Qatar market dragged down by No. 2 bank

Traders monitor screens displaying stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange in Doha. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Qatar market dragged down by No. 2 bank

DUBAI: Gulf stock markets were mixed on Wednesday with Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar’s second-largest bank by market value, pulling the Qatari stock index 0.2 percent lower.
Shares in Masraf Al Rayan sank 2.7 percent after the bank reported a 9.6 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit to 466 million riyals, below an average 562.5 million riyal forecast by three analysts polled by Reuters.
Qatar National Bank also missed forecasts with a 5.2 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit to 2.85 billion riyals ($783 million). But the Gulf’s largest lender raised its cash dividend for 2017 to 6 riyals per share and its stock was up 0.7 percent.
Among the gainers, Medicare Group surged 7.0 percent in its heaviest trade since March; it has doubled from its November low.
Saudi Arabia’s index closed 0.1 percent higher at 7,540 points, coming off the day’s high after approaching major technical resistance on last July’s peak of 7,586 points.
Top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries gained 0.8 percent, while Saudi Automotive Services rose 1.0 percent after estimating its annual net profit expanded 15 percent, on an 11 percent gain in sales.
In Dubai, the index rose 0.5 percent as the most heavily traded stock, Union Properties, gained 0.9 percent. Emaar Malls was the top performer, adding 2.2 percent, although trading volume fell from Tuesday’s level, which was the highest since early 2016.


Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

Updated 16 August 2018
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Japan ships fewer cars to US as export growth slows

  • Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month
  • Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent

TOKYO: Japan’s export growth slowed more than expected in July as shipments to the US fell for a second straight month, with the automotive sector down sharply and global trade disputes casting doubts over foreign demand.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Thursday showed exports rose 3.9 percent year-on-year in July, far below a 6.3 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. The rise followed a 6.7 percent year-on-year gain in June.
Japan’s exports to the US fell 5.2 percent year-on-year in July, down for a second straight month, due to a 12.1 percent decline in car shipments.
“The drop in US-bound car exports was in reaction to brisk sales seen there a year ago, boosted by the solid US economy and declines in oil prices,” said an MOF official in charge of compiling the data.
“We cannot say whether it was affected by trade tensions with the US.” US President Donald Trump has made the threat of heavy tariffs a core part of his agenda, with an eye on the US auto sector’s trade deficit with countries such as Germany and Japan, raising speculation about restrictions on US-bound car exports.
Japanese carmakers have so far shown no sign of rushing to boost car shipments to the US, which would happen if they anticipated higher tariffs were to be imposed on their products in coming months.
“While caution is heightening over US trade policy, US car sales are levelling off, causing Japan’s car exports to the US to level off as well,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“If capital outflows from emerging economies accelerate on top of this, it would cause a marked slowdown in global economy, further weighing on Japan’s exports.” Imports from the US rose 11.0 percent in the year to July, led by crude oil, motors and liquefied petroleum gas.
As a result, Japan’s trade surplus with the US fell 22.1 percent year-on-year to ¥502.7 billion ($4.55 billion). Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, rose 11.9 percent in July from a year ago.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 8.0 percent, led by semiconductor production equipment and electronics parts for China and sales of steel to Thailand.
Overall imports rose 14.6 percent in the year to July, roughly matching economists’ median estimate, resulting in a trade deficit of ¥231.2 billion, vastly exceeding the expected ¥50 billion.
Thursday’s trade figures came after gross domestic product (GDP) data last week showed Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, rebounded in the second quarter from a January-March dip.
Analysts say global economic growth is likely to support Japan’s exports, but international trade conflicts are an ever-present risk to Japan’s export-reliant economy.
The impact on the broader economy from higher US tariffs on Japanese automotive exports would be significant, they say.
Japan’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter on the back of household and business spending, recovering from an earlier contraction.