Cheaper oil depresses most of Gulf but MSCI hopes buoy Saudi stocks

MSCI will announce late on Tuesday whether it is adding Saudi Arabia to a list for a possible upgrade to emerging market status; the upgrade, if it happens, would probably not occur before mid-2019. (Reuters)
Updated 18 June 2017
0

Cheaper oil depresses most of Gulf but MSCI hopes buoy Saudi stocks

DUBAI: Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Sunday because of weak oil prices, but hopes that Saudi Arabia will join MSCI’s group of emerging markets, which would trigger billions of dollars of fund inflows, buoyed that market.
MSCI will announce late on Tuesday whether it is adding Saudi Arabia to a list for a possible upgrade to emerging market status; the upgrade, if it happens, would probably not occur before mid-2019.
The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) rose 0.9 percent in thin trade as some stocks expected to be targets of incoming foreign funds rose, with Savola jumping 5 percent to SR48.40 ($12.91), its highest finish since January 2016.
National Commercial Bank (NCB), the biggest lender, was up 2.1 percent while petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) added 2.2 percent.
The Saudi Labor Ministry said it was working to transfer around 8,000 remaining workers at financially troubled construction company Saudi Oger to other firms. A spokesman for Oger could not be reached for comment, while a source close to the company said there was no decision to close it down.
Most Saudi banks are exposed to Oger debt but many have already taken partial provisions for it, while any wind-up process could be prolonged. Bank shares, in general, did not appear to be hurt by the Oger news.
In most other big Gulf markets, however, the mood was glum. Brent oil futures settled at $47.37 a barrel on Friday — not a disastrous level for the Gulf but one which means governments may have less to spend this year than investors hoped just a few weeks ago.
“Oil prices above $50 per barrel are conducive to helping reforms succeed while oil prices below $40a barrel are likely to endanger macro stability,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report last week.
Dubai’s stock index dropped 0.4 percent as Emaar Properties pulled back 0.9 percent.
But Union Properties, the most heavily traded stock, gained 1.8 percent after saying it had entered an agreement with Al-Ramz Capital to provide liquidity for its shares. Al-Ramz is permitted to own up to 5 percent of the company’s shares under the deal.
Qatar, which has been hurt by the sanctions against Doha by other Arab states, dropped 0.8 percent as the biggest bank, Qatar National Bank, lost 2.5 percent.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 53 min 12 sec ago
0

‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.