Germany’s GDP growth outlook hit by euro crisis, US-EU trade conflict

Ifo said the economic upswing in Germany should continue but at a slower pace, echoing an assessment by the Bundesbank last week. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Germany’s GDP growth outlook hit by euro crisis, US-EU trade conflict

ERLIN: Germany’s Ifo institute on Tuesday cut its forecasts for growth in Europe’s biggest economy this year and next, citing a weak start to the year and increased global risks.
Ifo said it expected the German economy to grow by 1.8 percent this year and in 2019, a big revision downwards from previous forecasts of 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
“The economy developed significantly more weakly than anticipated in the first few months of the year,” Ifo economist Timo Wollmershaeuser said. “The global economic risks have risen significantly,” he added.
Ifo said the economic upswing in Germany should continue but at a slower pace, echoing an assessment by the Bundesbank last week.
In addition to weak industrial activity and exports in the first four months of the year, a trade dispute between the United States and the European Union is clouding the outlook for the German economy. US President Donald Trump is threatening to impose hefty tariffs on car imports from European allies in addition to unilateral metals duties.
The Bundesbank said on Monday that German growth should rebound in the second quarter thanks to higher state spending, a humming construction sector and strong private consumption.
But it warned that trade and political concerns have made the outlook for the economy more uncertain and revised down its own growth projections.
A new Italian coalition government that comprises anti-establishment parties with a brief to shake up EU institutions has also unnerved German companies.
“The downside risks for the German economy have significantly risen,” said Ifo’s Wollmershaeuser. “Germany’s economic advantages are far outweighed by two risks — euro crisis 2.0 through Italy and a trade war.”
As well as the US-EU trade dispute, German business leaders are worried that a trade confrontation between the United States and China could harm exporters that rely on the world’s two largest economies for growth.
China has raised tariffs on $50 billion in US goods, responding to similar measures by Trump, who has also threatened a 10-percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
“The likelihood that we have a trade war that also affects Germany is higher now than it was in spring,” said Wollmershaeuser.


Global exchange funds eye Saudi Arabian equities

Updated 20 March 2019
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Global exchange funds eye Saudi Arabian equities

  • It comes as the country joins the FTSE Russell emerging markets index
  • Index provider MSCI is also adding Saudi stocks to its own emerging markets index

LONDON: Global exchange-traded funds are building cash piles to place in Saudi Arabian equities, according to a ranking compiled by Bloomberg.
It comes as the country joins the FTSE Russell emerging markets index, which is expected to attract billions of dollars in foreign fund inflows.
“We believe Saudi’s inclusion in the FTSE Russell EM Index will have a significantly positive impact on stock markets, Salah Shamma, the regional head of investment at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, told Arab News.
“With an estimated $115 billion benchmarked against the FTSE Russell EM Index, the Kingdom could constitute approximately 2.5 percent of the gauge, resulting in passive fund flows of about $3 billion,” he said.
A London-based exchange- traded fund (ETF) and another fund that trades in New York have together attracted around $327 million in new money since the beginning of January, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The net flow as a percentage of assets for Saudi Arabia funds increased by about 48 percent this year.
FTSE Russell started to include Saudi stocks this week — the first of a five-stage process that will be fully implemented by March 2020.
Index provider MSCI is also adding Saudi stocks to its own emerging markets index.
Positions on the Saudi market through funds based abroad have delivered a return of about
12 percent each since the start of the year, compared with a gain of 10 percent for the Tadawul All Share Index, according to Bloomberg data.
Franklin Templeton’s Shamma believes the inclusion of Saudi equities in the two gauges will help to bring the wider region into the mainstream of emerging market investment.
“The fundamentals of the Saudi economy are strong, and we remain encouraged by the country’s progress in reducing its reliance on hydrocarbon revenues as well as the ambitious reform agenda that is underway there,” he said.
Listed companies in the Kingdom could see holdings by foreign investors rise to 10 percent when their shares are included in index providers MSCI and FTSE’s emerging-market indices, the chief executive of Tadawul told Reuters on Monday.
Saudi Arabia this week joined the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index with a weighting of 2.9 percent.
Khalid Al-Hussan told Reuters that he expected equities on Tadawul to attract $5 billion of passive fund inflows after the FTSE Russell inclusion. Foreign investors currently hold about 5.9 percent of Saudi shares.