British lawmakers set to vote on Heathrow Airport runway plan

Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport but is now operating at full capacity, and a £14 billion plan to build a third runway faces opposition from local communities and environmentalists. (Reuters)
Updated 25 June 2018
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British lawmakers set to vote on Heathrow Airport runway plan

LONDON: British lawmakers will vote on whether to build a new runway at London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday, potentially paving the way for the airport’s expansion after decades of delays and policy U-turns.
The government is expected to win the vote, although the result could be close on the issue which has split lawmakers regardless of their party lines, with some opposed to the extra noise and air pollution it will bring to London.
Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport but is now operating at full capacity. A £14 billion plan to build a third runway faces opposition from local communities and environmentalists, but its backers say it is needed to enable new trade links and help secure economic growth.
The decision to expand Heathrow follows almost half a century of indecision on how and where to add new airport capacity in densely populated southeast England. If it goes ahead, it will be the first full-length runway built in the London area for 70 years.
Despite the opposition, which saw the resignation of trade minister Greg Hands from the government last Thursday, the vote is expected to pass because the opposition Labour party said this week its MPs will be given free rein to vote with the government.
However, if the Scottish National Party votes against the government, which the BBC reported was a possibility, it could make the outcome close.
Heathrow’s most high-profile opponent, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who once said he would lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the expansion, may be out of Britain on Monday and so not attend the vote in parliament.
Even if lawmakers approve the plan, it could still face a legal challenge from a group of local councils, and last week, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he would join the action against the third runway if parliament voted to approve it.


Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

Updated 19 September 2018
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Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

  • Biggest index drop in Egypt since mid-2016
  • Saudi Arabia outperforms in Gulf

LONDON: Egyptian stocks tumbled to their lowest level this year on Wednesday as retail investors took flight.
A sharp rise in Suez Canal revenues, a major foreign exchange earner for the country, was not enough to quell investors concerns about the strength of the currency.
The main Egyptian stock index lost 3.8 percent which some fund managers blamed on generally negative sentiment toward emerging markets worldwide as well as more local speculation about possible currency devaluation.
“Our channel checks suggest the sell-off in the Egyptian market is local retail and institutions driven, on currency fears and speculation over a further round of devaluation,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, Reuters reported.
“Selling is further intensified as margin calls are triggered and technical support levels break down. The country canceled three consecutive Treasury auctions, citing investors’ unrealistic yield demands.”
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues rose to $502.2 million in August up 6.7 percent from a year earlier according to official data released on Wednesday.
Elsewhere regional stock markets closed mostly lower with the exceptions of Abu Dhabi which edged 0.2 percent higher and Saudi Arabia, the best regional performer, which rose by 1.1 percent.
Saudi stocks are benefiting from the strong oil price which eased slightly yesterday but still hovered just under $79.
OPEC and some other oil producers including Russia will meet in Algeria on Sept. 23 to discuss how to allocate supply increases within their quota framework to offset the loss of oil exports from Iran following the introduction of sanctions by the US.
Those measures will come into force on Nov. 4 and data suggests that buyers are already retreating from Iranian crude purchases.
A key question for the oil price as well as regional stock markets in the weeks ahead will be the extent to which other Gulf oil exporters can compenaste for the loss of Iranian supplies by pumping more.