Egyptian pound appreciates to highest in over two years

A man counts Egyptian pounds outside a bank in Cairo, Egypt October 24, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Egyptian pound appreciates to highest in over two years

  • The currency was trading at 17.34 to the dollar on Sunday, up more than three percent from 17.86 on Jan. 22 when it began its latest round of strengthening
  • “You’re seeing most of the indicators improving,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital

CAIRO: The Egyptian pound strengthened on Sunday to its highest in over two years, boosted by an increase in foreign funds into the country.
The currency was trading at 17.34 to the dollar on Sunday, up more than three percent from 17.86 on Jan. 22 when it began its latest round of strengthening.
“You’re seeing most of the indicators improving,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital. “Tourism, exports, substitution of natural gas imports with domestic production, remittances are at a peak, FDI is improving slightly.”
He also said the higher inflows were due in large part to Egypt scrapping a mechanism that guaranteed foreign currency for investors exiting the government securities market.
“Once the repatriation mechanism was abolished, it meant that every single inflow coming into the country reflects directly on interbank liquidity,” he said. “This, in tandem, should also reflect directly on EGP volatility against the dollar.”
“I think it has come a bit late. If the repatriation mechanism had been removed a year ago, this appreciation would have happened a year ago,” he said.
Since the central bank devalued the currency by about half in 2016, economists say it has closely controlled the value of the pound, which was last this strong in March 2017.
Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem Brokerage, said the higher inflows were also due to increased carry trade appetite for Egyptian treasury securities and improving balance of payments.
“We have now restarted LNG exports,” Sandeep said. “On an annual basis, assuming that we export 1 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas every day, that adds more than $2 billion in exports per year.”
Egypt, which now exports 1.1 bcf of natural gas per day, became a net exporter in late 2018, a significant turnaround for a country that spent about $3 billion on annual LNG imports as recently as 2016.


Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

Updated 20 May 2019
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Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

  • ‘It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries take these steps’
  • Kuwait was in ‘constant contact’ with its ally, the US

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.
“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.
“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”
Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline — the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.
Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.
The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.
Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.
He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.
On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.
The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30.
Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.