Oil price uncertainty pulls down petchem performance

Updated 05 April 2015
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Oil price uncertainty pulls down petchem performance

The Tadawul All-Share Index fell 1.65 percent to 8,589.7 points on Sunday after Iran's nuclear deal with world powers fueled concern about a further decline in oil prices, which would hurt margins at Saudi petrochemical firms.
"The petrochemical sector will remain under pressure; mainly due to lower prices of end products," Mushtaq Ahmed, a senior financial analyst at Zughaibi & Kabbani Financial Consultants, Jeddah, told Arab News, reacting to the market performance.
"There high level of uncertainty exists in oil market; the improvement in oil prices will reflect on petrochemical stocks," he added.
The petrochemical index fell on Sunday by 1.33 percent to 5,580.17 points. The index is down 4.73 percent so far this year.
The stocks of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the biggest petrochemical maker, lost 1.5 percent on Sunday.
The value of traded shares on Sunday reached SR5.88 billion.
Brent oil plunged nearly 4.0 percent on Thursday.
Basul Al-Ghalayini, CEO of BMG Financial Group, told Arab News: “Obviously, there are several positive factors that have been affecting the market to date. They include good Q1 results, Moody’s upgrade of the Saudi sovereign risk rating to Aa3 and the anticipation to the market opening before the summer to the international institutional players.”
He added: “However, the unknown geopolitical factor in the south is still a matter of concern to some investors, which is reflected by low trading volume, especially if there are advancements by the Allied ground troops into the Houthi strongholds inside Yemen.”
According to Saudi Stock Exchange’s Statistical Report – First Quarter 2015 released this week, the TASI closed at 8,778.89 at the end of the first quarter, dropped 694.82 points or 7.33 percent over the close of the same period of the previous year.
On an YTD basis, TASI registered a positive increase of 5.35 percent or 445.59 points. The highest close level for the index during the period was 9,691.00 as on March 12, 2015.
The report said total equity market capitalization at the end of the
first quarter 2015 reached SR1.90 trillion ($506.33 billion), decreased by 1.37 percent over the same period of the previous year.
The total value of shares traded for reached SR571.19 billion ($152.32 billion) at the end of the first quarter, increased by 21.95 percent over the same period of the previous year.
The Tadawul report said total number of shares traded reached 21.91 billion shares for the first quarter 2015 compared to 17.29 billion shares traded during the first quarter 2014, increased by 26.73 percent.
The total number of transactions executed during the first quarter 2015 reached 9.67 million compared to 7.78 million trades during the first quarter 2014, increased by 24.24 percent.
Francisco Quintana, head of Research at Asiya Investments, said: “The Tadawul’s performance has been driven by investor sentiment stemming from the trend in oil prices, and rise in risk coming from developments in Yemen. In my opinion both factors will continue to weigh on performance in April.”
He said it’s unclear what could drive a recovery. Actually, a deterioration of the situation is likelier. The framework nuclear agreement that Iran signed last week will probably weaken oil prices. Markets will expect a supply increase (even though it might take years to materialize) and pay less for oil.
He said the situation in the petrochemical sector is particularly worrying. Earnings are reported in annual terms therefore this quarter will exhibit, again, substantial decreases in earnings compared to Q2, 2014.
“The evolution of stocks is not unique to Saudi Arabia, all GCC markets have suffered more or less the same correction this month.
“We do not expect a strong recovery in oil prices, rather a mild one toward the end of the year. After the summer the outlook should improve, at least superficially, because the market and firms will have absorbed the impact of the decrease in prices,” Quintana said.


Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

Updated 23 April 2019
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Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

  • The move could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on
  • The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns

PARIS: E-commerce giant Amazon and French retailer Casino are expanding their partnership, with Amazon installing pick-up lockers in Casino stores and more of the French company’s products to be available on Amazon.
The move, which follows an initial co-operation between Casino’s upmarket Monoprix supermarket chain and Amazon in Paris, could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on.
An Amazon spokeswoman said it had a policy of not commenting on market speculation. Amazon’s purchase of bricks-and-mortar US food retailer Whole Foods Market last year has raised speculation it could seek to buy a European food retailer.
The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns over its finances and those of parent company Rallye.
The deal, unveiled on Tuesday, will see Amazon lockers installed in 1,000 locations across France in nine of Casino’s brands, including Monoprix, Monop, Geant, Hyper Casino, Casino Supermarche, Leaderprice, Viva and Spar by the end of the year. The lockers store Amazon products to be picked up by customers.
More Casino-branded products will also be available on Amazon, while Amazon and Monoprix will extend their partnership on Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service outside Paris and into new cities in the next twelve months.
“This announcement represents a new step in strengthening Casino’s omnichannel strategy to always be a little more in the heart of consumers’ lives,” said Casino’s chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri in a statement.
Monoprix, seen by analysts as similar to Whole Foods, started filling orders for subscribers to Amazon’s Prime loyalty program in parts of Paris last September.
This partnership has been closely watched as Monoprix was the first French retailer to agree in March 2018 to sell products via Amazon, causing a stir in the fiercely competitive domestic market.
France is Amazon’s third largest market in Europe, after Britain and Germany. Amazon is the e-commerce leader in France with a market share of 17.3 percent, but its grocery market share stands at just 2 percent, according to Kantar data.
The US group, which has run its Amazon Prime express delivery service in Paris since 2016, has made no secret of its desire to launch a grocery delivery service in France as part of its ambitions to expand in food retail.
But the French supermarket sector has powerful incumbents such as Carrefour and Leclerc, operating at low margins and with a dense network of stores.
Earlier this week, Casino said it would sell 12 Casino hypermarkets and 20 supermarkets to Apollo Global Management in a deal worth up to €470 million ($529 million).