future in this industry,”

Kamal asserts. He adds that newer generations “have come to know what is good for
hair and what isn’t,” which means that to stan out from competitors, they need to be educated on their business to “establish trust between the customer and the place.” Kriss’ emphasis on developing his stylists and educating them has led to complaints throughout his branches decreasing by 95% over the past three years.]]>
5/17/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Britain seeks $40 billion investment to boost economy after Brexit]]>
Britain is trying reinvent itself as a global trading nation and improve economic ties with countries outside Europe as the government prepares to leave the EU next year.

Investors will be offered the chance to fund 68 projects across 20 sectors of the economy, including technology, housing and retail, and many of the projects are outside London in less affluent parts of Britain.

The Department for International Trade will promote the projects to investors overseas and more will be added in the coming months.

"This is a bold and ambitious programme, building on the UK's position as the leading destination for foreign investment in Europe," Fox said in a statement.

Prime Minister Theresa May has made infrastructure spending a cornerstone of her industrial strategy, a hands-on approach to business that had largely been abandoned by her Conservative predecessors from the time of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Britain lagged every other G7 country in terms of growth last year and has been outpaced by the euro zone ever since the referendum to leave the EU in 2016.

Global foreign direct investment into Britain shrank by 90 percent to $19.4 billion last year, according to United Nations data. However, this did come against unprecedented investment in 2016 led by some mega-deals.

The Confederation of British Industry's Director General Carolyn Fairbairn welcomed the Department for International Trade's announcement.

This will "be a vital tool to attracting even more capital to the UK, enabling the benefits of free trade and investment to flow into our communities," Fairbairn said.]]>
5/17/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Flat6Labs Cairo graduates 10 Egyptian leading techno startups ]]>
Flat6Labs Cairo’s 10th Demo Day was held in the attendance of Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr and various investors, mentors, top government officials, reputable technology experts and influencers from the region.

During the graduation ceremony, Nasr said, “We are honored to be investing in Flat6laps; we are impressed and proud of all startups, their success stories, and the impact they make.” She added, “You are the ones who will create jobs, bring the new technology in and spread the knowledge about how it can be utilized for a better world and a better Egypt. We want to encourage you. As a ministry, we are there to make sure that you have the right eco system.”

In July 2017, Nasr inked an agreement with Flat6Labs and Egypt Entrepreneurship and Investment Company to invest LE 10 million ($559,070) in emerging companies.

The minister highlighted that the deal aims to encourage the private-sector investments in Egypt through encouraging the innovation and supporting entrepreneurs, empowering youth and creating job opportunities for the Egyptian young people in all the state’s governorates.

Every six months, Flat6Labs Cairo provides seed capital to 10 new startups; each company receives up to LE 500,000 in funding for 10 percent equity.

Ten promising new startups are excited to launch their businesses to the public. The startups are working across various industries such as FinTech, Medicine, Training and Development to Transportation, and Insurance and Retail, offering innovative online and digital solutions that are set to disrupt the market.

Moustafa Khater, Flat6Labs Cairo managing director, said, “I am proud to witness such bright and passionate entrepreneurs, representing an exquisite display of diversity,” adding that with a bustling population shortly at the 100 million mark with 50 percent below the age of 30 and tech savvy, Egypt is poised to be one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial hubs in the world.

"We realize this opportunity and would like to encourage entrepreneurs through the critical first steps of their development. We are now ready for the 11th cycle and we look forward to welcoming new, innovative and disruptive technologies in Egypt,” Khater concluded.

The 10 graduating startups that presented their business ideas at Flat6Labs Cairo 10th Demo Day include; 7aweshly, a mobile application for micro-savings; Arza2, a platform targeting blue-collars’ hiring; Chefaa, an application to order from pharmacies online; iSagha, the first online jewelry marketplace; Med Misr, a digital third-party administrator that provides medical insurance companies with innovative online paper-free solution with fraud controls.

The other five innovative startups are: Mosawer, a platform that aims at connecting photography professionals to clients around the MENA region; Tombeely, a digital platform aimed at being a one-stop shop for everything car-related; Transpooler, a platform that aims at giving parents, schools and fleet companies the right tools to ensure safe and convenient transportation; Wasel, a transportation platform connecting passengers between governorates with professional drivers; and Weelo, a platform that connects users to their nearest supermarkets to facilitate grocery shopping.

Flat6Labs is a leading regional startup accelerator program and seed investment company which invests in passionate entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas.
5/16/2018 7:08:38 PM
<![CDATA[Premier forms committee to sell shares of state-owned companies]]>
According to the decision, published by the official Gazette on Wednesday, the committee is to comprise the ministers of investment, international cooperation, petroleum and mineral wealth, trade and industry, finance (the committee's rapporteur), planning and public enterprises, besides the head of the Cabinet's Legislative Affairs Secretariat.

The program aims at activating the Egyptian Exchange, increase capital cash and developing companies owned or partly owned by the state.]]>
5/16/2018 5:22:43 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's FRA introduces more amendments to statute of capital market law]]>
The amendments aim at protecting the minority shareholder rights.

The amendments oblige companies, listed in foreign exchanges, to reveal all information regarding the purchase or acquisition bids to ensure equal chances to all shareholders, the authority said in a statement.

To protect minority shareholder rights, the amendments stipulate appointing an independent financial adviser to asses the price of shares.

Under the new amendments, the authority should first approve any acquisition of one third of shares of any company.

The amendments permit those who own more than one-third of a company's registered capital to increase their share to half the capital by not more than 5% per year without the need of the authority's approval.

These are the first amendments to be introduced to the Money Market Law articles regulating acquisition and purchase bids.

A draft of these amendments will be sent to the State Council for review within the coming few days.]]>
5/16/2018 4:39:42 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends last session before Ramadan on mixed note]]>
The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.04 percent, or 7.43 points, to close at 16,993.21 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 climbed 0.04 percent, or 1.04 points, to reach 2,912.71 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 decreased 0.14 percent, or 1.19 points, closing at 848.41 points, and the broader index EGX100 went down 0.50 percent, or 10.84 points, to close at 2,178.52 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 175.98 million, recording LE 954.11 billion, compared to LE 954.28 billion in Tuesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 227.58 million shares, traded through 24,860 transactions, with a turnover of LE 1.06 billion.

Foreign investors were net buyers at LE 26.94 million, while Egyptian and Arab investors were net sellers at LE 22.57 million and LE 4.37 million, respectively.

Egyptian, Arab and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 21.85 million, LE 20.54 million and LE 3.75 million, respectively.

Egyptian and Arab organizations sold at LE 44.42 million and LE 24.9 million, respectively, while Arab organizations bought at LE 23.18 million.

Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, El Arabia for Land Reclamation, and Rowad Tourism (Al Rowad) were top gainers of the session by 9.92 percent, 9.22 percent and 7.80 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Misr National Steel - Ataqa, Rakta Paper Manufacturing, and El Nasr for Manufacturing Agricultural Crops were top losers of the session by 7.35 percent, 6.29 percent and 4.24 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Tuesday’s session in green, as the EGX30 edged up 0.01 percent, the EGX50 jumped 0.41 percent, the EGX70 climbed 0.19 percent and the EGX100 went up 0.14 percent.

In coincidence with the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, trading on the EGX will be from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (CLT).
5/16/2018 3:45:12 PM
<![CDATA[Current British investment in Egypt reaches $5.6B]]>
This came during Kabil’s first meeting with the members of the Egyptian side of the Egyptian-British Business Council after its restructuring, which reviewed the role of the council in promoting economic cooperation between Egypt and the U.K. during the next phase.

Kabil stressed on the importance of enhancing the strategic partnership between Egypt and Britain to deepen the trade movement between the two states in addition to studying the future of their relationship in light of Brexit.

Brexit is a combination of two words, “British” and “exit”, and refers to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. In June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the EU with a percentage of 51.9 percent.

The minister added that the new structure of the Britain-Egypt Business Council would have an essential role in supporting and developing the inter-trade movement, besides encouraging the private sector in Britain to invest in Egypt.

He referred to the importance of transferring the real image of the Egyptian economic reform program to the British society in order to introduce the improvement of the Egyptian business climate to the international business communities.

Egypt took several decisions as a part of an economic reform program to receive a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including floating its currency, implementing a value-added tax and cutting subsidies.

The IMF’s executive board approved in November 2016 a three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFT) loan to Egypt worth $12 billion to support its economic reform program.

For his part, the head of the Egyptian side in the council, Hesham Mekkawy, said that the council seeks to organize a number of visits of big British companies to Egypt during the second half of 2018 to know the available investment opportunities in Egypt.

Kabil issued a decree in March 2018 to restructure the Egyptian side of the Britain-Egypt Business Council for three years under the chairmanship of Chairman of British Petroleum Hisham Makkawi.
5/16/2018 2:22:19 PM
<![CDATA[Minster hails parl't approval on domestic industry bill]]>
The draft law will contribute to creating a suitable atmosphere, where the domestic industry can compete in the local and foreign markets, through granting more privileges to the domestic product, the minister said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kabil stressed the importance of abiding by quality standards in products' manufacture, which in turn could help the domestic product to vie with the imported one.

The bill aims to support the national industry with all possible means and encourage investors to pump new investments in the industry sector, he added.]]>
5/16/2018 2:17:44 PM
<![CDATA[Engineering Export Council records growth rate of 11% in 2017]]>
The statement clarified that the number of big exporting enterprises has been increased to 18 companies from 12 companies, while small enterprises jumped to 141 companies from 121 companies.

The exporting council reviewed these data during its meeting about the results of the council during the three years from 2015 to 2018.

The council supported the exports of the engineering sector through boosting the cooperation between all sectors and organizations; this linkage aims at connecting all partners to one organization, which reflects positively on the Egyptian exports, CEO of the Engineering Council, Maha Saleh, said.

Saleh added that the council affected some decisions of the central bank of Egypt (CBE) regarding the redefinition of SMEs after exchange rate liberalization.

Saleh also noted that a financial support was provided to companies during the last three years through trade missions, exhibitions and partnerships with European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in addition to facilitating the movement of exporters through providing promotion offers from Egypt-Air Company.

Among the most important projects the council has recently worked on is "Operate in Exports", where a number of partners provided trainings to qualify companies to work in the field of export, she added.

EEC is an organization that targets to enhance the competitiveness of Egyptian Engineering products by providing export-related services to enhance marketing capabilities, strengthen human skills and eliminate obstacles, aiming to be the credible voice of the Egyptian Engineering community through increasing exports and achieving financial and membership sustainability.
5/16/2018 1:59:22 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar exchange rate up at major Egyptian banks]]>
The dollar exchange rate went up by six piasters recording LE 17.78 for buying and LE 17.88 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr.

The dollar exchange rate was also up by two piasters recording LE 17.79 for buying and LE17.89 for selling at Banque du Caire.

At Alexandria Bank, the dollar rate increased up by three piasters, recording LE 17.78 for buying and LE 17.88 for selling.

At the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the price recorded LE 17.78 for buying and LE 17.88 for selling.

At the Arab African International Bank, the rate went up by four piasters to register LE 17.78 for buying and LE 17.88 for selling.]]>
5/16/2018 12:49:34 PM
<![CDATA[On the Pulse ]]>
From upper-class women who can easily afford a dozen sessions, to women in the poor villages in Upper Egypt and Delta who are saving money or cutting significant shares of their monthly incomes to get the treatments, the practice has become increasingly popular.

The business also attracts men who are seeking the permanent grooming, or who want to remove scars. “We have men coming frequently for laser treatment for acne or burn scars. Some other young men also ask for beard styling or body hair removal to have less hairy chests or backs,” Dr. Mohamed Elazzab, manager of a skin and venereal hospital in Mansoura tells us.

The industry has been evolving at an incredible pace; many young dermatologists and even students at medical faculties have been eyeing this business as one of the most profitable recently.

However, the pound float in November 2016 has killed off their rosy dreams, with prices of laser devices jumping by more than double and triple, leaving many clinics and beauty centers between two choices.

The first is to sacrifice their profit margin to maintain the high turnout given the sharp competition in the market. The second choice is the rather risky decision to reduce
costs by buying cheaper devices and spare parts, depending on technicians rather than dermatologists, and manipulating the cooling systems as well as the pulse width and duration.

Flotation turns dreams into dust

Liberating the exchange rate has dealt a hard blow to Egypt’s laser dermatology business. A device that was sold at LE 500,000 is now priced at
LE 2 million, says Azzab.

When the laser business started in Egypt more than 10 years ago, dermatologists were securing 100% profit margins after deducting all operation costs and taxes, but now the lucky ones who are not deceiving their patients are hardly securing around 20%, and others are achieving net loss, according to Azzab.

“We will not wait until we achieve losses. We can bear the loss for some months, but not forever,” he adds.

Dermatologist Dr. Lamia Elalfy, who is based in El-Mahalla, seconds Azzab. “When we started, the dollar was worth LE 7, and the pulse was priced at LE 5, but now the dollar is above LE 17, while the pulse dropped to LE 1 and LE 1.5.”

Elalfy adds that the cooling cylinders also jumped to LE 1,200 compared to LE 400 prefloat. “The number of patients was limited, but we were making great profits; now the turnout is very high, yet the profits are declining significantly.”

“For some, it would be better to withdraw from the market and deposit their money at banks, securing at least a 15% interest rate without bearing any burdens,” Azzab says.

This was the decision of many investors following the pound float, when interest rates were hiked to approach 20%.

“Many clinics now depend on Korean and Chinese laser devices. Some of these devices are good, but they are 25% the cost of the US and European devices and are not efficient. How can the two players compete; the one using an LE 2 million device against one using a LE 200,000 one?” Elalfy wonders.

Not all lasers are created equal

There are massive price differences between laser hair removal sessions from one clinic or beauty center to another. Factors like the device used, the cooling system that reduces pain and prevents possible burns, as well as the calibre of the person conducting the session, in addition to the location of the clinic or center, all significantly
contribute to the cost incurred by the business.

There are three types of laser used for hair removal: Alexandrite, Diode and ND-Yag
Cairo-based dermatologist Dr. Mohamed Elnazer explains that “the centers or clinics using Diode are making more money, compared to those operating with the Alexandrite,” but affirms the latter is more efficient.

Clinics and centers that care about the maintenance of their devices usually sign contracts with their supplier or agent. The package includes a monthly check-up visit costing about LE 1,000 for each device, in addition to emergency visits when something goes wrong. Others opt out of the package, and send for emergency visits when
something goes wrong, which cost about LE 1,000 to LE 1,2000 a time.

Technicians replacing doctors

One way of cutting costs and sustaining high profit margins has been to get technicians to conduct the sessions as they are paid less than professional

“Some places do not tell the patient or the client that the person who is going to [give them] the session is a technician, not a doctor. This could have dangerous side effects, including skin burns as technicians are not usually fully aware of the laser science,” Elnazer warns.

Naglaa Mohamed, 32, tells Business Today Egypt that she decided to stop going to a certain clinic after she found out that her last hair removal session was done by a technician not a doctor. “Thank God I had no burns, but I cannot trust this place anymore.”

Worldwide, there are technicians conducting laser sessions, but a doctor must be supervising the session, and the patient should be informed and should give
his consent, says Elnazer.

Manipulating efficiency

Pulse widths range from 12 millimeters (mm), 15 mm, 16 mm, 18 mm, 20 mm, 22 mm and up to 24 mm. The larger the size of the pulse, the higher power it consumes,
and thus the cost becomes greater.

Some centers trick patients who pay by pulse count instead of fixed packages. “They can use the small size pulse of 15 mm instead of 20 mm, for example, to count a
bigger number of pulses,” Elnazer says.

The patient ends up paying more money for the session as smaller sizes require more numbers of pulses for the same efficiency, and so the center will secure higher profit.

Determining the pulse size is one of the factors that distinguishes professional doctors and dermatologists from technicians. Another possible way of securing more revenue
is asking patients to come in for the following hair removal session after one month,
although if the session is done efficiently, the patient should only go every two or three months, Elnazer explains.

“A perfect session every two months is better and much more economic than
a monthly, less efficient one.”

A mess of a market

“Messy,” is how Azzab describes the laser dermatology
market in Egypt. “The competition is becoming very difficult, given the variety of laser
devices invading the market without censorship.”

To use laser for dermatology, the doctors and technicians, the devices and the clinic or the beauty center must be licensed. These licenses usually cost around LE 100,000; LE 25,000 for the Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS), LE 10,000 for the National Institute for Laser, and LE 5,000 for each device. The Ministry of Health is also paid a share
of this.

While this market is not expected to reach saturation as demand will never stop, the coming period is likely to see many doctors and dermatologists suspending laser removal treatments, which is now open for anyone, according to Elalfy. “Hairdressers
are [giving] hair laser removal [sessions], and providing Botox injections and fillers.”

The regulator should give those players a three-year notice period for compliance to sell their devices or hire doctors to supervise their clinics or
centers, Azzab suggests.

Calling for a reconsidering of the pulse price, Azzab says that the “fair price for the pulse is not less than LE 3 to maintain a reasonable profit margin.”

Finally, Azzab wants to see tighter control from the Ministry of Health, the National Institute for Laser and the Customs Authority to regulate the market and combat inefficient, cheap devices. “An Italian laser device costs around €120,000, while
a Chinese one costs only €5,000: There must be a commitment from the Customs Authority to ensure that both conform to standard specifications,” Azzab argues.

Types of Laser Devices

There are three device types available in Egypt. The first is Alexandrite laser, a solid state laser-755 nanometers (nm) that is considered a high-cost technology using
power equivalent to five air conditioners. Alexandrite’s price ranges between $100,000 to $120,000.

This type of laser needs ongoing maintenance to replace the laser head and flash lamps that are only sufficient for 1 million pulses.

Diode (808 nm) is a cheaper laser which depends on a semi-conductor laser with power consumption similar to any home appliance. This device does not need spare parts, but has to be replaced after 8 million pulses. The price of this laser device ranges between $20,000 to $60,000.

ND-Yag (1064 nm) is the safest technology. Intensive pulsed light (IPL) is another technology used for hair removal, but it is not laser.

When it comes to the devices used, they also vary drastically in terms of cost, efficiency and safety. The most common and efficient type of laser Alexandrite is used in various brands, with the American brand Candila being the top on the market, followed by Cynosure and Deka.

Candila uses dynamic cooling devices (DCD), which is a very cold liquid gas filled in cylinders, while Deka or Cynasure devices depend on other separate (not embedded)
air cooling systems.

The Candila cooling cylinders, for instance cost around LE 1,500, up from LE 200 prefloat, and are changed frequently, pushing some places to refill old cylinders instead of buying new ones. This hurts the efficiency of the cooling system, warns Dr. Mohamed Elnazer.]]>
5/16/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Special File: The Business of Beauty]]>treatment industry in the Middle East and Egypt has been booming over the past few years, despite a dwindling purchasing power and tighter budgets across all economic strata.

Beauty comes at an expense; and apparently a rather high one. But the price men and women are willing to pay to remain groomed and youthful looking is good news for a luxury industry that would easily take a hit when cost of living doubles overnight—except it hasn’t.

Globally, the beauty industry is estimated at $444 billion; and in 2017 alone, Egypt has imported LE 3 billion worth of cosmetics; and that doesn’t account for the nonsurgical
aesthetics industry.

From paying over LE 10,000 a session for dermal fillers, or a total of well over LE 20,000 a year for the treatment alone, to paying a total of over LE 6,00 for a plasma facial treatment package, the business of beauty, even in a country undergoing austerity measures like Egypt, is worth millions.

In fact, according to P&S Market Research, the industry of dermal fillers alone in the Middle East is estimated at $34.4 million in 2017 and is expected to generate a revenue of $67.7 million by 2023.

Egypt Today will present over the week a series of articles on the beauty business in Egypt. Follow us at 12pm from Thursday to Sunday to read our full beauty package ]]>
5/16/2018 11:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Dollar nears five-month high on bond yield surge, euro unfazed by Italy]]>
The dollar index versus a basket of six major peers stood at 93.240 .DXY after rallying to 93.457 overnight, its highest since Dec. 22. It was 0.03 percent lower than Tuesday.

The U.S. currency has gained since mid-April and clawed back most of its 2018 losses after a reassessment of the path of U.S. monetary policy versus other countries.

Moves by China and the United States to avoid a full-blown trade war have allowed investors to focus on the yield advantage the United States enjoys over other countries.

The dollar rally stalled last week after weaker-than-expected April U.S. inflation data but was lifted on Tuesday when strong U.S. consumer spending numbers sent 10-year Treasury yields surging to a seven-year peak of 3.095 percent US10YT=RR.

“Today could see a repeat of yesterday. Momentum would certainly seem to back a further dollar advance with little to stop U.S. 10-year Treasury yields pushing to 3.20 percent,” said ING FX strategist Viraj Patel.

Elsewhere, the euro was up 0.1 percent to $1.1853 EUR= after brushing $1.1815, its weakest since late December.

The single currency did not appear to be impacted by a report overnight that Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League plan to ask the European Central Bank to forgive 250 billion euros ($296 billion) of Italian debt.

“The euro is yet to meaningfully react this morning, reflective of a market that already has short-term downside plays on given the recent move, but also the market not fearing contagion risk for now,” Jordan Rochester, a London-based FX strategist at Nomura, said in a note to clients.

The single currency has performed well in 2018 with traders betting on prolonged dollar weakness because of the United States’ trade and budget deficits and investors expecting to allocate more money to the euro zone as its economy strengthens.

The Swiss franc extended its gains against the euro on Wednesday and was up 0.2 percent to 1.1838 francs.

On Monday the franc, traditionally seen as a safe-haven asset, enjoyed its biggest one day rise against the euro since February.

The yen barely budged after data showed Japan’s economy contracted for the first time in nine quarters during January-March.

The Australian dollar was up 0.3 percent at $0.7491 AUD=D4 after sliding 0.7 percent overnight.

The pound was a shade weaker at $1.3501 GBP=D3 after slipping to $1.3452 on Tuesday, its lowest since Dec. 29.]]>
5/16/2018 10:32:56 AM
<![CDATA[China ties a priority after recent 'differences': Australia's trade minister]]>
Steven Ciobo’s arrival in Shanghai on Thursday marks the first trip by an Australian minister in eight months, part of Canberra’s effort to protect access to a market for everything from iron ore to baby formula, analysts said.

“I am not going to paper over the fact that in the past several months the focus has been on the differences,” Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in a radio interview.

“I will be ensuring our relationship with China is afforded the priority it deserves.”

Ciobo will hold talks with Chinese officials during his three-day visit.

Relations between Australia and China have been tested just two years into a free trade pact after Australian concerns about Chinese influence spurred legislation banning foreign political donations.

China responded with a formal protest and reportedly withheld visas for Australian government officials, jeopardizing a biennial trade fair, sparking fears the row could escalate and further threaten ties.

Officials of both sides are working to reschedule the trade show, though a source familiar with the discussions said that may not happen.

Ciobo, the last Australian minister to visit China in September 2017, said he would also attend Asia’s largest food and beverage exhibition, SIAL China.

China bought A$93 billion ($69.57 billion) of Australian goods and services last year, underpinning corporate heavyweights such as miners Rio Tinto (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) and BHP Billiton (BHP.AX).

Smaller firms, such as food and beverage maker Bellamy’s Australia (BAL.AX), have also profited from its rising demand.

Trade ties are just one aspect of a delicate balancing act for Australia, whose security ties with the United States have limited the closeness of relations with China, analysts said.

China’s construction of islands and military facilities in the South China Sea, through which some $3 trillion in trade passes annually, has fed concern it seeks to curb free movement and extend its strategic reach.

Relations began to sour in November when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, citing “disturbing reports about Chinese influence”, proposed to register lobbyists working for foreign countries. Legislation is set to go to parliament in weeks.

Australian businesses trading with China warn against anti-China sentiment, and analysts say the government appears to be tempering its tone.

“People could lose jobs if Chinese tourists stop coming,” said Nick Bisley, an expert on international relations at Melbourne’s La Trobe University.

“Farmers could go broke if China stops buying agricultural goods, and the government is aware of this. This is why they haven’t continued with the language we saw in 2017.”

($1=1.3367 Australian dollars)]]>
5/16/2018 10:24:50 AM
<![CDATA[China's Tianqi nears $4.3 billion deal to buy stake in Chile's SQM ]]>
Chengdu-based Tianqi, which is building the world’s biggest lithium processor in Western Australia, is looking to sign a deal to acquire the stake in SQM from Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien Ltd (NTR.TO), the people said.

Nutrien, formed by the merger of Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, must sell its stake in SQM by next March as part of a commitment to regulators approving the deal. Nutrien owns about 30 percent of SQM, which also has significant fertilizer production.

The more actively traded B-shares of SQM SQM_pb.SN jumped as much 6.8 percent to a four-month high after the Reuters report. Nutrien shares extended gains, hitting a near two-month high, and were up 2.3 percent at C$66.19.

Based on SQM’s market value of $14.8 billion at Monday’s close, Tianqi would pay a roughly 22 percent premium for the shares in the world’s lowest-cost producer of lithium.

Tianqi’s interest comes as Beijing aggressively promotes electric vehicles - lithium is a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries - to combat air pollution and help domestic carmakers leapfrog the combustion engine to build global brands.

But the SQM stake purchase could hit snags.

Chile’s former government in March asked antitrust regulator FNE to block the stake sale to Chinese firms, saying it would distort the global lithium market and give China an unfair advantage in securing strategic resources. FNE has until August, with the possibility of extensions, to determine whether to launch an investigation.

China’s trade representative to Chile told Reuters last week that Beijing suspects other countries have lobbied Chile to block Chinese firms from purchasing the SQM stake.


Tianqi, which is in talks with several institutional investors and banks for financing, plans to fund the deal through bank loans, mezzanine loans and its own working capital, the people said.

Chinese state-run conglomerate Citic Group [CITIC.UL] and its unit China Citic Bank (601998.SS) are considering providing part of the capital for the stake acquisition, they added.

“It is inconvenient to disclose any details because of business secrets,” CITIC Bank said in an emailed statement in response to a Reuters request for comment.

Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital has also been vying for the stake, two separate people familiar with the matter said. It was not clear if GSR was raising the financing for a deal of its own.

SQM, Tianqi, GSR, and Citic Group did not respond to requests for comment. Nutrien declined to comment. All the people declined to be identified as the deal details were private, and they cautioned that there is no certainty that a deal would be reached.

Nutrien said last week it expects to announce the sale of its stake in SQM by the end of the second quarter.

If the deal goes through, Tianqi would likely secure three seats on SQM’s eight-member board, one of the sources said.

SQM currently has annual lithium carbonate production capacity of 48,000 tonnes in Chile, which it will expand to 70,000 tonnes by mid-2018 and to 100,000 tonnes in 2019.

Shenzhen-listed Tianqi, which has a market capitalization of $9.5 billion, plans to raise at least $1 billion from a Hong Kong float this year, IFR reported. Part of the proceeds would be used to finance its investments.

Tianqi makes a variety of raw materials for the battery industry. Its lithium project in Australia produces hard rock lithium, primarily for export to China.]]>
5/16/2018 10:22:03 AM
<![CDATA[Starbucks says aims to triple China revenue by 2022]]>
The U.S. coffee chain, which recently raised $7.15 billion in a deal with Nestle SA (NESN.S), aims to have 6,000 stores in the country by the end of 2022, it said in a statement. It has around 3,300 stores in 141 cities in China currently.

Starbucks dominates China’s coffee scene, although it is seeing more competition from smaller rivals, similar to how it is coming under pressure from a “third wave” of boutique coffee sellers and cheaper rivals in the United States.

Late last year it launched its first overseas “Reserve Roastery” - an opulent flagship store with gourmet coffees and a bakery - in Shanghai, where executive chairman Howard Schultz told Reuters store numbers in China would hit 10,000 within a decade, overtaking even the U.S. market.

Starbucks also said it expects to more than double its operating income in China over the next 5 years, relative to 2017.

It made $3.24 billion in China/Asia Pacific revenue in the past financial year while operating income was $764.8 million, according to calculations by Reuters. A breakdown for China alone was not immediately available.

This month Starbucks struck a deal with Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, to give the Swiss firm exclusive rights to sell Starbucks’ packaged coffees and teas around the world.

Starbucks said the alliance with Nestle would help further extend the coffee chain’s reach and scale throughout China.

“Starbucks will look to leverage the recently announced global coffee alliance with Nestle to provide even more at-home options to the Chinese consumer in the future,” it added.]]>
5/16/2018 10:10:43 AM
<![CDATA[Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices for Prime members in new grocery showdown]]>
On Wednesday, Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that offers special discounts to Prime customers, including 10 percent off hundreds of sale items and rotating weekly specials such as $10 per pound off wild-caught halibut steaks.

Those perks are available now in Florida and will roll out to all other stores starting this summer. Amazon previously announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for members of Prime, its subscription club with fast shipping and video streaming.

The new loyalty strategy will test whether Amazon’s $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods brings much-feared disruption and an intensified price war to the $800 billion U.S. grocery industry dominated by Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Kroger Co (KR.N).

Whole Foods, with 463 U.S. stores and roughly 1 percent share of the fragmented U.S. grocery market, has gained momentum since the Amazon merger last summer, Whole Foods co-founder and Chief Executive John Mackey told Reuters.

Closely watched basket size - the number of items purchased per transaction - has grown since the merger, said Mackey. He declined to offer specifics.

Mackey is betting on Prime to convince shoppers wary of its “Whole Paycheck” reputation that it is an affordable option for more of their purchases.

The new perks could make Whole Foods cheaper than conventional grocers for about 8 million of its customers who already subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

Prime members scan an app or input their phone numbers at checkout to receive the discounts.

Still, Philadelphia-area Whole Foods shopper and Prime member Heather Kincade, 46, is going to need convincing.

While Whole Foods’ prices on staples like rotisserie chicken, bananas and avocados have come down, she still thinks some every day items are prohibitively expensive. “If I start buying dish soap and other things there, I will have hit the big time,” she said.


In Amazon, Whole Foods has found an owner that is famously comfortable spending away profits on new businesses or on lower prices.

“Given how important it is for Amazon to provide value for their customers, and customers value lower prices, I would think they’d be comfortable operating Whole Foods at a lower margin while experimenting with the operating model,” said Tom Furphy, former vice president of consumables and AmazonFresh, and now chief executive of Consumer Equity Partners.

Mackey said more rounds of cuts are in the cards.

“Whole Foods is going to become more and more and more competitive,” said Mackey, who declined to detail how much of a haircut its suppliers will take.

Hain Celestial Group, one of Whole Foods’ biggest suppliers, says a lower profit margin may be worth it.

“I never mind giving up margin for growth,” Hain CEO Irwin Simon told Reuters.

Small grocers, who still control a hefty portion of U.S. sales, typically have razor-thin margins. They are under increasing pressure as German discounters Aldi and Lidl lower prices, too.

Walmart said it will keep offering everyday low prices to all shoppers at its more than 5,000 U.S. stores.

Kroger Co, the largest U.S. supermarket operator with roughly 2,800 stores, uses shopper data to personalize loyalty discounts.

CEO Rodney McMullen told Reuters earlier this month that the chain’s prices will “absolutely” be lower than Whole Foods on the typical shopper’s basket of about 50 items per week.

“It’s easy to beat somebody on four or five items,” said McMullen.

Kroger tested an annual grocery delivery subscription but tabled it due to insufficient demand, he added.]]>
5/16/2018 10:03:34 AM
<![CDATA[Novartis ditches lawyer as head rolls over Trump lawyer deal]]>
The $100,000-per-month contract with Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s Essential Consultants, the same firm used to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to hush up an alleged affair with Trump, has distracted Novartis’s efforts to improve its image after a series of bribery scandals.

Trump has denied the affair. Novartis ended the contract this year.

U.S. lawmakers have demanded Novartis as well as AT&T (T.N), which also made payments to Cohen’s firm, provide details about their contracts. Ron Wyden, top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has called the transactions part of a “pay-to-play scheme” and initiated an investigation.

In a company statement ahead of an investor day on Wednesday, Ehrat acknowledged he signed the contract along with former Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez, who stepped down on Feb. 1 and was replaced by Vas Narasimhan.

“Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error,” Ehrat said. “As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end.”

Novartis has sought to distance Narasimhan from the contract, saying he had nothing to do with it.

“We also have made mistakes recently and the world rightly expects more from a leading healthcare company,” Narasimhan said in a separate release for the investor day. “Our new executive team and I have a deep commitment to ensure we always operate with the highest integrity and sound judgment and will work hard to rebuild lasting trust with society.”

Since 2015, Novartis has paid out hundreds of millions in settlements and fines as a result of kickback allegations in South Korea, the United States and China and faces an investigation of alleged bribery in Greece. A trial for another bribery case has been scheduled for 2019 in the United States.

Novartis shareholders have urged Narasimhan and other executives to exert more "moral influence" over perceived ethical shortcomings that Jimenez in 2016 blamed on a "results-oriented" sales culture and some bad actors. [reut.rs/2Ipdn83]

Narasimhan elevated Chief Ethics Officer Shannon Klinger to the executive committee this year as he made cultural change a priority.

Klinger will replace Ehrat as general counsel, Novartis said on Wednesday.]]>
5/16/2018 10:01:10 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. lawmakers push back on Trump talk of helping China's ZTE]]>
Trump on Monday had defended his decision to revisit penalties on ZTE for flouting U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran, in part by saying it was reflective of the larger trade deal the United States is negotiating with China.

“I hope the administration does not move forward on this supposed deal I keep reading about,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said. Bilateral talks between the world’s two biggest economies resume in Washington this week.

The Trump administration is considering an arrangement under which the ban on ZTE would be eased in exchange for elimination of new Chinese tariffs on certain U.S. farm products, including pork, fruits, nuts and ginseng, two people familiar with the proposal said. The potential arrangement was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“They are basically conducting an all-out assault to steal what we’ve already developed and use it as the baseline for their development so they can supplant us as the leader in the most important technologies of the 21st century,” Rubio said at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Asia policy.

Trump had taken to Twitter on Sunday with a pledge to help the company, which has suspended its main operations, because the penalties had cost too many jobs in China. It was a departure for a president who often touts “America First” policies.

The Commerce Department in April found ZTE had violated a 2017 settlement created after the company violated sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and banned U.S. companies from providing exports to ZTE for seven years.

U.S. companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of components used in ZTE’s equipment, which includes smartphones and gear to build telecommunications networks.


The suggestion outraged members of Congress who have been pressing for more restrictions on ZTE. Some U.S. lawmakers have alleged equipment made by ZTE and other Chinese companies could pose a cyber security threat.

“Who makes unilateral concessions on the eve of talks after you’ve spent all this time trying to say, correctly in my view, that the Chinese have ripped off our technology?” Senator Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade policy, told Reuters.

Wyden, who is also on the Intelligence Committee, was one of 32 Senate Democrats who signed a letter on Tuesday accusing Trump of putting China’s interests ahead of U.S. jobs and national security.

The company has denied wrongdoing.

Republican Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a Bloomberg event on Tuesday he did not expect lawmakers would seek to remove a ban on ZTE technology from a must-pass annual defense policy bill making its way through Congress.

“I confess I don’t fully understand the administration’s take on this at this point,” Thornberry said. “It is not a question to me of economics, it is a question of security.”

Another Republican, Senator John Kennedy, defended Trump, saying the president’s approach is part of a larger set of negotiations with China.

“He didn’t get up one day and go, ‘I think I’ll change my mind on ZTE.’ I think it’s part of a larger issue, and part of a larger set of negotiations,” Kennedy told reporters.]]>
5/16/2018 9:55:48 AM
<![CDATA[Asian shares edge down as U.S. yields climb, North Korea suspends talks]]>
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.1 percent as Pyongyang’s move appeared to mark a break in months of warming ties between North and South Korea and with Washington.

European shares looked set to open flat to marginally higher on Wednesday and U.S. S&P futures ESc1 were little changed.

Financial spread-betters expect London's FTSE .FTSE to open 3 points higher at 7,725, Frankfurt's DAX .GDAXI to open 19 points higher at 12,989 and Paris' CAC .FCHI to open unchanged at 5,533.

A cancellation of the June 12 summit in Singapore could see tensions on the Korean peninsula flare again as investors worry about China-U.S. trade tensions and the sustainability of global economic growth.

“This will weigh on the Korean reconstruction beneficiaries that have had a strong run on peace and even reunification hopes recently,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a note.

“The broader risk for the region if talks do break down is that Trump no longer feels the need to keep China on side and could escalate trade tensions again.”

Strong U.S. retail sales and factory data on Tuesday pushed the U.S. 10-year yield through a key level to hit 3.095 percent, its highest since July 2011, raising worries about higher borrowing costs for companies worldwide.

The 10-year yield US10Y=RR was last at 3.071 percent.

The rise in yields hurt U.S. share markets on concerns it would undercut stock valuations. [.N]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 193.00 points, or 0.78 percent, to 24,706.41, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 18.68 points, or 0.68 percent, to 2,711.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 59.69 points, or 0.81 percent, to 7,351.63.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei .N225 slid 0.4 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 struggled for traction.

Stocks in China .SSEC dipped 0.3 percent as traders awaited news from a second round of Sino-U.S. trade talks in Washington this week, with both sides believed to be still far apart. But Australian stocks bucked the trend and advanced 0.2 percent.


The strong U.S. data underpinned the dollar in currency markets.

The U.S. dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, hit a 2018 high of 93.46 on Tuesday and last stood at 93.22.

The euro fell to as low as $1.1814 EUR=, its lowest level in five months.

The dollar held firm at 110.24 yen having hit a near four-month high of 110.45 yen JPY= on Tuesday.

The yen largely shrugged off data that showed Japan’s economy shrank more than expected in the January-March quarter.

“U.S. retail data assured that the world is still in a synchronized global growth. If U.S. retail had been a disappointment, the market would have taken Japan’s GDP more negatively,” said Tohru Yamamoto, chief fixed income strategist at Daiwa Securities.

High-yielding Asian currencies were particularly vulnerable to higher U.S. yields, which could prompt investors to shift funds out of emerging markets.

The Indonesian rupiah IDR= hit a 2-1/2-year low while the Malaysian ringgit MYR= hit a four-month low.

The Indian rupee INR=D2 unexpectedly gained 0.5 percent on suspected currency market intervention by the central bank after hitting a 16-month closing low of 68.15 per dollar on Tuesday.

The South Korean won KRW=KFTC was steadier but the country's bond yields KR10YT=RR rose to the highest level since late 2014.

Some market participants think emerging market assets would be better placed than they were in the past, when hints the U.S. Fed would taper its quantitative easing knocked their prices.

“What we see today is a reallocation to the U.S. because of a strong U.S. economy. I don’t expect panic selling in emerging markets for now,” said Daiwa’s Yamamoto.

He also said he does not see the U.S. 10-year yield rising further towards 3.5 percent given the Fed’s estimate of neutral U.S. interest rates is much lower.

San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams, who is about to assume a vice chairmanship as head of the New York Fed, said on Tuesday that the neutral rate remained around 2.5 percent.

In commodities markets, gold slightly rebounded after hitting a 4 1/2-month low the previous day on a strong dollar.

It stood at $1,294 per ounce XAU=, off Tuesday’s low of $1,289.30. [GOL/]

Crude oil prices remained near recent highs amid concerns U.S. sanctions on Iran may restrict crude exports from a major producer.

U.S. light crude CLc1 was 0.4 percent lower at $71.06 after reaching $71.92 on Tuesday, its highest level since November 2014.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 traded at $78.21 a barrel, down 0.3 percent. On Tuesday, it reached an intraday peak of $79.47 a barrel, its highest since November 2014.]]>
5/16/2018 9:52:51 AM
<![CDATA[Business News Wrap-up]]>Mexican company invests $36M in two plants in Alexandria

Mexican company called Polimeros Mexicanos is investing $36 million in two plants in Alexandria to produce plastic components, Juan Cepeda, director of ProMexico for the Middle East, told Egypt Today.

Unemployment rate decreases to 10.6% in Q1 2018

Egypt’s unemployment rate declined 1.4 percent during the first quarter of 2018 to 10.6 percent, compared to 12 percent in the same period of 2017, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Petroleum min., Aramco team review cooperation

Petroleum Minister Tarek Molla had talks on Tuesday with Aramco Trading Company (ATC) CEO Ibrahim al Buainain on means of promoting cooperation and realizing sustainable trade ties.

EGX ends Tuesday in green amid Egyptian, foreign buying

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) ended the mid-week session in green and market capitalization gained LE 2.5 billion ($140.33 million) amid Egyptian and foreign buying.

The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.01 percent, or 1.71 points, to close at 16,985.78 points.

IFC provides Egyptian Fertilizers financing debt up to $100M

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced providing the Egyptian Fertilizers Company (EFC) a debt financing up to $100 million, as a part of efforts to support Egypt’s crucial manufacturing sector, according to an IFC statement.

Current investment of auto industry reaches $3B: Min. Kabil

Current investment in the auto industry is at about $3 billion, of which $1.6 billion is in the automotive industry and $1.4 billion is in the feeder industries, Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil said.

Qalaa Holdings marked loss of LE 5.9B in 2017

Qalaa Holdings recorded a consolidated loss of LE 5.9 billion in 2017, compared to 5.6 billion in 2016, according to a filing to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX).

5/15/2018 7:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Mexican company invests $36M in two plants in Alexandria]]>
Cepeda clarified that this announcement took place during the visit of a Mexican mission to Egypt for the inauguration of the Mexico-Egypt Business Council.

The Mexico-Egypt Business Council was launched on Tuesday, May 8 to activate cooperation between Egypt and Mexico.

The council aims at deepening communication and partnership among companies in both countries, as well as discovering new cooperation opportunities, as it consists of companies that are already operating in both countries and others that are interested in starting their business in each.

The volume of trade exchange between Egypt and Mexico amounted to $123.4 million in 2017, in which Egypt’s exports to Mexico in the previous year reached $71 million, while imports from Mexico recorded around $52 million.

Mexico's main exports to Egypt include tubes, spare parts for railways, steel, zinc, iron and oxide, while Egypt's main exports to Mexico include urea, chemical fertilizers, ready-made garments and carpets.
5/15/2018 5:27:42 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar exchange rate up at major Egyptian banks]]>
The dollar exchange rate went up by three piasters recording LE 17.72 for buying and LE 17.82 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr.

The dollar exchange rate was also up by two piasters recording LE 17.77 for buying and LE 17.87 for selling at Banque du Caire.

At Alexandria Bank, the dollar rate inched up by one piaster, recording LE 17.75 for buying and LE 17.85 for selling.

At the Commercial International Bank (CIB) the price increased by three piasters to record LE 17.78 for buying and LE 17.88 for selling.

At the Arab African International Bank, the rate went up by three piasters to register LE 17.74 for buying and LE 17.84 for selling.]]>
5/15/2018 4:49:41 PM
<![CDATA[Petroleum min., Aramco team review cooperation]]>
In a statement on Tuesday, Molla said the talks tackled ways of enhancing cooperation in the petrochemical trade domain, especially in view of Egypt's distinguished location and promising market.

He underlined the importance of promoting cooperation with Saudi Arabia, highlighting the development of the Egyptian infrastructure within the framework of efforts to transfer Egypt into a regional natural gas and oil trade center.

Meanwhile, Buainain said there are good economic cooperation opportunities between the two sides.]]>
5/15/2018 4:46:21 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Tuesday in green amid Egyptian, foreign buying]]>
The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.01 percent, or 1.71 points, to close at 16,985.78 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 climbed 0.41 percent, or 11.88 points, to reach 2,911.67 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 jumped 0.19 percent, or 1.65 points, closing at 849.60 points, and the broader index EGX100 went up 0.14 percent, or 3.12 points, to close at 2,189.36 points.

Market capitalization gained LE 2.5 billion, recording LE 954.28 billion, compared to LE 951.75 billion in Monday’s session.

The trading volume reached 265.34 million shares, traded through 28,526 transactions, with a turnover of LE 1.39 billion.

Arab investors were net sellers at LE 77.45 million, while Egyptian and foreign investors were net buyers at LE 67.38 million and LE 10.07 million, respectively.

Egyptian and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 58.99 million and LE 4.49 million, respectively, while Arab individuals were net sellers at LE 885,559.

Egyptian and foreign organizations bought at LE 8.38 million and LE 5.58 million, respectively, while Arab organizations sold at LE 76.57 million.

Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, Modern Shorouk Printing & Packaging, and El Arabia for Land Reclamation were top gainers of the session by 9.94 percent, 9.83 percent and 9.26 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Development & Engineering Consultants, Misr Beni Suef Cement, and Remco for Touristic Villages Construction were top losers of the session by 7.93 percent, 4.58 percent and 4.44 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Monday’s session in red, as the EGX30 decreased 1.16 percent, the EGX50 dropped 1.41 percent, the EGX70 declined 0.89 percent and the EGX100 went down 0.59 percent.
5/15/2018 4:31:30 PM
<![CDATA[IFC provides Egyptian Fertilizers financing debt up to $100M]]>
The statement clarified that the financing is a part of a $445 million debt package backed by commercial banks and other international institutions to support the company’s continued development.

This comes as a part of IFC’s efforts to create jobs and drive economic growth in Egypt. It has invested around $1 billion and implemented a wide-ranging advisory program to support small business owners, clean power projects and local manufacturers in the country.

It also added that this financing debt is expected to help create skilled jobs, stimulate foreign investment in the Egyptian manufacturing sector and support smallholder farmers who buy EFC’s fertilizers.

"Egypt's manufacturing sector is a vital source of high-skilled jobs,” said Walid Labadi, IFC country manager in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"This investment will support one of Egypt's biggest employers and create the type of secure, well-paying jobs the country needs to further its development and spur growth,” he added.

The statement said that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is participating in the financing package for EFC with a $60 million loan.

The rest of the financing will be provided by local and international commercial lenders, according to IFC’s statement.

Earlier this month, IFC provided a $15 million loan, mainly in Egyptian pounds, to Vinavil Egypt for Chemicals Company.

Meanwhile, IFC announced in April that its investments to support Egypt’s private sector recorded around $1 billion during the current fiscal year, in order to boost the Egyptian economy.
5/15/2018 4:13:21 PM
<![CDATA[Current investment of auto industry reaches $3B: Min. Kabil]]>
This came during his speech at the celebration for the expanded partnership between the Arab Organization for Industrialization and Fiat Chrysler for 10 years, ending in 2027, in the presence of Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr and Arab Organization for Industrialization Chairman Abdel Aziz Saif el-Din.

They also inaugurated the newest dealership and service center for Jeep Cherokee cars, which works with solar energy to have an annual production of 6,000 cars.

Kabil added that there are about 86,000 workers that work in the auto industry and feeder industries.

The minister said that his ministry is currently working on a number of sector-based strategies, clarifying that a strategy to develop the engineering sector, including the car industry and its feeders industries.

He further added that the car industry in Egypt has about 170 companies, including 19 companies that manufacture and assemble cars of all kinds, which include passenger cars, buses, micro and minibuses, and transport vehicles, as well as more than 150 companies engaged in the manufacture of a number of components of cars.

Local market volume reached 100,000 cars in 2017, 50 percent of which are locally produced, and the exports of the automotive sector and the feeder industries amounted to $700 million in 2017, Kabil said.

He noted that the Egyptian market has witnessed positive movements recently, including importing used electric cars on condition that they are no more than three years old and the decree stating that locally manufactured components of vehicles should not be less than 46 percent.

In March, KIA Motors and Egyptian International Trading & Agencies signed a contract to assemble KIA Cars in Egypt with an investment of LE 4.24 million during the upcoming five years, which was followed by the announcing of various car makers as Renault, Fiat and Volkswagen their studies to assemble their cars in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt postponed applying the decline of customs on European Union assembled cars to zero till 2020.

As a part of the Egyptian-European partnership, customs tariffs on European cars were scheduled to be lowered gradually by 10 percent per year until Egypt becomes fully exempted from these customs.
5/15/2018 3:00:25 PM
<![CDATA[Qalaa Holdings marked loss of LE 5.9B in 2017]]>
The financial indicators showed that the revenues jumped LE 9.28 billion during last year, compared to LE 7.6 billion in the previous year, with an increase of 22 percent.

On a quarterly basis, the company announced that its revenues increased 2 percent y-o-y to LE 2.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

It added that it recorded a net loss of LE 1.3 billion in Q4 2017, due to impairments and interest expenses weighed down on Qalaa’s bottom-line.

As per standalone results, the company’s loss declined 77 percent, to LE 452.3 million, compared to a loss of LE 2.003 billion in 2016.

“Qalaa’s full-year results reflect the ongoing transformation across our portfolio companies, with several platforms gearing-up for a new growth phase,” Qalaa Holdings Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal said.

“Solid operational performance saw us deliver a 22 percent increase in our top-line to LE 9.3 billion as energy, mining, cement and transportation continued to capitalize on the prevailing economic trends and turn new market dynamics into growth opportunities and avenues to create shareholder value,” he added.

Heikal announced that Qalaa has reached a restructuring agreement for the Egyptian Refining Company with all stakeholders, including lenders, co-shareholders, and contractors to ensure timely project completion.

He said that Qalaa is currently exploring options to potentially increase its indirect ownership stake in this mega project, which will not only transform the company but is also a strategic asset for the Egyptian economy.

Qalaa Holdings is a listed company on Egyptian Exchange (EGX) since December 2009. It operates within the diversified financial sector, focusing on asset management and custody banks.
5/15/2018 12:24:25 PM
<![CDATA[Unemployment rate decreases to 10.6% in Q1 2018]]>
On a quarter on quarter basis, unemployment rate also decreased from 11.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

CAPMAS said that the unemployment rate among young people from 15 to 29 years old recorded 75.2 percent of the total labor force in Q1 2017.

The report revealed that the unemployment of holders of intermediate, university and higher degrees reached 87.7 percent of the total labor force; compared to 89.5 in the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate in urban areas recorded 12.1 percent, compared to 9.5 percent in rural areas.

The number of employees reached 26.09 million in Q1 2018, with an increase of 1.7 percent, or 446,000 employees, compared to the same period of 2017.

In 2017, Egypt’s unemployment rate slipped to 11.8 percent, compared to 12.5 percent in 2016.

Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy said earlier that the Egyptian economic reform program contributed in reducing the unemployment rate by 2.3 percent in three years, clarifying that the huge projects established by the government provided job opportunities.

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed said in March that the construction sector helped in providing around 3.7 million jobs, representing 20 percent of total workers in the domestic market.

This data matched with what President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had earlier stated about reducing the rate to 10 percent during the few upcoming years.

Minister of Planning’s Advisor Ahmed Kamali stated earlier that Egypt needs to provide 700,000 job opportunities to limit the increase of the unemployment rate, and this number should be exceeded to reduce the unemployment rate.

In the same context, IMF Egypt Mission Chief Subir Lall said that Egypt has to offer 700,000 job opportunities annually, noting that this number has to be led by the private sector, in light of the large population growth and the large number of youths.

Lall added that the private sector alone can provide these opportunities through the establishment of small and medium enterprises, and the expansion of existing companies where it is difficult for the public sector to step in.

Decreasing the unemployment rates requires higher levels of economic growth. Egypt witnessed a growth rate of 5.3 percent in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017/2018, targeting to achieve a rate of 5.8 percent during the next fiscal year, and 7 percent in 2022.

The upcoming budget seeks to lower the unemployment rate to 10.4 percent with an inflation rate of 13 percent.

Egypt 2030 Vision aims to reduce unemployment from the current percentage to 4 percent.

5/15/2018 12:11:58 PM
<![CDATA[Euro stuck near four-month low as U.S. bond yield rise supports dollar]]>
The dollar’s strength also helped it gain to within a whisker of hitting a 3-1/2 month high versus the yen while major currencies elsewhere traded within tight ranges ahead of a euro zone economic sentiment survey and U.S. retail sales.

The greenback’s rally, which has seen the dollar claw back most of its 2018 losses after a reassessment of the path of U.S. monetary policy versus other countries, came to a halt last week following disappointing U.S. inflation numbers.

Euro bulls were also given a boost on Monday after European Central Bank policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said that the ECB could give fresh guidance on the timing of its first rate hike as the end of its exceptional bond purchases approaches.

“After the U.S. CPI (consumer price inflation) data the dollar’s momentum has fallen off,” said Alvin Tan, an FX strategist at Societe Generale. “For our view to be validated, that euro/dollar will move higher, we will need to see European data pick up again. Data is going to be important in the near term.”

German economic growth slowed slightly more than expected in the first quarter of the year due to weak trade but analysts called it a blip and predicted Europe’s biggest economy would shift into a higher gear again.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1932, but remained below Monday’s high of $1.1996, which was the common currency’s highest level since May 3.

The dollar’s index rose about 0.1 percent to 92.646, pulling up from 92.243 on Monday, which was its lowest level since May 2.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield increased to about 3.02 percent, after rising 2 basis points on Monday, helping support the greenback.

The benchmark yield was supported by signs of an easing in trade tensions between the United States and China after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to help Chinese telecoms firm ZTE Corp, which has been penalised for violating U.S. sanctions with Iran.

Some traders remain upbeat about the dollar’s near-term outlook.

Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for Oanda in Singapore, said interest rate differentials were still likely to work in its favour.

Innes said he would probably remain dollar positive until there is a wave of decent economic data from countries, or until the ECB started to sound “overtly hawkish instead of just tentatively”.

The Norwegian crown rose 0.3 percent versus the euro to 9.56 crowns after strong quarterly economic data raised expectations of a rate rise later this year.

The ailing Turkish lira to a fresh record low of 4.3990 against the dollar, bringing its losses this year to more than 13 percent after President Tayyip Erdogan said he plans to take greater control of the economy after presidential elections next month.]]>
5/15/2018 10:40:23 AM
<![CDATA[U.S., Japan to 'move rapidly' on trade deal: Hagerty]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed last month to set up the new framework focusing on bilateral trade led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

“Trade is very important to us. I think we’re going to move rapidly toward getting something done on trade,” Hagerty said at a conference in Tokyo, adding that USTR staff had visited Japan “just this past week” to iron out details.

“The president is, as you know, a man of action and expects us to get results quickly. I think Mr. Abe understands that,” he said.

Analysts say the new framework led by Lighthizer and Motegi could put Japan under direct U.S. pressure to enter talks for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

Japan is wary of entering such talks and wants to convince Washington to rejoin the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact.

Hagerty said Japan’s focus on TPP would not conflict with Washington’s desire to have a trade agreement with Tokyo, stressing that the United States already has FTAs with six TPP members.

“Those six countries consist more than half of world trade today. There’s only one country to push that to over 90 percent and that’s Japan,” he said.

Motegi said last month Japan won’t sign a bilateral FTA with the United States, and that talks under the new framework won’t begin until mid-June at the earliest.

Japan and the United States remain at loggerheads over how to frame trade talks. Japan is opposed to a two-way trade deal for fear of coming under pressure to open up politically sensitive markets like agriculture.

But U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has maintained pressure on Japan, saying Washington wants a bilateral FTA.

Trump pulled the United States out of TPP in early 2017 and has said he won’t consider rejoining unless conditions provided under the pact were far better than before.

Since the United States withdrew from TPP, the other 11 nations have forged ahead with their own agreement. Japan, which signed up for the pact, wants to pass relevant legislation through parliament in the current session running until June 20.]]>
5/15/2018 10:38:22 AM
<![CDATA[Statoil to become Equinor, dropping 'oil' to attract young talent]]>
From Wednesday, the majority state-owned company will change its 46-year-old name to Equinor and trade on the Oslo Exchange under the new ticker EQNR.

The Norwegian government, which has a 67 percent stake in the firm, has said it will back the move.

The oil and gas company said the name change was a natural step after it decided last year to become a “broad energy” firm, investing up to 15-20 percent of annual capital expenditure in “new energy solutions” by 2030, mostly in offshore wind.

“The key reason for a company to change its name is when it wants to widen the scope of its activity or direction. Another reason would be because it is in trouble, and it has a reputational problem,” Allyson Stewart-Allen, a London-based international branding expert and the CEO of International Marketing Partners, told Reuters.

“I don’t believe that’s the case with Statoil.”

While the company’s profits are growing again, its hydrocarbon business has come under increased scrutiny after the Paris climate deal in 2016.

“A name with ‘oil’ as a component would increasingly be a disadvantage. None of our competitors has that. It served us really well for 50 years, I don’t think it will be the best name for the next 50 years,” Eldar Saetre, Statoil’s chief executive, told Reuters.

The new name was meant to arouse curiosity among young people so they see the other aspects of Statoil, including renewable energy, he added.

Technology students became less interested in working for oil firms after oil prices crashed in 2014 and renewable energy gained in prominence.

Statoil ranked 15th in an annual survey of the Nordic country’s most attractive employers conducted by karrierestart.no, a Norwegian careers website, and Norwegian firm Evidente, published on May 3. In 2013, it ranked first.

There are signs, however, that the name change could help it climb the ranks.

“Students who answered the survey after (news of) the name change found Statoil to be between 5 percent and 10 percent more attractive as an employer,” Arne Kvalsvik at Evidente said.

“It’s likely that Statoil’s name change will have a positive impact on its reputation going forward.”

Statoil said it remained the first choice among technology students, citing another survey by Swedish firm Universum.

Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway, said the name change would not be sufficient to improve Statoil’s image as long as the firm was exploring in vulnerable areas, such as the Arctic or the Great Australian Bight.]]>
5/15/2018 10:36:14 AM
<![CDATA[Toshiba says memory chip unit sale to boost annual profit by a third]]>
Net profit for the struggling conglomerate is likely to grow to 1.07 trillion yen ($9.75 billion) from 804 billion yen, marking a second consecutive year of profit after years of financial crisis due to accounting scandals and cost-overruns at its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse.

Toshiba last year agreed to sell its chip unit to a consortium led by Bain Capital and South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc , but sources have said if the deal is not approved by Chinese regulators this month it may seek to drop the sale in favor of other options.

Sources familiar with the matter say the deadline for China to complete its review of the deal is May 28, and Toshiba is hoping for a decision by then.

Tokyo-based sources involved in the deal also say they are worried that trade friction between Beijing and the United States may affect the pace and outcome of the review, although they are not sure just how much impact it is having.

If the Chinese regulatory approval does not come through, Toshiba can walk away from the deal. It is no longer desperate for cash after a $5.4 billion new share issue to foreign investors late last year, and some activist shareholders have opposed the sale, arguing the deal significantly undervalues the unit.

Toshiba said in a statement on Tuesday it was still planning to sell the unit and would return benefits to shareholders after the sale.

The company expects to post 970 billion yen in profit from the sale.]]>
5/15/2018 10:32:51 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Erdogan plans to take greater control of economy]]>
His comments helped pushed the ailing lira TRYTOM=D3 to a fresh record low of 4.3990 against the dollar, bringing its losses this year to more than 13 percent.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television broadcast on Tuesday, Erdogan said the central bank was independent but it cannot ignore signals from the head of the executive once the switch to a presidential system is complete.

“I will take the responsibility as the indisputable head of the executive in respect of the steps to be taken and decisions on these issues,” he said in the interview, made during a visit to Britain.

Turkey has called snap presidential and parliamentary elections for June 24 and polls show Erdogan as the strongest candidate to win the presidential vote. Turks narrowly backed a switch to an executive presidency in a referendum last year. That change is due to go into effect after June polls.

Erdogan said that citizens would ultimately hold the president responsible for any problems generated by monetary policy.

“They will hold the president accountable. Since they will ask the president about it, we have to give off the image of a president who is effective in monetary policies,” he said.

“This may make some uncomfortable. But we have to do it. Because it’s those who rule the state who are accountable to the citizens,” he added.

Erdogan is a fierce critic of high interest rates, seeking lower borrowing costs to boost the economy. On Friday called them the “mother and father of all evil”.

In the interview, he reiterated his view that high interest rates cause inflation.

“The interest rate is the cause and inflation is the result. The lower the interest rate is, the lower inflation will be,” he said.

Erdogan also said that Halkbank (HALKB.IS) executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was found guilty by a U.S. court of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, was innocent and Turkey wanted his acquittal.

“If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be almost equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal,” he said.]]>
5/15/2018 10:31:13 AM
<![CDATA[Investors see big oil surge, but physical markets suggest caution]]>
But physical markets for oil shipments tell a different story. Spot crude prices are at their steepest discounts to futures prices in years due to weak demand from refiners in China and a backlog of cargoes in Europe. Sellers are struggling to find buyers for West African, Russian and Kazakh cargoes, while pipeline bottlenecks trap supply in west Texas and Canada.

The divergence is notable because traditionally, physical markets are viewed as a better gauge of short-term fundamentals. Crude traders who peddle cargoes to refineries worldwide say speculators are on shaky ground as they drive futures markets above $70 a barrel, their highest levels for three-and-a-half years, on concerns about tighter supply from Venezuela and the potential impact of U.S. sanctions on supply from Iran.

Investors have piled millions of dollars in record wagers in the options market, betting on a further rally on the back of rising geopolitical tensions, particularly in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and the global decline in supply.

“Guys who are trading futures have a view that draws are coming and big draws are coming,” a U.S.-based crude trader at a global commodity merchant said, adding that demand could ramp up as global refinery maintenance ends.

“Over the next few weeks, we should start to see markets globally clean up, but if that doesn’t happen, I think we could be in trouble.”


Brent LCOc1, the benchmark on which two-thirds of the world’s oil is priced, has surpassed $78 a barrel, the highest since November 2014. U.S. crude futures CLc1 hit a high just short of $72.

Inventories in the developed world are now just 9 million barrels above the five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above the average in January 2017, after supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia.

In the last few weeks, expectations that U.S. President Donald Trump would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement added to bullishness. Following Trump’s announcement making good on that threat last week, prices surged further. Analysts estimate anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million bpd could be cut from global exports next year.

“Any reduction in Iranian supply will likely exacerbate market deficits, suggesting upward pressure on pricing,” wrote Greg Sharenow, PIMCO commodities portfolio manager, which sees oil surpassing $80 in the short term.

In the weeks before Trump’s decision, hedge funds and others piled a record number of bets into bullish crude oil options. Traders currently hold a record 21.3 million barrels worth of options that pay off if the December Brent contract hits $90 by late October LCO9000L8. Bets that U.S. crude will hit $85 a barrel CL850G8 by mid-June are currently at a record above 14,000 contracts.

These bets are being made due to strong demand, not just fear of political destabilization, said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

“The bigger picture of demand keeping up with supply...is much more important,” Shelton said.


Those on the front lines of the physical market are not convinced. Traders say the surge in U.S. exports to more than 2 million bpd has saturated some markets, leaving benchmark prices ripe for a correction.

“There is a huge disconnect between futures and fundamentals,” a trader with a Chinese independent refiner said. “I won’t be surprised if prices correct by $20 a barrel.”

Increased U.S. competition has dented sales of oil from Nigeria and Azerbaijan, which produce similar quality oil and compete for buyers in Europe and Latin America.

Physical prices have sunk even as benchmarks on which they are based stay buoyant. The strength of Brent crude, now trading at nearly $7 above U.S. futures WTCLc1-LCOc1, and $4 above Dubai, DUB-EFS-1M has made it hard to find buyers for grades priced off Brent.

Russian Urals hit a seven-year discount against dated Brent BFO-URL-NWE while Kazakh CPC Blend BFO-CPC crashed to its weakest since mid-2012 this month.

Separately, shipments of West African crude to Asia hit a five-month low in April due to a backlog at Chinese ports.

Clogged pipelines have hit key U.S. oil grades, including in west Texas WTC-WTM WTC-WTS, where the discount to U.S. crude is near its widest in three years.

Some are confident the world’s refineries will gobble up these barrels when they finish seasonal maintenance. About 10 percent of China’s refining capacity is expected to be offline through June.

“For the last three, four, five months we’ve seen high turnarounds globally,” a U.S. crude trader said, referencing maintenance works.

“Once you get past that, all of a sudden (you’re) looking at 3 million barrels per day of fresh crude consumption.”

But whether that is enough to support Brent at $80 and above is yet to be seen.

“I think it’s touch and go,” he added.]]>
5/15/2018 10:29:24 AM
<![CDATA[Soft China April investment, retail sales suggest economy losing steam]]>
Fixed asset investment grew the slowest since 1999 while the pace of retail sales softened to a four-month low, suggesting a long-anticipated slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy may finally be setting in even as protectionism is on the rise.

The lone bright spot on Tuesday’s activity data was industrial output, which jumped more than expected as automobile and steel production surged.

“Industrial activity was buoyed by the easing of pollution controls (imposed over the winter). But there are signs in the rest of today’s data that the economy is losing momentum,” Capital Economics senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note following the data.

“Domestic spending is likely to continue to soften given the headwinds from slowing credit creation,” he said, adding that the rebound in industry may be short-lived once companies rebuild inventories which were depleted in recent months.

Capital Economics has long predicted Beijing will loosen monetary policy later this year to keep growth from slowing too sharply as it continues a crackdown on financial risks.

Industrial output rose 7.0 percent in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said, beating forecasts for a rise of 6.3 percent and up from a seven-month low of 6.0 percent in March.


Sino-U.S. trade frictions have yet to show an impact on China’s economy, the statistics bureau said.

But while April exports and imports were surprisingly solid, business surveys point to a sharp weakening in export order growth, possibly as companies grow worried about being stuck with high inventories if the U.S. and China start imposing tit-for-tat tariffs.

Analysts also suspect some firms may be rushing out shipments to beat any punitive trade measures, flattering the most recent export figures but blunting future gains.

Washington and Beijing will resume trade negotiations this week, after initial talks earlier this month appeared to make little progress in narrowing their differences.


Investment growth slowed pretty much across the board, adding to views that rising borrowing costs — a byproduct of the regulatory crackdown on riskier lending — are finally starting to drag on activity.

Fixed-asset investment growth slowed to 7.0 percent in January-April from a year earlier, versus forecasts of only a slight dip to 7.4 percent. Growth in April cooled to around 6 percent, analysts estimated.

Private sector investment growth moderated to 8.4 percent, from 8.9 percent in the first three months. Private investment accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment in China and has rebounded this year as spending by heavily-indebted state firms slows.

Growth in infrastructure spending, a powerful economic driver last year, slowed to 12.4 percent in the first four months from 13 percent earlier in the year.

That trend is likely to continue as Beijing forces local governments to scale back spending to contain their debt, and as home sales cool due to strict government controls to fight speculation and tame home prices.

China’s property market, another key growth driver, is also showing signs of fatigue as mortgage rates rise.

Real estate investment rose 10.2 percent in April on-year, slowing from a 10.8 percent rise in March, according to Reuters calculation based on the official data.

Property sales by floor area fell 4.1 percent in April, the biggest drop in six months, compared with a 3.2 percent rise in March. New construction starts also slowed sharply.

For the first four months of the year, sales grew just 1.3 percent.

The property slowdown is weighing on consumption, filtering through to weaker demand for home appliances and furniture.

Retail sales growth slowed to 9.4 percent in April, missing forecasts for a 10.0 percent gain and off March’s pace of 10.1 percent.


While China’s official data suggests economic growth has been remarkably steady at 6.8-6.9 percent over the past year,

analysts have stuck to their forecasts that it will gradually lose steam in coming months, even without any trade shocks.

Economists polled by Reuters expect a slowdown to around 6.5 percent this year, which is also the government’s target.

But a few China watchers believe activity has already slackened much more, although they are in the minority.

UK-based Fathom Consulting’s momentum gauge ended the first quarter at 5.9 percent, while Capital Economics reckons growth slowed to 4.8 percent at the start of 2018 as policy tightened.

With trade frictions rising, there are signs that Beijing is already moving to a more supportive policy stance to ensure growth doesn’t slow too much.

The politburo, a top decision-making body of the Communist Party, said in April China will strive hard to achieve 2018 economic targets and will boost domestic demand.

The central bank last month unexpectedly cut reserve requirement ratios (RRR) for most banks hours after soft March data, a move that was earlier and more aggressive than expected.

While the central bank insists it has not shifted its “neutral” policy stance, economists believe further RRR cuts are likely as policymakers look to offset the impact on companies from higher financing costs and any trade fallout.

Nomura believes Beijing will continue special lending programs to support homebuyers in smaller cities and speed up its fiscal spending.

The weighted average lending rate for non-financial firms, a key indicator reflecting corporate funding costs, rose 22 basis points in the first quarter to 5.96 percent, the People’s Bank of China said in its quarterly report on Friday.]]>
5/15/2018 10:26:10 AM
<![CDATA[Trump defends intervention to help China telecom company ZTE]]>
Trump, known for his fiery rhetoric against Chinese trade practices he says hurt U.S. jobs, faced backlash from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers after he pledged to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ZTE, saying too many jobs in China had been lost.

The company shut its main operations after the Commerce Department banned U.S. companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years after it violated the terms of a settlement deal for illegally shipping goods made with U.S. parts to Iran and North Korea.

“ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi,” Trump said on Monday.

ZTE paid more than $2.3 billion to 211 U.S. exporters in 2017, a senior ZTE official said on Friday. U.S. companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of components used in ZTE’s smartphones, network gear and other products.

The U.S. Commerce Department is exploring options besides a supplier ban to punish ZTE (000063.SZ) (0763.HK), China’s second-largest telecom maker, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

“ZTE did do some inappropriate things ... the question is are there alternative remedies to the ones we had originally put forward and that’s the area we will be exploring very, very promptly,” Ross told journalists at the National Press Club in Washington.

ZTE declined comment on Monday. Ross did not provide details about options under consideration.

Washington export control lawyer Doug Jacobson, who represents ZTE suppliers, said Trump’s tweet “gives ZTE light at the end of the tunnel.”

Shares of ZTE suppliers rose after Trump’s pledge. Acacia Communications Inc (ACIA.O), an optical component maker, jumped nearly 9 percent.

Since the ZTE ban went into effect last month, U.S. suppliers have sought guidance from the Commerce Department about inventory.

The companies would like to withdraw the inventory so they can sell the components elsewhere. But in a possible indication the government is considering easing the ban, suppliers are being told to wait a week or so before taking further action, a source familiar with the situation said.


Trump’s olive branch comes as his top trade and economic officials prepare to meet this week in Washington with Chinese Vice Premier Liu for talks on trade concerns ranging from intellectual property protections to farm goods to steel capacity.

Trump has threatened $150 billion in tariffs on imports of Chinese goods, and China has threatened to retaliate against U.S. exports, including soybeans and aircraft.

Ross said “the gap remains wide” on how to address the trade imbalance between the two nations.

Sources briefed on the matter said Beijing demanded the ZTE issue be resolved as a prerequisite for broader trade talks.

The Wall Street Journal reported Beijing would back away from threats to slap tariffs on U.S. farm goods in exchange for easing the ban on selling components to ZTE, citing people in both countries briefed on the emerging deal.

Two sources, who declined to be identified, told Reuters on Sunday China was willing in principle to import more U.S. agriculture products in return for Washington smoothing out penalties against ZTE.

A U.S. official briefed on the matter said a possible deal involving ZTE and U.S. agriculture products could include Chinese concessions to allow completion of Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) $44 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O), which has been delayed by a lengthy antitrust review by Chinese regulators.

NXP shares surged 11.8 percent on Monday.


U.S. intelligence officials on Sunday evening and Monday said they were caught off guard by Trump’s reversal and remained concerned about security threats they said the Chinese company poses to the United States and its allies.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, three officials said the Chinese government, which has close ties to ZTE, could use its mobile phones and other technology to spy on U.S. citizens, companies and government activities.

By handing the decision to the Commerce Department, Trump appeared to prioritize commercial issues over security concerns, and cut national security officials out of the process, they said.

Republican senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have backed legislation that would prevent the U.S. government from buying or leasing equipment from ZTE or Huawei, the largest Chinese telecom maker.

“I hope this isn’t the beginning of backing down to China,” Rubio said on Twitter. “We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions.”

The White House said Trump wanted Ross to look at the issue “consistent with applicable laws and regulations” after Chinese officials raised the matter in various talks.

“This is part of a very complex relationship between the United States and China that involves economic issues, national security issues, and the like,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Monday.]]>
5/15/2018 10:21:33 AM
<![CDATA[Asia stocks pull back after soft China data; oil higher]]>
Crude oil prices held near 3-1/2-year highs on supply concerns, while the dollar edged higher, underpinned by a rise in U.S. bond yields.

Spreadbetters expected European stocks to follow their Asian peers lower, with Britain's FTSE .FTSE, Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI all seen shedding 0.2 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.8 percent after rising the previous day to its highest since late March. The index had rallied for three straight sessions prior to Tuesday.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 dipped 0.1 percent, with its surge to a three-month peak bogging down.

“The markets appear to be taking a breather after their recent surge, awaiting fresh developments in matters such as U.S.-China trade issues and Washington’s upcoming summit with North Korea,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, global markets strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management in Tokyo.

The two countries are still “very far apart” on resolving trade frictions, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said on Tuesday as a second round of high-level talks was set to begin in Washington.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI lost 0.9 percent, pulling back from a two-month peak to snap a five-day winning run, while Shanghai .SSEC slipped 0.2 percent.[.SS]

China reported weaker-than-expected investment and retail sales in April and a drop in home sales, clouding its economic outlook even as policymakers try to navigate debt risks and defuse a heated trade row with the United States.

The downbeat economic news temporarily offset optimism over further foreign inflows into Chinese stocks ahead of their inclusion in MSCI’s widely tracked equity benchmarks from June 1.

Investors in Chinese equities will likely have to re-jig their exposure after the U.S. index publisher made some last-minute tweaks in its index weightings on Tuesday. MSCI said 234 Chinese large caps will be included in its global and regional indexes next month.

Wall Street scraped out gains on Monday after weakness in defensive stocks offset optimism following U.S. President Donald Trump’s conciliatory remarks toward China’s ZTE Corp that helped calm U.S.-China trade tensions. [.N]

While higher oil prices sometimes raise inflation concerns, the recent crude oil surge - Brent has risen 17 percent so far in 2018 - was seen to be generally supportive for equities.

“The recent rise in prices of crude oil won’t have a broadly negative impact on equity markets if it continues at the current pace,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

“The rise in oil prices is boding well for certain stock sectors like energy shares.”

Brent crude LCOc1 added 6 cents to $78.29 a barrel, nearing a 3-1/2-year high marked on Monday. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 advanced 2 cents to $70.98 and in reach of its highest level since November 2014 scaled on Thursday.

Oil prices received their latest lift as OPEC reported that the global oil glut has been virtually eliminated. Tensions in the Middle East and uncertainty about output from Iran amid renewed U.S. sanctions have contributed to the recent rise in oil prices. [O/R]

“The commitment of Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC to the production cuts is a major factor in supporting the price at the moment as well as the possibility of reduced exports from Iran due to sanctions,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.

In currencies, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies gained 0.3 percent to 92.801 .DXY.

The greenback took a knock against the euro earlier on Monday after European Central Bank policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the ECB could give fresh timing guidance of its first rate hike as the end of its exceptional bond purchases approaches.

The U.S. currency managed to bounce back, however, after Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester reiterated support for gradual interest rate increases.

The euro lost 0.1 percent to $1.1913 EUR= after pulling back sharply from the previous day's high of $1.1996.

The dollar was 0.25 percent higher at 109.920 yen JPY=, adding to the previous day's gains.

The currency drew support as U.S. Treasury yields rose amid the easing of U.S.-China trade tensions. [US/]

The 10-year Treasury note yield extended its overnight rise and brushed a 12-day high of 3.021 percent US10YT=RR.]]>
5/15/2018 10:19:11 AM
<![CDATA[Business News Wrap-up]]>LE1.8 billion earmarked for passenger transportation in 2018/19 budget

The Finance Ministry said LE 1.8 billion were earmarked for passenger transportation in the 2018/2019 budget, up from LE 89 million in the previous budget.

EGX ends Monday in red, market cap. loses LE 9.1B

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) ended Monday’s session in red and market capitalization lost LE 9.1 billion ($513.21 million); amid Egyptian selling.

The benchmark EGX30 slipped 1.16 percent, or 199.95 points, to close at 16,984.07 points.

Qatar seeking more currency data from banks in FX manipulation probe

Qatar’s central bank is seeking more data from banks about U.S. dollar-riyal trades as it investigates suspected attempts to devalue its currency at the height of a diplomatic standoff with some other Gulf states, sources familiar with the matter said.

Foreign currency inflows to banks exceed $120B: Tarek Amer

Foreign currency inflows to banks operating in Egypt have risen to more than $120 billion since the flotation of the Egyptian currency in November 2016, Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Tarek Amer told local newspapers.

Banque Misr’s yield of currency concessions exceeds $13B

Finance Ministry says 2018/19 GDP to reach LE5.2T

The Gross Domestic Product of 2018-2019 is estimated to reach some 5.250 trillion pounds compared with 4.106 trillion this fiscal year.

A statement by the Finance Ministry put at 5.8 percent the targeted increase in GDP rate during 2018-2019.

Hermes records net profit of LE 249M in Q1 2018

Egyptian Financial Group Hermes Holding (EFG Hermes) consolidated profit marked an increase of 6 percent on a year on year basis, during the first quarter of 2018, recording LE 249 million ($14.04 million) after tax and minority interest.

Egypt to issue initiative to restructure faltering factories

Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Tarek Amer announced an initiative to repay the loans of 5,000 faltering factories to banks, through the scheduling of debts and exempting these factories from the percentage of penalties delay and the accrued interest to end disputes in the courts.
5/14/2018 7:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to issue initiative to restructure faltering factories]]>
He pointed out to a local newspaper that the initiative will work on the operation of these troubled factories and their return to production.

According to Amer, the initiative will be announced within a week and will also cover the citizens, defaulting farmers on the repayment of their bank loans.

Amer revealed that there are around 67,000 cases in the courts against borrowers from banks, and they will be exempted from penalties delay and part of the interest in order to help them work and produce.

He further added that the government would pay a debt of $850 million to international oil companies.

He said that foreign currency inflows to banks operating in Egypt have risen to more than $120 billion since the flotation of the Egyptian currency in November 2016.

Amer announced targeting to pump LE 30 billion ($1.68 billion) into small enterprises to benefit 8-10 million citizens, adding that around LE 10 billion is going to facilitate medium enterprises.
5/14/2018 5:32:55 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian-Chinese cooperation in local development discussed]]>
The meeting, which was attended by Chinese Ambassador in Cairo Song Aiguo, shed light on the depth of Egyptian-Chinese relations.

Guindi praised the strategic relationship between Egypt and China and the gains achieved during the past period thanks to permanent understanding and consultations between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

He said the volume of Chinese investments in Egypt hit 15 billion dollars, pointing out that China plays a key role in carrying out the industrial project in the North-West Suez Special Economic Zone, which is the biggest in Africa, besides the Chinese role in the new administrative capital.

He pointed out to joint cooperation projects in the fields of training, expertise exchange, twinship of cities and economic development. ]]>
5/14/2018 4:43:53 PM
<![CDATA[Ibnsina marks profit of LE 27.9M in Q1 2018]]>
The company’s financial indicators revealed recording revenues of LE 2.9 billion during the three months ending March 2018, compared to LE 1.9 billion in the same months of 2017.

Ibnsina marked an increase of 67.21 percent in 2017, recording LE 170.14 million, compared to 101.75 million in 2016.

“Our solid performance underscores Ibnsina Pharma’s ability to consistently outperform against a challenging and often unpredictable economic environment. At a time when global pharmaceutical industry trends are moving toward market consolidation, particularly in the distribution and retail space, Ibnsina Pharma has delivered organic growth across all existing business lines by optimizing its distribution network and expanding its product offering through accretive agreements with global pharma manufacturers,” Omar Abdel Gawad, co-CEO of Ibnsina Pharma, said.

“Ibnsina Pharma has developed one of the largest product portfolios in Egypt with over 9,500 SKUs and is the preferred wholesaler to numerous globally established and branded pharma products,” Mahmoud Abdel Gawad, co-CEO of Ibnsina Pharma, said.

"Our distribution capabilities are supported by a network of 56 sites and a fleet of 625 vehicles, ensuring timely delivery to our clients across the country. Our clients count on us to provide the highest quality service and support that extends beyond the delivery of products, while our suppliers view us as partners in driving sales and meeting their targets,” Mahmoud added.

Established in 2001, Ibnsina Pharma is a private company operating within the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life sciences sector, focusing on pharmaceuticals.
5/14/2018 4:36:10 PM
<![CDATA[LE1.8 billion earmarked for passenger transportation in 2018/19 budget ]]>
Out of the LE 1.8 billion, LE 350 million were allocated for discounted fairs for students, people with special needs and elderly people in the metro and train service.

A sum of LE 1 billion was earmarked in the new budget for restructuring railway lines in some governorates and LE 240 million for replacing old taxis with new ones, the ministry said. ]]>
5/14/2018 4:27:51 PM
<![CDATA[With glut almost gone, OPEC still cuts more than oil pact demands]]>
Despite this, OPEC’s latest report also said producers were cutting more than required under the deal, while producers not party to the agreement, such as U.S. shale companies, were starting to face constraints on future output.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter and de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, told OPEC it cut output in April to its lowest level since the supply deal began in January 2017.

The OPEC report said oil inventories in OECD industrialized nations in March fell to 9 million barrels above the five-year average, down from 340 million barrels above the average in January 2017.

“The oil market was underpinned in April by renewed geopolitical issues, tightening product inventories and robust global demand,” OPEC said in its report.

The deal between OPEC, Russia and other non-OPEC producers has helped oil prices LCOc1 reach $78 a barrel, their highest since 2014. Oil was trading above $77 on Monday, moving up since the OPEC report was published.

The main goal of the supply deal was to reduce excess oil stocks to the five-year average. But oil ministers have since said other metrics should be considered such as oil industry investment, suggesting they are in no hurry to end supply cuts.

Indeed, the report showed OPEC for now is cutting more supply than the group has pledged under the pact.

OPEC output rose by just 12,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 31.93 million bpd in April, according to figures OPEC collects from secondary sources. That is roughly 800,000 bpd less than the amount OPEC says the world needs from the group this year.

Figures reported directly from OPEC members showed even deeper declines in production.

Venezuela, whose output has plunged due to an economic crisis, told OPEC its production fell to 1.505 million bpd in April, believed to be the lowest in decades.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia told OPEC it cut output by 39,000 bpd to 9.868 million bpd, which is the lowest since the supply cut deal began, based on figures Riyadh reports to the group.


Strong growth in demand due to a robust world economy has helped remove the glut. OPEC slightly raised its estimate of growth in world demand this year to 1.65 million bpd.

The higher crude prices that have followed have prompted growth in rival supply and a flood of U.S. shale output. OPEC expects non-OPEC supply to expand by 1.72 million bpd this year, which is higher than the growth in global demand.

But OPEC forecast headwinds to future growth, such as the slow place of oil industry investment and an expected dip next in investment in U.S. shale, also known as tight oil.

“Fast-growing U.S. tight oil production is increasingly faced with costly logistical constraints in terms of outtake capacity from land-locked production sites,” OPEC said.

Adding to the impact of OPEC-led cuts, the U.S. decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with OPEC member Iran and to renew sanctions has raised concerns about Iranian oil exports, helping drive prices higher.

OPEC signaled the group and its allies were ready to step in should “geopolitical developments” impact supply. Saudi Arabia said last week it was ready to offset any shortage but would not act alone.

“OPEC, as always, stands ready to support oil market stability, together with non-OPEC oil producing nations participating in the Declaration of Cooperation,” OPEC said, using its name for the pact on supply curbs.]]>
5/14/2018 4:23:06 PM
<![CDATA[Oil steady near multi-year highs as U.S. drilling rises]]>
Brent crude was up 20 cents at $77.32 a barrel by 1315 GMT and U.S. light crude rose 10 cents to $70.80.

Both oil futures contracts hit their highest since November 2014 last week at $78 and $71.89 a barrel respectively as markets anticipated a sharp fall in Iranian crude supply once U.S. sanctions bite later this year.

It is unclear how hard U.S. sanctions will hit Iran’s oil industry. A lot will depend on how other major oil consumers respond to Washington’s action against Tehran, which will take effect in November.

China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and Iran all remain in the nuclear accord that placed controls on Iran’s nuclear program and led to a relaxation of economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

Some oil analysts have said they expect Iranian crude exports to fall by as little as 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), while others put the figure closer to 1 million bpd.

Michael Wittner, analyst at Societe Generale, forecasts U.S. sanctions will remove 400,000-500,000 bpd of Iranian crude from the global oil market.

“In 2012 the reduction in Iranian crude production and exports was around 1 million bpd,” Wittner said. “This time around, we expect much less of an impact.”

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, says it is still “far from certain” that sanctions “will bite in the way intended”.

“Germany has said it will protect its companies from U.S. sanctions, Iran has said French oil giant Total has yet to pull out of its fields and all the while it seems the Chinese are ready to fill the void created by the U.S.”

The surge in oil prices comes at a time of tight supply amid record Asian demand and voluntary output restraint by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers including Russia.

On Monday, however, markets were held in check by news of a rise in U.S. drilling for new oil production.

U.S. drillers added 10 oil rigs in the week to May 11, bringing the total to 844, the highest level since March 2015, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.

“Soaring U.S. shale output will continue to put a cap on prices,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at futures brokerage FXTM.]]>
5/14/2018 4:20:51 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Monday in red, market cap. loses LE 9.1B]]>
The benchmark EGX30 slipped 1.16 percent, or 199.95 points, to close at 16,984.07 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 dropped 1.41 percent, or 41.5 points, to reach 2,899.79 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 declined 0.89 percent, or 7.59 points, closing at 847.95 points, and the broader index EGX100 went down 0.59 percent, or 13.04 points to close at 2,186.24 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 9.1 billion, recording LE 951.74 billion, compared to LE 960.85 billion in Sunday’s session.

The trading volume reached 264.15 million shares, traded through 28,956 transactions, with a turnover of LE 1.45 billion.

Egyptian investors were net sellers at LE 170.84 million, while Arab and foreign investors were net buyers at LE 10.8 million and LE 160.3 million, respectively.

Egyptian, Arab and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 52.17 million, LE 14.98 million and LE 9.7 million, respectively.

Foreign organizations bought at LE 150.3 million while Egyptian and Arab organizations sold at LE 223.02 million and LE 4.18 million, respectively.

Ismailia National Food Industries, Misr National Steel - Ataqa, and Northern Upper Egypt Development & Agricultural Production were top gainers of the session by 9.08 percent, 8.97 percent and 8.97 percent, respectively.

While National Housing for Professional Syndicates, EL EzzAldekhela Steel - Alexandria, and Edita Food Industries S.A.E were top losers of the session by 9.41 percent, 8.91 percent and 6.09 percent, respectively.

EGX ended Sunday’s session in green, as EGX30 increased 0.17percent, EGX70 jumped 0.24 percent and EGX100 went up 0.16 percent.
5/14/2018 3:55:32 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar seeking more currency data from banks in FX manipulation probe ]]>
Qatar keeps its riyal pegged at a fixed rate to the dollar like most of its Gulf neighbours. But after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt accused it of backing terrorism and imposed an economic boycott on it last June, Qatar has seen the riyal trade several percent weaker than its pegged rate of 3.64 per dollar in offshore markets.

The central bank said in December it was investigating attempts by countries opposed to it to harm the Qatari economy by manipulating the currency, securities and derivatives markets.

In the last few weeks, the central bank has sent requests to financial institutions operating in Qatar for details of any banks taking arbitrage trades on spreads between the offshore and onshore rates, according to three sources who have seen the requests.

It is also asking for details of dollar/riyal swap positions and current accounts of foreign banks in the country as well as foreign exchange rates used for transactions on these accounts, they said.

It is trying to ascertain whether any banks were involved in trades that pushed the value of the local currency weaker than a range of 3.64-3.65 against the dollar, the sources added.

Qatar’s central bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In March, Reuters reported that Qatar asked U.S. regulators to investigate the U.S. unit of First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) , the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), accusing it of “bogus” foreign exchange deals designed to harm the economy.

FAB, parent of the U.S. subsidiary NBAD Americans, denied the charge..

Some foreign banks operating in Qatar are concerned about the requests for data from the central bank.

“This is the central bank trying to audit FX operations,” an international banker told Reuters. “We have nothing to hide, but this is a sensitive political issue.”

Foreign banks including Standard Chartered, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Arab Bank, Dubai’s Mashreq and Iran’s Bank Saderat are licensed to operate in Qatar, according to data on the central bank’s website. A further 11 local banks are also licensed.

A second banker said the purpose of the exercise was to determine whether any banks took advantage of the spread between the onshore and offshore markets at the height of the diplomatic dispute, when the Qatari currency had weakened offshore.

The vast majority of currency activity occurs in the onshore market, where the currency has stayed near its peg of 3.64 to the dollar. But in the offshore market it has weakened as far as 3.8950 on one point last November.

A senior banker at a Qatar-based bank said the central bank had asked them if they had entered into any arbitrage positions or swaps with counterparties in the UAE.

The bank said it didn’t and “it was left at that,” the banker said.

Many bankers in the region say that with more than $300 billion in central bank reserves and sovereign wealth fund assets, Qatar has more than enough financial firepower to block any attack on its currency.

Qatar’s state companies, including its sovereign wealth fund, injected $43 billion into the banking system last year to mitigate the outflow of non-resident funding from Qatar’s banks of around $22 billion.

Qatar’s central bank has hired New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead its investigation.]]>
5/14/2018 3:43:19 PM
<![CDATA[Foreign currency inflows to banks exceed $120B: Tarek Amer]]>
Amer announced targeting to pump LE 30 billion ($1.68 billion) in small enterprises to benefit 8-10 million citizens, adding that around LE 10 billion is going to facilitate medium enterprises.

He added that the government would pay a debt of $850 million to international oil companies.

“We enabled to attract around $25 billion from treasury bills and around $10 billion from the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), to raise the total foreign investments to $35 billion,” Amer said.

Egypt recorded the highest GDP among developing countries, ranking number six or seven in Morgan Stanley’s index for growth after China, Malaysia and India, he added.

Amer said earlier that all restrictions on foreign exchange in Egypt have been canceled, clarifying that investors now can manage their financial situations and get the foreign currency they want.

He pointed to the availability of liquidity necessary to finance projects, reaching all levels of society through financing small and medium enterprises.

The CBE also announced that Egypt’s foreign reserves stood at $44.03 billion at the end of April for the first time in history, with an increase of $1.42 billion, compared to $42.6 billion by the end of March.

The state’s foreign reserves rebounded after clinching the first tranche of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan.

The IMF’s executive board approved in November 2016 a three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFT) loan to Egypt worth $12 billion to support its economic reform program.

The current average of foreign reserves covers about eight months of Egypt's commodity imports, which is higher than the global average of about three months of commodity imports.

Egypt spends an average of $5 billion monthly on imports with an annual total of more than $60 billion.

Foreign currencies of Egypt’s foreign reserves include the U.S. dollar, euro, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and Chinese yuan.

The main function of the foreign exchange reserve, including its gold and various international currencies, is to provide commodities, repay the installments on interest rates of external debt, and to cope with economic crises.
5/14/2018 2:44:16 PM
<![CDATA[Banque Misr’s yield of currency concessions exceeds $13B]]>
Maghraby added that the dollar is available at all the bank’s branches all over the country.

Egypt floated it currency in November 2016, losing 50 percent of its value, to be priced according to the mechanisms of supply and demand, and to release the freedom of foreign currency operating banks to obtain the currency through the interbank dollar mechanism.

The dollar exchange at the bank rose 4 piasters on Monday, to record LE 17.69 for buying and LE 17.79 for selling.

The bank achieved its highest profit in its history in fiscal year 2016/2017, recording a total profit of LE 14.1 billion.

Founded in 1920, Banque Misr is one of Egypt’s state-owned banks. The bank has about 14,500 employees, serving more than eight million clients in Egypt, with a total paid-up capital amounting to LE 15 billion, according to the bank’s website.

The bank has about 600 electronically integrated local branches, as well as five branches in the United Arab Emirates and one in France, in addition to subsidiaries in Lebanon and Germany, with representative offices in China and Russia.
5/14/2018 1:46:18 PM
<![CDATA[Finance Ministry says 2018/19 GDP to reach LE5.2T]]>
A statement by the Finance Ministry put at 5.8 percent the targeted increase in GDP rate during 2018-2019.

The estimated growth rate for this year is 5.2 percent, the statement added.

The government is working with the Central Bank of Egypt to reduce inflation rates to less than 10 percent during 2019-2020, it noted.

The government is also seeking to decrease the public debt to make up 91-92 percent of the GDP, according to the statement.

Cutting public debt and the reduced interest rates will sure contribute to a big decline in expenditure on interest payments, the statement added. ]]>
5/14/2018 12:37:11 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar price up at major Egyptian banks]]>
The dollar exchange rate went up by two piasters recording LE17.69 for buying and LE17.79 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt.

At Banque Misr, the dollar price inched up by four piasters, recording LE17.69 for buying and LE17.79 for selling.

The dollar exchange rate was also up by four piaster recording LE17.75 for buying and LE17.85 for selling at Banque du Caire.

At Alexandria Bank, the dollar rate inched up by four piasters, recording EGP 17.74 for buying and LE17.84 for selling.

At the Commercial International Bank (CIB) the price increased by three piasters to record LE17.75 for buying and LE17.85 for selling.

At the Arab African International Bank, the rate went up by two piasters to register LE17.71 for buying and LE17.81 for selling.]]>
5/14/2018 12:15:21 PM
<![CDATA[Hermes records net profit of LE 249M in Q1 2018]]>
EFG Hermes’ revenues reached LE 945 million, according to the company’s press release.

The release revealed that fee and commission income rose 41 percent year on year to LE 659 million in 1Q2018, with the group’s solid performance during the quarter being driven by the strength of its non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) and buy-side business.

For the standalone profit, Hermes marked a decline to LE 33.75 million, compared to LE 207.15 million in Q1 of 2017.

“In spite of challenging regional market conditions, EFG Hermes is off to a strong start in 2018 aided by a strategy that focuses on building Egypt’s leading NBFI platform, a larger buy side business and a sell side business that extends beyond MENA into frontier markets. As those business lines continue to ramp up, we will, for the first time, segregate our consolidated profits between the investment bank and the NBFI to give our shareholders greater clarity into the value we have created by launching the latter three years ago,” EFG Hermes Holding Group CEO Karim Awad said.

“Our traditional lines of business continue to bolster the firm’s standing as a regional leader, with our Investment Banking Division closing four key equity, M&A and debt capital market transactions. Our Securities Brokerage Division was once again the largest broker in the region, while our buy-side platform saw revenues grow more than twofold for the quarter,” Awad noted.

In 2017, EFG Hermes’ consolidated profit declined 13.22 percent in 2017, recording LE 1.23 billion after tax and minority interest, compared to LE 1.41 billion in 2016.

Egyptian Financial Group Hermes Holding (EFG Hermes) is a public company, listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) since February 1999.

It operates within the diversified financial sector focusing on investment banking and brokerage. It has 36 subsidiaries operating across the Caribbean, Northern Africa and Middle East. EFG Hermes is based in 6th of October, Egypt, and was established in January 1984.
5/14/2018 11:26:52 AM
<![CDATA[CBE issues LE3B in T-bonds Monday]]>
The T-bonds were offered in two installments, with the first valued at LE 1.25 billion with a 7-year term and the second worth LE 1.75 billion with a three-year term.

The Finance Ministry plans to issue treasury bonds worth LE 438.750 billion during the fourth quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year 2017/18.

For the current fiscal year, the budget deficit is estimated to record LE 370 billion, and it is planned by the ministry to be financed through treasury bills and bonds as well as international and Arab loans.
5/14/2018 11:23:27 AM
<![CDATA[Euro extends gains as dollar rally loses steam]]>
Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the far-right League, both hostile to EU budget rules, spent the weekend in talks to forge a common policy programme. The parties were adversaries as recently as March but now look likely to form Italy’s next government.

The euro was 0.3 percent higher at $1.1972, having fallen last week to $1.1823, its weakest since Dec. 22.

“Italian politics aren’t a major moving factor in the euro zone yet. It’s not an existential threat and isn’t driving a lot of positioning or putting the euro’s bounce at risk,” said Manuel Oliveri, an FX strategist at Credit Agricole in London.

“I expect inflation will rebound in the euro zone and that will keep the European Central Bank’s stimulus unwinding on track.”

The dollar retreated further from a 2018 peak hit last week as traders booked gains on its recent run-up, spurred by the widening interest rate gaps in favour of the United States.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was down 0.1 percent at 92.515.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said the main catalyst for the dollar’s surge was the lack of improvement in euro zone economic data, prompting investors to unwind record short-dollar bets, particularly against emerging market currencies.

A loss of economic momentum in Europe has made policymakers in Europe and Britain more cautious about ending financial crisis-era policies.

On Friday, ECB President Mario Draghi said the euro zone needed a new “fiscal instrument” to help weaker member nations if they were being overly penalized by investors during a debt crisis.

Traders pushed out expectations of a rate hike in Britain to end-2018, and the European Central Bank boosting interest rates to the second half of 2019.

Analysts at ACLS said they expected a reduction in trade tensions between the U.S. and China this week to fuel risk-on sentiment that would be positive for the Australian dollar and negative for the yen, considered a safe-haven currency.

The Australian dollar was 0.2 percent higher at $0.7558 after rallying back from an 11-month low of $0.7413 plumbed on Wednesday.

Investors this week are focussed on speeches by Fed and ECB officials, as well as German GDP data due out on Tuesday and expected to show some slowdown in growth.]]>
5/14/2018 10:31:13 AM
<![CDATA[China's night-owl retail investors leverage up to dominate oil futures trade]]>
Wall Street may be about to open but these night owls are interested in trading something much closer to home – the new Shanghai crude oil futures contracts <0#ISC:> that were launched in late March.

Armed with risky loans from online firms or digging into their own savings, they threaten to play an outsized role in the new market, which has got off to a roaring start.

It is not for the fainthearted – one contract of 1,000 barrels costs about 476,000 yuan ($75,160) and traders are required to place a deposit – as much as 500,000 yuan – before they are allowed to trade.

On average, volume between 9 pm and midnight accounts for almost 60 percent of daily turnover, equivalent to about 22 million barrels of oil worth more than 10 billion yuan.

And executives of online lending platforms, managers at major brokerages, and traders interviewed by Reuters all said that most of the orders in that period come from retail investors – and a lot of it involves borrowed money.

Their dominance is a reflection of the interest among China’s burgeoning middle class for investments in the country’s vast commodities market – many of the crude oil traders also dabble in other commodities such as iron ore and steel. This is especially the case after the authorities in recent years succeeded in damping down speculative activity in stocks and in real estate.

It is also a sign of the kind of mania that is high-risk not only for the individual investors – who can quickly lose a lot of money borrowed on margin – but also for the long-term prospects of China’s oil futures market.

The retail investors can exaggerate price swings – they tend to close out positions every day, for example, to avoid holding costs - and the market could lose liquidity quickly if a sell-off prompts a sudden outflow of their money.

Liquidity, measured by open interest, hit 15,000 lots, equivalent to 15 million barrels, last Thursday, a record and almost double levels at the start of May after Washington withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and renewed sanctions on the oil exporter. That does suggest a pick up in interest from institutional investors in recent days.

But uncertainty about the role of retail players could in the longer run deter foreign institutional investors, potentially undermining China’s attempts to become a major force in oil trading, which so far has been seen largely as a success.


The market is also open for two short sessions between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. but the retail crowd prefers the night time because many of them have day jobs and because they can also trade the Shanghai contracts alongside the established benchmarks for crude oil futures, London’s Brent <0#LCO:> and WTI in the United States <0#CL:>.

The Shanghai market closes at 2.30 a.m but volume drops off after midnight as the part-time traders head off to bed.

“The crude markets tend to have more volatility at night, providing an opportunity for us to trade,” said Lv Peng, a 35-year-old investor based in Zhengzhou, a second-tier city in central Henan province. “Domestic retail investors often find cues for trading from international oil prices.”

Peng, a data analyst at a hedge fund, says he has on average been doing between 8 and 15 trades each week - and has been up most nights until 1 a.m. since the launch on March 26.

He uses his own money. But that is not the case with a lot of the other night traders.

For example, a bank employee in Nanjing in southern Jiangsu province who would only provide his surname, Liu, said he piled on trades in the nascent market with money borrowed from online financing platforms.

But Liu, who is in his mid-40s, lost 1 million yuan ($157,900) in the first two weeks after his bets that prices would rally went against him. Instead prices fell 11 percent.

He said he concluded that “retail investors are not able to make money in the crude futures market”, paid back his loans and quit the market feeling burned out.


The Shanghai Futures Exchange said in an emailed statement that investors should not use grey-market loans which have been banned by the government to trade their products and they should be aware of the risks of doing so.

Market regulator China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) did not respond to a request for comment.

“Small investors have made the crude futures trading market more active,” said Xu Wei, head of derivatives trading at software developer Fuxing Online Software Co, which has around 4,000 retail investors using its product to trade oil futures.

“At the same time, they are less experienced in the market and could easily lose all they have.”

Still, lenders say that if they weren’t providing margin financing the contract wouldn’t have had as successful a start.

“We provided almost two thirds of total volume contributed by retail investors. Imagine what would have happened to the market if we pulled out,” said an official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, at a lender called FindOil.

His clients traded a total of 20,000 to 30,000 barrels of crude each night, he said. That equates to 30 lots each. But with investors borrowing ten times the money they’re putting down, there is a real danger that some will lose their shirts.

With that kind of leverage, a small move in oil crude futures could be very costly for an investor if they were on the wrong side, said a client manager at a medium-sized broker in central Henan province.

Xiamen-based Gold and Forex Management Co is one of many firms advertising online as an asset management firm offering loans. Sources at loan companies say interest rates can be as high as 1 percent a day.

The company has more than 100 retail customers who needed help paying the deposit. Their combined deposit reached as high as 200 million yuan at one point, a company source said.

Still, there is one person who won’t be embarking on any more night-time trading adventures anytime soon. That’s Liu - the Nanjing banker.

He said he can handle the financial losses and his wife, though angry, did not blame him. From now on though, he’s going to invest in “less exciting” treasury bonds and is sticking to doing it during daylight hours.]]>
5/14/2018 10:26:43 AM
<![CDATA[ZTE employees in China cheer Trump tweet]]>
In an unexpected reversal of a hardline U.S. stance on the issue, Trump said on Twitter on Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping were working together to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast”, citing the loss of many jobs in China.

ZTE was last month hit by a move by Washington to forbid U.S. firms supplying the Chinese company with components and technology after it was found to have violated U.S. export restrictions by illegally shipping goods to Iran. It has since said that it has suspended its main business operations.

Trump’s tweet was reposted widely by ZTE employees on social media with comments expressing relief, taking it as a sign of a an impending settlement.

“Wow! Breaking good news!” a ZTE manager wrote on her WeChat account, pointing to Trump’s remark that the U.S. “Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done”.

“Almost there,” wrote another ZTE employee.

According to a source close to the company, ZTE management welcomed the latest development and planned to negotiate with the U.S. side for a resolution under the guidance of the Chinese government.

The news boosted telecom and semiconductor related stocks in China, which were among the best performing on Monday.

Zhong Fu Tong Group, a communication network maintenance service provider and ZTE supplier, rose by the daily limit of 10 percent.

ZTE employees contacted by Reuters all expressed surprise and optimism at the turn of events, although some also voiced concern that it was still unclear how long it would take to lift the ban and at what cost.

In reversal, Trump to save Chinese telecom jobs

“In any case, there are probably going to be layoffs, if the company has to pay another big fine,” said one employee, who declined to be named. He added that meetings were being held to discuss resumption of production.

In response to a Reuters request for comment, ZTE’s press department said it was preparing a statement.

Edison Lee, an analyst with Jefferies, expressed caution about the news in a investors’ note, saying that “it does not mean the tech-focused trade conflict between China and the US is over”.

Lee said Trump appeared to have made the move as a goodwill gesture at China’s request in order for trade talks to continue and because he expected concessions from China.]]>
5/14/2018 10:22:33 AM
<![CDATA[China says will work with U.S. for positive outcome in trade talks]]>
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comment at a regular briefing.

Vice Premier Liu He will attend the talks in Washington from May 15 to 19. High-level discussions in Beijing earlier this month appeared to make little progress but there have been signs recently of some easing in tensions.]]>
5/14/2018 10:20:16 AM
<![CDATA[Asian stocks up on hopes of thaw in U.S-China trade tensions]]>
Spreadbetters signaled a flat start for European shares with FTSE futures FF1c1 off 0.07 percent, while E-Minis for the S&P 500 ESc1 rose 0.3 percent.

Trump’s comments on Sunday came ahead of a second round of trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials this week to resolve an escalating trade dispute. China had said last week its stance in the negotiations would not change.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.4 percent, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 tacked on 0.5 percent.

Chinese shares came off the day’s highs but were still upbeat after Trump’s comments on ZTE (000063.SZ) (0763.HK), which JPMorgan analysts said was “a significant positive.”

Shanghai's SSE Composite .SSEC rose 0.2 percent while China's blue-chip .CSI300 was last up 0.8 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HSE climbed more than 1 percent.

“The fact Trump is now...working to find a resolution for ZTE marks the latest sign of thawing in Beijing-Washington relations,” JPMorgan said.

“Trump also needs China to remain on side ahead of his meeting with North Korea’s Kim and this also suggests that until the 12 June meeting the signaling from the U.S. on trade will be more positive.”

The United States has said it will lift sanctions on Pyongyang if North Korea agrees to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Malaysian ringgit MYR= slipped 1 percent to a four-month trough against the dollar in the first onshore trade since a shock election upset last week. It has come off lows since then, while Malaysian stocks sank as much as 2.7 percent at one point but have bounced back to be last up 0.7 percent.

Veteran Mahathir Mohamad came out of political retirement to lead the opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) to a stunning victory against prime minister Najib Razak, a former protege he had accused of corruption.

Some investors were concerned that populist promises such as repealing an unpopular goods and services tax and restoring a petrol subsidy could undermine the country’s finances.

But some analysts on Monday said Mahathir’s proposals could be positive for the economy.

“The repeal of GST, while only marginally negative for the fiscal deficit, will be a boon for consumers, who have been upset that they bear the burden of poor fiscal management and came out to vote against the establishment,” said Trinh Nguyen, senior economist at Natixis.


While tensions in the Korean peninsula have eased, U.S. plans to reintroduce sanctions against Iran have stoked anxiety in the Middle East.

Iran pumps about 4 percent of the world’s oil, and the latest development has sent oil prices near multi-year highs.

Citi analyst Mark Schofield said rising oil prices risk causing ‘stagflation’, which could create a particularly “hostile environment” for risk assets.

The United States threatened on Sunday to impose sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran, as the remaining participants in the Iran nuclear accord stiffened their resolve to keep that agreement operational.

In currencies, the dollar .DXY dipped was barely changed at 92.506 against a basket of major currencies after three straight days of losses.

Against the Japanese yen JPY=, it ticked up to 109.46 per dollar, remaining largely in a holding pattern since late last month.

The euro EUR= inched 0.1 percent up to $1.1958 following two consecutive sessions of gains as Italy's anti-establishment parties looked likely to form the next government.

Last week, the Bank of England held rates steady and New Zealand’s central bank said the official cash rate will remain at historic lows of 1.75 percent for “some time.”

That leaves the Fed as the only major central bank in the world committed to rate increases although recent data showing moderate inflation reading has cast doubt over the pace of any hikes.

Spot gold XAU= was up 0.2 percent at $1,320.06 an ounce, after eking out a small weekly gain last week.]]>
5/14/2018 10:14:58 AM
<![CDATA[NAFTA math may not add up to more U.S. auto jobs]]>
New math to determine what qualifies as vehicle content, what limits apply to allow tariff-free auto imports and how long companies would have to comply under a new NAFTA agreement will likely not move the needle for Detroit automakers in particular, industry executives and supply chain experts said.

Automakers are unlikely to uproot billions of dollars of investments in plants and supply chains. And those that cannot comply with standards for passenger cars could simply pay tariffs of around $800 to $900 per vehicle and buy low-cost parts from Asia to offset the cost, industry experts said.

“Broadly speaking the (tariff) increase isn’t big enough to make a wholesale change,” said Mark Wakefield, head of the North American automotive practice for consultancy AlixPartners. “No one is likely to shut down an active factory in Mexico and build a new one to replace that in the U.S.”

Tough U.S. proposals on autos are meant to bring back U.S. manufacturing jobs and central to the Trump administration’s approach to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

General Motors Co, soon to be the only Detroit Three automaker building pickup trucks in Mexico, is confident it could comply with content requirements for trucks the United States proposes without shifting production, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.

But GM’s Mexican-made trucks already have a significant share of their value, such as engines, produced in the United States at United Auto Workers union-represented factories, and GM would get another boost if it is allowed to tally engineering done in Michigan.

GM is retooling a high-volume factory to build a new generation of large Chevrolet and GMC pickups in Silao, Mexico. Pickup trucks that do not have enough U.S. or North American content under NAFTA rules could be hit with a crippling 25 percent tariff.

Last year GM churned out more than 400,000 large pickup trucks from Silao, more than 40 percent of its 2017 U.S. pickup truck sales.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Friday a revised treaty could prompt FCA to “redirect” some Mexican production but would not cause it to further dial back its presence in Mexico.

In January FCA had said it would shift production of heavy-duty pickup trucks from Mexico to Michigan in 2020 to reduce the profit risks should the United States pull out of NAFTA.

Senior U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials on Friday ended a week of talks without a deal to modernize NAFTA, agreeing instead to resume negotiations soon, ahead of a deadline next week.


The United States wants 40 percent of the value of light-duty passenger vehicles and 45 percent of a truck’s content to be built at hourly wages of $16 to qualify for tariff-free import from Mexico.

Those demands are aimed at preserving relatively higher-wage U.S. and Canadian production and pressuring Mexico’s low auto wages.

Mexico wants 70 percent of a vehicle’s content to be made within North America, less than the 75 percent U.S. negotiators propose.

Automakers that do not comply with tougher U.S. or North American content and wage rules, if adopted, could face 2.5 percent tariffs on cars or sport utility vehicles shipped to the United States from Mexico. That may be a level of pain they can live with.

Automakers producing sedans, SUVs and crossovers in Mexico include Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Mazda Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Honda Motor Co Ltd and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE).

The U.S. proposal would allow automakers to count salaries for engineering, research, sales, software and product development jobs, a provision favoring Detroit automakers versus foreign brands.

And companies would have two, four or nine years to comply, depending on the specific condition involved.

Still, some automakers are more of a question mark, especially when it comes to trucks. Toyota plans to expand production in Mexico of its Tacoma pickup trucks, part of a realignment of its North American manufacturing that includes a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in Alabama.

It also makes Tacomas in San Antonio, Texas, so could in theory switch production. The automaker declined to comment.

And the Trump administration proposals could complicate matters for electric vehicles and self-driving cars automakers want to build in Mexico. The U.S. proposals call for 75 percent of an electric or autonomous vehicle’s value to be made within North America to avoid tariffs.

Since much of those vehicle’s value can come from batteries made overseas, that means automakers must make up for the content largely on the human side.

At nine years, electronic vehicles are subject to the longest period until they must comply.

“EVs and AVs have so much electronic content and there is no electronics industry here,” said Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Nine years is not enough to build up an electronics industry to that scale.”]]>
5/14/2018 10:11:44 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s wheat production to increase 4.3% YoY in 2018/19: FAS]]>
The forecast is based on an increase in total area harvested reaching 1.32 million hectares. The report is revising upward MY 2017/18 wheat production to 8.45 MMT by 350,000 metric tons (MT) from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) official estimate of 8.1 million metric tons.

“We are revising upward the wheat area harvested by 60,000 HA from USDA’s official estimate of 1.26 million hectare,” the report said.

It explained that Egyptian wheat production in MY 2017/18 displaced 30,000 hectares of other winter field crops (sugar beet and Egyptian clover or Berseem), as well as 20,000 hectares of winter vegetable crops in Upper Egypt and in the Northern Delta.

The report added that farmers’ profitability rose in tandem with higher government procurement prices paid during the final calendar year 2017 harvest.

As for imports, FAS Cairo forecasts Egyptian wheat imports in MY 2018/19 at 12.5 million metric tons, in line with USDA’s official forecast figure of 12 million metric tons.

The report said that in calendar year 2017 (January-December), imports by the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) reached about 7.53 MMT, up from 4.3 MMT in calendar year 2016.

Imports by the GASC in CY 2017 accounted for 60.2 percent of Egypt’s total wheat imports. Private sector imports reached 4.9 MMT, accounting for 39.8 percent of Egypt’s total wheat imports, data from the report showed.

Concerning wheat consumption, FAS Cairo forecasts Egypt’s total wheat consumption in MY 2018/19 at 20 MMT, up 1.5 percent from the MY 2017/18 estimate. The latter remains unchanged from USDA’s official estimate of 19.7 million metric tons.
5/13/2018 6:49:13 PM
<![CDATA[$975M to fund development of Upper Egypt: Min.]]>
He underlined that the program costs $975 million, including a $500 million loan from the bank and $475 million to be paid by the government.

During a seminar held by the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy in Cairo to launch the Egyptian Women Entrepreneurship Guide, the Director of the Affairs of the Local Development Minister's Office Hamza Darwish said in a speech on behalf of Guindy, that the ministry will conduct training courses for local council members.

This will happen in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth, within the framework of the ministry's plan to train them on all the activities of the local councils, which would contribute to the development of society.

Darwish underlined that the participation of women is important to strengthen their presence in various local councils throughout Egypt.

He underscored that the 2014 constitution provides support for decentralization, both financially and politically, adding that the law regulates local council units, as it allocates a quarter of the council seats to women.]]>
5/13/2018 5:44:14 PM
<![CDATA[Remittances from Egyptian expats increase 11.6% YoY in February ]]>
Remittances jumped 24 percent year-on-year in the period between July 2017 and February 2018 to reach a record of $17.3 billion, compared to $13.9 billion the previous year, CBE data showed.

Earlier CBE data showed that remittances from expatriate Egyptians increased to $26.4 billion since floating the Egyptian pound in November 2016 and until November 2017, compared to $22.3 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Remittances increased by $2.4 billion in the period between July and November 2017 to stand at $10.4 billion, compared to $8.1 billion in the same period of 2016.

Remittances are one of Egypt’s main foreign currency sources, which have been on the rise since Egypt floated its local currency in November 2016.
5/13/2018 5:22:45 PM
<![CDATA[Industry Min. attends signing of protocol with ABB company]]>
The protocol aims at boosting joint cooperation between the ministry and the company in the fields of training and energy use efficiency.

The protocol was signed by head of the ministry's Productivity & Vocational Training Department Ahmed Al-Ghomazy, rapporteur of the Industrial council for technology & innovation centers engineer Hanan Al-Hadary, and managing director of ABB Egypt, north and central Africa Nagy Grigory.

The signing ceremony was attended by Swiss Ambassador in Cairo Paul Garnier and Swedish Ambassador in Cairo Jan Thesleff as well as the leaderships of the ministry and the company.

In a statement, the minister of trade and industry said the protocol is part of the private sector's efforts to support the plans of the government for industrial development and foreign trade which focus on developing industry, education and technical and vocational training.

He also said the protocol focuses on the importance of benefiting from the company in the fields of technology, electricity and robots, expressing his ministry's keenness on making use of all initiatives aiming at rationalizing the use of fuel and energy .

He said the ministry applied a program to rationalize electricity in 80 cement, ceramics and iron factories.

For his part, Grigory said the protocol is part of his company's keenness on being present in Egypt and north and central African markets.

ABB Company CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer in Cairo had said after a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in April that his company fully support Egypt’s goal of becoming an energy hub and a center for export-oriented industrial production”.

“For ABB, Egypt is our hub for the Near East, North and Central Africa. We have been present here since 1926 and are proud to invest and provide job opportunities for Egyptians”, Spiesshofer noted.

In Egypt, ABB have five factories; with its local partners, the total number of people employed by the ABB ecosystem is approximately 3,500, he pointed out.

ABB has invested more than 200 million dollars in expanding and upgrading its facilities in the last decade. About 20 percent of ABB’s production in Egypt is currently exported; the target is to increase that figure to 25 percent. ]]>
5/13/2018 5:03:33 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Sunday in green]]>
The benchmark EGX30 increased 0.17 percent, to close at 17,184.02 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 rose 0.35 percent, to reach 2,941.29 points.

The small- and mid-cap index EGX70 jumped 0.24 percent, closing at 855.54 points, and the broader index EGX100 went up 0.16 percent, to close at 2,199.28 points.

Market capitalization recorded LE 960.86 billion, compared to LE 962.01 billion in Thursday’s session.

The trading volume reached 220.5 million shares, traded through 23,856 transactions, with a turnover of LE 813.89 million.

Egyptian investors were net sellers at LE 645.23 million, while Arab and foreign investors were net buyers at LE 5.17 million and LE 55.39 million, respectively.

Egyptian, Arab and foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 45.64 million, LE 3.94 million and LE 365,805, respectively.

Arab and Foreign organizations bought at LE 1.23 million and LE 55.03 million, respectively, while Egyptian organizations sold at LE 106.21 million.

Rakta Paper Manufacturing, Arab Valves Company, and Ismailia National Food Industries were top gainers of the session by 8.39 percent, 8.07 percent and 8.04 percent, respectively.

While Cairo Educational Services, Suez Cement, and National Bank of Kuwait- NBK were top losers of the session by 8.61 percent, 5.57 percent and 4.88 percent, respectively.

EGX ended Thursday’s session in red, as EGX30 decreased 1.75 percent, EGX70 dropped 0.94 percent and EGX100 went down 1.32 percent.
5/13/2018 4:39:29 PM
<![CDATA[MSMEDA signs 5 contracts for youth employment in Assiut ]]>
Head of MSMEDA Nevine Gamea said in a statement that the contracts come in light of the state’s ambitious plan to curb illegal immigration.

Egypt’s unemployment rate slipped to 11.8 percent in 2017, compared to 12.5 percent in 2016, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said last month.

CAPMAS said that the unemployment rate among young people from 15 to 29 years old recorded 24.8 percent of the total labor force in 2017, clarifying that the rate among males reached 20 percent, while among females reached 36.5 percent.

In the same age range, the unemployment of holders of intermediate, university and higher degrees reached 31.8 percent of the total labor force in 2017; 24.9 percent for males and 47.2 percent for females.

Egypt’s labor force recorded 29.47 million individuals in 2017, compared to 28.93 million individuals in 2016, with a 540,000 individual increase, the data showed.

The unemployment rate in urban areas recorded 14.5 percent, compared to 9.8 percent in rural areas due to the availability of employment opportunities in rural areas.
5/13/2018 3:54:22 PM
<![CDATA[Canada seeks backing Egyptian woman in entrepreneurship: Amb.]]>
The current contributions of the women in entrepreneurship represent 21 percent, while men account for 40 percent, the ambassador added.

"The embassy, in cooperation with its partners like the National Council for Women, is working on removing all hindrances crippling women's progress in the entrepreneurship domain," ambassador Dutton said while addressing a symposium held by the Egyptian Center For Economic Studies (ECES).

He pointed out to launching a number of programs, in cooperation with authorities concerned, to back entrepreneurship and offer financial support with a view to boosting equality between men and women.

Co-organized by the Canadian embassy in Cairo, Sunday's symposium launches an Egyptian woman's entrepreneurship guide]]>
5/13/2018 3:04:43 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, UAE trade exchange hit $4.9B in 2017]]>
The UAE imports from Egypt achieved a growth over the aforementioned period to record $2.1 billion in 2017 compared with $649 million in 2012.

The report also reviewed the strong ties binding Egypt and UAE, noting that they are exerting much efforts to increase mutual investments and trade exchange as well as cooperation between their private and public sectors.]]>
5/13/2018 2:48:49 PM
<![CDATA[Consortium to build natural gas processing plant in Egypt’s Western Desert ]]>
The construction will start once government approvals are issued. It is expected to start before year-end, Chairman of AGIBA Petroleum Company Mohamed al-Kaffas said.

He said that the plant will receive natural gas from companies working in the Western Desert and will link it with the natural gas complex in Alexandria through a 200-kilometer pipeline.

Construction of the plant is expected to be completed in three years, Kaffas said, adding his company will dig 28 new natural gas wells that will enter production in tandem with the new station.

AGIBA petroleum company is a joint venture between Eni and the EGPC. AGIBA is active since 1981 with operations mainly focused in Eni’s oil and gas concessions located in the Western Desert Area of Egypt.

Egypt’s gas production currently stands at 5.5 billion cubic feet a day, after adding some 1.6 million cubic feet as a result of starting production from several projects, including the giant Zohr gas field.

The country's total natural gas consumption is about six billion cubic feet per day, of which roughly 65 percent goes to the electricity sector.

The new discoveries are expected to turn Egypt into a net exporter of natural gas from a net importer.

Egypt plans to stop importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) by the end of the 2017/18 fiscal year ending in June as it accelerates production at a number of newly-discovered gas fields, Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla said in January.

5/13/2018 2:28:33 PM
<![CDATA[Difficult to shield German firms after U.S. withdrawal from Iran deal: minister]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to renege on the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and reimpose sanctions against Tehran came with the threat of penalties against any foreign firms involved in business there.

Germany - along with France and Britain - has said it remains committed to the nuclear deal. The foreign ministers of the three European powers will meet their Iranian counterpart in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss a way forward.

“I do not see a simple solution to shield companies from all risks of American sanctions,” Maas told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“The talks with the Europeans, Iran and the other signatories to the agreement are therefore also about how it can be possible to continue trade with Iran,” Maas said.

Maas said the Europeans wanted to ensure that Iran would continue to abide by the rules and restrictions of the nuclear agreement.

“After all, Iran is ready to talk. It’s clear that there should also be economic incentives - that will not be easy after the U.S. decision,” Maas said.

The minister echoed calls from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders that Iran should agree to a broader deal that went beyond the original accord and included Iran’s “problematic role in the region”.

The Trump administration portrayed its rejection of the nuclear agreement as a response, in part, to Tehran’s interventions in the Middle East, underpinning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough line towards Iran.]]>
5/13/2018 2:12:09 PM
<![CDATA[Bourse gains LE 6.3B at onset of Sunday trading]]>
The market capital gained LE 6.3 billion to reach LE 968 billion.

The EGX 30 benchmark index went up by 1.09 percent to close at 17,341.42 points.

The broader EGX 70 index of the leading smaller and mid cap enterprises (SMEs) inched up by 0.34 percent to close at 856.46 points.

The all-embracing EGX 100 index rose by 0.62 percent to stand at 2,209.27 points. ]]>
5/13/2018 12:57:56 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabian stocks lead regional gains with blue-chip boost]]>
The Saudi index was 1.1 percent higher at 0830 GMT with Al Rajhi Bank, the kingdom’s second largest bank by assets and one of the main beneficiaries of a huge inflow of foreign money this year, rising 1.8 percent.

Another gainer was the biggest petrochemical producer, Saudi Basic Industries, which added 1.4 percent.

Such stocks have attracted foreign inflows in anticipation of the upgrade of the stock market to emerging market status. In March global index compiler FTSE Russell decided to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status, and MSCI is widely expected to make a similar decision in June.

One of the worst performers was Al Babtain Power and Telecommunication Co, which was down 7 percent. The company announced a 50.4 percent drop in first quarter profit after the market closed on Thursday.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas was the most heavily traded stock and down 5.8 percent after the company said it reached an agreement with the committee representing holders of its $700 million sukuk to restructure and refinance the instruments. The move appears to end a nearly year-long legal battle in Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Shares in Abu Dhabi’s Union National Bank fell 4.1 percent after it reported a drop in first quarter net profit to 425.6 million dirhams ($116 million), from 451.9 million dirhams a year ago. That was slightly below forecasts of SICO Bahrain and EFG Hermes.

Abu Dhabi’s index dropped 0.2 percent.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.9 percent, driven by a 1.9 percent gain by Dubai Islamic Bank and a 1.2 percent climb by Emaar Properties. ]]>
5/13/2018 12:46:51 PM
<![CDATA[Brexit seen threatening UK links in EU supply chain]]>
There was just too much uncertainty about Brexit to include British companies in the group, a representative of the firm told a meeting of business representatives and government officials from Britain and France in February.

“The elephant in the room was Brexit,” Ridyard said of the meeting, which was organised by the British embassy in Paris to spur more bilateral business but only served to increase her anxiety about Britain’s departure from the European Union.

“If companies are not currently looking to the UK for their products, then we will be losing out on a generation of strategic deals,” Ridyard said. “That business will be gone.”

One of the biggest concerns for manufacturers as Britain heads into crunch Brexit negotiations this year is over one of the building blocks of cross-border trade: a customs regime.

There are signs that many EU companies are holding back on using British firms in their supply chains - which can involve parts criss-crossing borders several times - because of what they still don’t know about tariffs, regulations and the potential for costly delays at the border.

Jeegar Kakkad, policy director at ADS, a British aerospace trade group, said big aviation firms were now asking British suppliers to warehouse a month’s worth of stock at their own expense, to offset the risk of Brexit border delays.

“That is going to be a significant challenge in particular for smaller companies,” he said.

Britain’s economy has slowed sharply since the Brexit vote in June 2016, but Ridyard’s firm, Produmax Ltd, is so far riding out the storm.

In its plant in Shipley, a historic manufacturing centre near the northern English city of Leeds once famous for its wool and cotton mills, workers using precision milling machines and lathes turn chunks of steel and aluminium into flight-critical parts used in the flaps of plane wings.

The company, which Ridyard and her husband Jeremy bought in 1997 and employs 71 people, will soon open a second site.

However, new work recently has been in one-off jobs that other suppliers could not fulfil, not long-term strategic contracts.

“There’s no point complaining about it,” said Ridyard, the company’s financial director. “We’re still investing. But we’re just a bit more hesitant than we were.”

Employers groups say the best way to limit the impact of Brexit would be to keep the world’s sixth-biggest economy in a customs union with the EU.

Although staying in a customs union would not affect Britain’s huge services industry, it would avoid tariffs on trade in goods with the bloc and, crucially for many manufacturers who have spent years honing just-in-time schedules, it would reduce the risk of border delays.

It would also avoid the risk that a new hard border with Ireland could fuel new sectarian violence 20 years after a deal that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out the customs union option, however. Brexit campaigners, including some of May’s own ministers, object to it because it would stop Britain from striking bilateral trade deals, one of the big advantages of Brexit according to the Leave campaign in 2016.

Trade minister Liam Fox, a Leave supporter, said staying in a customs union would be a “complete sell-out” of voters.

Instead, May has proposed that Britain could collect duties on non-EU imports on behalf of the bloc, an idea dismissed as “crazy” by her own foreign minister Boris Johnson who said it would be too bureaucratic and would still restrict Britain’s ability to do deals outside the EU.

Johnson and other Leave campaigners favour a plan which they say would ease the need for border checks by using a “trusted trader” registration scheme and camera technology.

EU officials dismiss both ideas as unworkable and many manufacturers are worried there might be no customs deal at all, putting the supply chains they rely on at serious risk.

In April, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said Britain had to recognise that future investments in the country were “not a given” because of the lack of clarity about Britain’s long-term trade relationship with the EU.

ADS’s Kakkad said a deal struck by London and Brussels in March to keep their trading ties unchanged until the end of 2020 was welcome, as was Britain’s intention of staying in Europe’s aviation safety agency, which could help avoid divergence in rules.

But firms were not counting on a smooth transition because it remained contingent on a broader deal being reached in the coming months, he said.

Supporters of Brexit have long argued that the declining share of Britain’s exports going to the EU - down from 54 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2016 - shows why it must prioritise trade deals with countries such as India, China or the United States.

But for aviation, at least, bilateral trade deals are not critical, Kakkad said.

Most civil aircraft parts carry no tariffs under a deal agreed by more than 50 countries, and the global industry follows standards that are increasingly harmonised, he said.

What matters more to them, like other British manufacturers, is the growing importance of the EU in their supply chains.

In 2014, 69 percent of British exports to the EU were goods or services used in supply chains, up from 61 percent in 2000, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank estimates.

More than half the EU’s exports to Britain are similarly classed as intermediate inputs, the IFS says.

For sure, Brexit has had some upsides for British companies.

Ridyard said the fall in the pound’s value helped Produmax’s sales abroad, raising extra cash for investment in increased automation.

More British companies plan to move production back to Britain from the EU than those intending to invest in the bloc, a survey by EEF, a manufacturing body, found.

In aviation, Brexit has spurred British firms to try to win more business from Boeing Corp. (BA.N) and its big U.S. suppliers to hedge against the risk of lost EU business.

But employers say the biggest issue counting against British firms when it comes to clinching EU work is the uncertainty.

A survey of supply chain managers published in March by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply showed nearly one in four British firms with suppliers in the EU was struggling to secure contracts that run beyond Brexit in March 2019.

To hedge against possible barriers to work in the EU, Ridyard is looking at Britain’s oil and gas sector. Produmax’s project development manager recently attended a petroleum sector event in Aberdeen and came back with potential leads.

But unlike aviation, where contracts can run for 10 years, oil and gas work tends to be short-term and the sector’s outlook is less buoyant.

Boeing believes the market for passenger and freight planes, by contrast, will be worth $6 trillion over the next 20 years.

“Not to be able to take part in that fully as a nation is disappointing,” Ridyard said.]]>
5/13/2018 12:42:27 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s exports reach $4.5B in first 2 months of 2018]]>
Egypt’s exports to the five biggest Egyptian products’ importers recorded $1.598 billion during the first two months of 2018.

The five countries are the United Arab Emirates, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Italy.

The exports to these five countries allocated 35.3 percent of the total amount of exports in January and February of 2018.

According to CAPMAS report

The UAE came at the top of the Egyptian importers list in January and February at $466.2 million through importing pearls, ornaments, precious stones, electric machines, fruit and vegetables.

Italy came second at $466.2 million through importing fuel and mineral oils, aluminum, fertilizers, vegetables, and chemical products, followed by Turkey which imported fuel and mineral oils, aluminum, fertilizers, vegetables, and chemical products at $335 million.

Saudi Arabia came fourth and imported fruit, vegetables, clothing, dairy products, eggs and honey, electrical machinery and equipment from Egypt by $228.9 million.

In the fifth place, China’s imports from Egypt allocated 4.2 percent of total exports by $189.5 million. The main commodities that are exported to China were fuel and mineral oils, fruits and nuts, plastics, cotton, stones and cement.

The petroleum exports jumped to $407 million in the first two months of 2018, from $385 million in the same period of 2017.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s non petroleum exports jumped 200 percent in the first two months of 2018, reaching $64 million, compared to $21 million in the same period of 2017.

In 2017, Egypt's non-oil exports rose 10 percent to $22.42 billion, up from $20.41 billion in 2016.

Egypt’s exports revived after the flotation of the Egyptian currency by losing about 50 percent of its value, to become attractive to foreign markets.
5/13/2018 12:28:25 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar price up in major Egyptian banks]]>
The dollar exchange rate went up by one piaster recording LE17.67 for buying and LE17.77 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt.

At Banque Misr, the dollar price stood LE17.65 for buying and LE17.75 for selling.

The dollar exchange rate was up by one piaster recording EGP 17.71 for buying and EGP 17.81 for selling at Banque du Caire, the National Bank of Greece and Al Baraka Bank while at the at the Commercial International Bank (CIB) the price increased by two piasters to record LE17.72 for buying and LE17.82 for selling.

At the Arab African International Bank, the rate went up by two piasters to register LE17.69 for buying and LE17.79 for selling.

At Alexandria Bank, the dollar rate inched up by two piasters, recording EGP 17.70 for buying and EGP 17.80 for selling. ]]>
5/13/2018 11:38:46 AM
<![CDATA[PM, petroleum minister review new energy projects]]>
They mulled the rates of carrying out these projects including oil and natural gas explorations in the short and long terms to increase the production in different regions of the country.

The meeting tackled projects to both establish new refineries and to upgrade existing ones as scheduled to be operational as soon as possible.

The implementation of a national project to provide house with natural gas has been also probed at the meeting.]]>
5/12/2018 7:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s petroleum exports increase to $407M in first 2 months of 2018]]>
The value of crude oil exports in that period stood at $343 million.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s non petroleum exports jumped 200 percent in the first two months of 2018, reaching $64 million, compared to $21 million in the same period of 2017, the CAPMAS data showed.

Egypt’s imports in the same period stood at $4.5 million.

Previous CAPMAS data showed that Egypt’s oil exports value decreased by 10 percent year-on-year to reach $208 million in October 2017, compared to $231 million in October 2016.

The country’s oil imports value fell by 9.3 percent to record $411 million in October 2017, compared to $453 million in the same month of 2016.

Egypt’s Petroleum Ministry is planning to boost its production of gasoline, diesel, butane gas and jet fuel through the implementation of several projects to develop and expand refineries, with LE 8.3 billion investments. The projects would add 11.6 million tons of petroleum products in the coming four years.

5/12/2018 7:01:41 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Uganda discuss ways to activate cooperation ]]>
At the end of the meetings of the Egyptian-Ugandan joint committee held last week in Cairo, Trade Minister Tarek Kabil signed a MoU with the Ugandan side to cooperate in the field of construction and management of industrial zones.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the start of the implementation of the MoU that aims to enhance economic cooperation between Egypt and Uganda, Abdel-Razek said.

During Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s visit to Egypt last week, where he met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, both presidents saw the signing of three MOUs in the fields of electricity, agriculture and industrial zones.

Museveni’s two-day visit came on an invitation by Sisi and it aimed to discuss ways to promote bilateral relations, in line with Egypt’s keenness to coordinate and cooperate with its brotherly African countries in different fields.

Trade Exchange between Egypt and Uganda increased 27 percent year-on-year to reach $66 million, Head of the Export Development Authority (EDA) Sherine el-Shorbagy said last week.

During a press conference on Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said that the Egyptian private sector is willing to increase its investments in Uganda.

He referred to an Egyptian company that is conducting a study to establish several projects, estimated as $300 million, in the fields of electricity and energy.
5/12/2018 4:15:12 PM
<![CDATA[German online bank uses Bitcoins to transfer loans]]>
Bitbond uses cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to bypass the Swift international transfer system to lend money across the globe rapidly and at low cost.

“Traditional money transfers are relatively costly due to currency exchange fees, and can take up to a few days,” Albrecht told Reuters TV in his office in Berlin’s fashionable neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg. “With Bitbond, payments work independently of where customers are. Via internet it is very, very quick and the fees are low.”

Clients hold the loans in digital tokens like Bitcoin only for seconds or minutes until they are exchanged back into the currency of the country where they wish to receive the funds, avoiding the crypto currencies fluctuating exchange rates.

Bitcoin has been used as collateral for loans, but never as a way of transferring credit in currency internationally.

Albrecht’s service has been growing in popularity among clients since he launched the company in 2013. His office employs 24 people from 12 countries who manage loans for 100 clients amounting to around $1 million each month.

Most clients are small business owners or freelance workers, Albrecht says. Loans are relatively small and don’t exceed 50,000 dollars. In 2016, Bitbond was officially licensed as a bank and has gained many investors since.

Adoption of Bitcoin has been rapid in Germany. It trails only the U.S., according to Bitnodes, which tracks the location of all the Bitcoin nodes that transmit data about new transactions.]]>
5/12/2018 3:37:28 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to attract new Brazilian investments ]]>
Head of the Egyptian side at the council Emad el-Sewedy said.

Sewedy said that Brazil’s high custom duties, amounting to 25 percent, hindered efforts to boost trade between Egypt and Brazil, however the Mercosur free trade agreement will add a competitive edge to Egypt’s trade with Brazil.

The Mercosur agreement is a free trade agreement signed in 2010 by Egypt and the Mercosur bloc, compromising Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. The agreement came into force in September 2017.

Sewedy added that Egyptian companies should make use of the benefits of the agreement and that they should work on knowing the demands of the Brazilian market and consumers so that they can compete in the South American market.

He urged companied to pay visits to Brazil to study and understand the market there.

Egypt is seeking to boost its trade with Brazil in light of a plan to develop the country’s foreign trade and investment relations to support the national economy.

Trade relations between Egypt and Brazil are expected to grow in light of the Mercosur agreement, which entails the immediate elimination of tariffs on a list of products for both sides, while a gradual reduction of customs duties will be applied to other products over the upcoming 10 years.

After this period, products will enjoy tariff-free movement among Mercosur countries and Egypt.

Egypt’s Export Development Authority has organized the first Egyptian trade mission to Brazil from April 2-5, 2018, within the framework of the Mercosur agreement.

Also in April, a Brazilian trade delegation arrived in Cairo to discuss ways of boosting commercial relations between Egypt and Brazil.

Egypt’s exports to Brazil increased by 64.7 percent year-on-year in 2017, to stand at $155.4 million, compared to $94.3 million in 2016. Brazilian investments in Egypt stand at $500 million.
5/12/2018 2:12:43 PM
<![CDATA[Finland seeks to exchange expertise with Egypt in entrepreneurship domain]]>
The Finnish ambassador asserted that her country has achieved a significant success in the entrepreneurship domain, saying that Egypt can benefit from such expertise to improve its economy.

Addressing a seminar held at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport on Saturday, Debraise stressed that Egypt can benefit from the fact that the youth are representing large portion of its population to establish private businesses.

She said that the Egyptian government should promote the growth of entrepreneurship among the private sector, a move that would provide job opportunities and boost small and medium-sized projects.

She highlighted the need to offer the talented youth opportunities so as to improve Egypt’s economic growth.

She stressed that Egypt and Finland are keen to boost economic cooperation, expressing hope that the seminar would result in fruitful outcome promoting bilateral cooperation in the entrepreneurship field. ]]>
5/12/2018 1:35:29 PM
<![CDATA[Sukari mine’s production of gold reaches 106.7 tons: Centamin]]>
April’s production amounted to 1.2 tons, he said.

Raghy added that his company targets producing some 560,000 ounces in 2018, up from 550,000 in 2017.

Exports of Sukari Gold Mine represent two percent of the Egyptian exports balance, according to Centamin.

Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla said in late December that the Sukari Gold Mine has contributed a total of $250 million in revenues to the government since it started production in early 2010.

The government said that it aims to increase the mining sector's contribution to the GDP to more than five percent. It currently contributes around 0.5 percent of the GDP.

Molla said that the government is working to identify the challenges facing the sector and that his ministry aims to boost investments by amending the sector's administrative and legislative systems.

Located in the south-easternmost region of the Eastern Desert, Sukari mine is the first large-scale modern gold mine in Egypt, with a base case production rate of about 500,000 ounces per annum, according to the official website of Centamin.
5/12/2018 12:39:34 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's exports to Netherlands up 29.5% in 2017: Trade Min.]]>
The figures were shown by the latest report received by the minister about the development of the trade exchange movement between Egypt and the Netherlands during 2017.

"The decline of Egypt's imports from the Netherlands by nine percent during 2017 contributed to reducing trade balance deficit between Egypt and the Netherlands by 21.7 percent", Kabil said in a statement.

He pointed out to the notable development of trade relations between Egypt and the European country.

Oils, urea, glass fiber, aluminium, cables and textile topped Egypt's exports to the Netherlands, he added.]]>
5/12/2018 12:10:48 PM