Trade war rumbles hit emerging stocks sending Indian rupee to record low

An Indian cycle rickshaw driver waits for customers next to a busy road in New Delhi. Facing a widening emerging market selloff, India’s rupee plumbed a fresh record low, with nationwide protests adding to the pressure. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Trade war rumbles hit emerging stocks sending Indian rupee to record low

  • MSCI’s emerging market equity index slipped as much as 1 percent to hit its weakest level since July 2017
  • Markets in Asia chalked up hefty losses after US President Donald Trump warned on Friday he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports to the US

LONDON: Fears over a rapid escalation of trade wars hit emerging markets on Monday, sending stocks to a fresh 2018 low and hurting major currencies with India’s rupee tumbling to record lows and Russia’s rouble at its weakest in two years.
MSCI’s emerging market equity index slipped as much as 1 percent to hit its weakest level since July 2017 with markets in Asia chalking up hefty losses after US President Donald Trump warned on Friday he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports to the US.
Beijing warned it would retaliate.
Chinese mainland stocks ended as much as 1.5 percent lower with shares in suppliers to Apple dropping after Trump tweeted on Saturday that Apple should make products in the US if it wanted to avoid tariffs on Chinese imports.
Bourses in export heavyweights such as Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as India’s BSE index nearly matched those declines.
Emerging currencies painted a similar downbeat picture, with the EM currency index falling around 0.5 percent and edging back toward a 17 month low hit last week.
“Emerging economies have borne the brunt of the market stress since the start of the year,” Didier Saint-Georges, managing director at French asset manager Carmignac wrote in a note to clients.
“In drying up the global flow of dollars, the Fed has weakened the entire EM asset class and literally wrecked those countries most reliant on dollar financing. The trade standoff initiated by the Trump administration thus amounts to a double whammy, with contagion doing the rest of the damage.”
Facing a widening emerging market selloff, India’s rupee plumbed a fresh record low, with nationwide protests adding to the pressure while an official at the country’s finance ministry pledged the government would take measure to stem the slide in the currency.
With a general election less than nine months away, demonstrations against record high petrol and diesel prices shut down businesses, government offices and schools in many parts of India while in some places protesters blocked trains and roads and vandalized vehicles.
Russia’s rouble weakened beyond 70 versus the dollar for the first time since March 2016 before recovering its losses, buckling under pressure from uncertainty about US sanctions and concern ahead of a central bank meeting on Friday.
Governor Elvira Nabiullina said rates could stay on hold or go higher. But Kremlin economic aide Andrei Belousov said a rate increase would be “highly undesirable,” echoing comments by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who stated late last week that lending rates should be lower.


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

  • The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios
  • SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year

RIYADH: Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. (SRC), modelled on US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, aims to issue up to 4 billion riyals ($1.07 billion) of long-term sukuk this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the Kingdom’s secondary mortgage market.

SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview.

“Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said. “We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... 2 and 4 billion riyal that we may be issuing in two tranches.

He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said.

He said the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.

In March, SRC completed a 750 million riyal sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to 11 billion riyals of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.

“The rule of the game for us is, like many projects across the Kingdom, attract liquidity from foreign investors,” Susini said.

He said SRC had spent 1.2 billion riyals from its balance sheet buying mortgages from local mortgage financing companies and provided liquidity to these firms.

It has also signed initial accords with several commercial banks to acquire housing mortgage portfolios.

Saudi Arabia’s housing ministry is targeting the mortgage market to reach a total value of 502 billion riyals by 2020 from around 300 billion riyals now.

The government wants to increase activity in the real estate market as it moves to revitalize the economy and is taking steps to reform the sector as part of its 2030 reform plan.

It has been working with developers and local banks to counter a shortage of affordable housing — one of the country’s biggest social and economic problems. Saudi Arabia wants 60 percent of its nationals to own homes by 2020, up from 47 percent in 2016.

The size of real estate financing relative to its gross domestic product is 5 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to 69 percent in the United States, 74 percent in the United Kingdom and 43 pct in Canada, the housing ministry has said.

“The goal of SRC in this market was to make sure that we will be able to refinance at least around 10 percent of the market in 2020, and 20 percent of the market by 2028,” Susini told Reuters.