Top bank boosts Egypt, Gulf falls in thin trade

The Egyptian index rose 1.3 percent as Commercial International Bank gained 1.9 percent. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 02 January 2019

Top bank boosts Egypt, Gulf falls in thin trade

  • The Egyptian index rose 1.3 percent as Commercial International Bank gained 1.9 percent

Egypt’s blue-chip stock index rose sharply on Wednesday, boosted by its biggest bank, while all major Gulf markets were weak, with some investors away on year-end holidays.

The Egyptian index rose 1.3 percent as Commercial International Bank gained 1.9 percent.

Real estate firm Talaat Mostafa rose 3.2 percent after saying its sales last year reached 21.3 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.2 billion), up from 13.1 billion pounds a year earlier.

Orascom Development climbed 4.4 percent. It has been strong since announcing at the end of last week that it had sold some hotels, which would help reduce its debt.

In Dubai — which fell 25 percent in 2018, the world’s worst-performing major stock market in local currency terms — the index was down 0.4 percent. Courier firm Aramex dropped 4.4 percent in its biggest one-day loss since December 2017.

Dubai’s largest listed developer, Emaar Properties , shed 1.2 percent. The Saudi Arabian index edged down 0.1 percent with Samba Financial slipping 0.8 percent and Saudi International Petrochemical Co. (Sipchem) dropping 2.7 percent.

Qatar’s index — one of the world’s best performing markets last year with a 21 percent gain — dropped 0.2 percent with Industries Qatar falling 1.6 percent and Qatar National Bank slipping 1.1 percent. However, Mesaieed Petrochemical jumped by its 10 percent daily limit. It said major shareholder Qatar Petroleum had finished distributing a tranche of free incentive shares to investors, which may improve liquidity in the stock.

Real estate firm United Development Co. gained 1.7 percent after saying it had sold its stake in Seef Ltd. to Qatar Petroleum for 214.4 million riyals ($59 million).

SAUDI The index edged down ARABIA 0.1 pct to 7,791 points DUBAI The index lost 0.4 pct to 2,521 points QATAR The index fell 0.2 pct to 10,280 points ABU DHABI The index fell 1 pct to 4,867 points EGYPT The index rose 1.3 pct to 13,204 points KUWAIT The index was up 0.7 pct at 5,305 points OMAN The index fell 0.7 pct to 4,302 points BAHRAIN The index dropped 0.6 pct to 1,329 points (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Susan Fenton)

World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019

World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

  • Delegates to annual forum to include presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan

DUBAI: World leaders are preparing to head to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, amid the riskiest global backdrop in years, according to a report from the event organizer itself.

As the WEF announced the names of some of the 3,000 participants set to attend the meeting and details of the four-day agenda, it also published a gloomy outlook on international politics, economics, the environment and technology. 

Rising geopolitical and geo-economic tensions are the most urgent risks in 2019, with 90 percent of experts surveyed expecting further economic confrontation between major powers, according to the WEF’s annual Global Risks Report.

“The world’s ability to foster collective action in the face of urgent major crises has reached crisis levels, with worsening international relations hindering action across a growing array of serious challenges. Meanwhile, a darkening economic outlook, in part caused by geopolitical tensions, looks set to further reduce the potential for international cooperation in 2019,” it added.

Although political and economic worries were top of the immediate agenda for the 1,000 experts polled by the WEF, the environment and climate change are also a cause for concern, as are “rapidly evolving” cyber and technological threats, the WEF said.

Børge Brende, the WEF president, said: “With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation. We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us toward. What we need now is coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the grave threats facing our world today.”

The leaders who will begin to arrive in Switzerland in the next week include Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan; Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; and Wang Qishan, vice president of China.

With US President Donald Trump pulling out of the meeting to deal with the partial government shutdown, the American delegation is expected to be led by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The Middle East is well represented at the meeting, with at least nine heads of state or government from the region, including Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia will be represented by a team of senior policymakers and business leaders.

The risk report will give them all food for thought in the Alpine resort.

Asking whether the world is “sleepwalking into a crisis,” the report responded: “Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centered politics continued throughout 2018.

“The idea of ‘taking back control’ — whether domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral or supranational organizations — resonates across many countries and many issues.”

Macro-economic risks have moved into sharper focus, it said. 

“Financial market volatility increased and the headwinds facing the global economy intensified. The rate of global growth appears to have peaked,” the report said, pointing to a slowdown in growth forecasts for China as well as high levels of global debt — at 225 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), significantly higher than before the financial crisis 10 years ago.

Raising the prospect of a “climate catastrophe,” the report said extreme weather, which many experts attribute to rapid climate change, was a risk of great concern. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear,’ the WEF said.

Of the 3,000 participants at Davos, which runs from Jan. 22 to 25, around 78 percent are men, with an average age of 54. 

The oldest will be the 92-year-old British broadcaster David Attenborough, the youngest 16-year-old South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker.