Brexit: Gulf investors concerned over market moves

MARKET WATCH: The six GCC states have large interests in the British real estate market.
Updated 27 June 2016
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Brexit: Gulf investors concerned over market moves

JEDDAH: Stock markets in Gulf states including Saudi Arabia dropped Sunday in the first trading session after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
As GCC markets reacted negatively to the so-called Brexit, regional analysts, quoted by local media, said that the Brexit result could provide a golden opportunity for the Gulf investors to seek positive returns from the British market, especially in light of the sharp decline in the value of the British pound.
These analysts expect the gains for Gulf investors from the Brexit to be greater than the losses — especially real estate.
Analysts, however, suggested that Gulf investors should wait a little longer until the picture becomes more clear about the ramifications of Friday’s landmark verdict.
Ihsan Bu-Hulaiga, an economist, commented that Brexit came at an inappropriate time for Gulf countries, who are suffering from a decline in oil revenues and are searching for alternatives.
On Sunday, Saudi stocks fell 4.1 percent at the opening but recovered to close down just 1.1 percent. All 15 sectors were in negative territory.
“Investors are very concerned now over what will happen next,” Basil Al-Ghalayini, CEO of BMG Financial Group, told Arab News.
“This uncertainty will drive prices down. Unfortunately, we will go through this turbulent phase for a while until a new prime minister is found to replace David Cameron,” he told Arab News.
James Reeve, deputy chief economist and assistant general manager at Samba Financial Group, commented: "The main risk to Saudi Arabia is oil prices. The European Central Bank is likely to keep interest rates lower for longer. This will likely mean a stronger US dollar, which is negative for commodities including oil.”
The Tadawul All-Share Index closed at 6,479 points but bounced from an intra-day low of 6,257 points. Petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries Corp. fell 1.5 percent and National Commercial Bank was down 1.3 percent.
But Arabian Pipes, which soared last week after winning a contract from Saudi Aramco, jumped its 10 percent daily limit for a fourth straight day. Saudi Electricity Co., seen as a defensive stock, rose 1.6 percent.
On the Saudi exchange, 356 million shares were exchanged, 67 percent more than the 20-day average.
Out of the Tadawul’s 172 index members, 149 fell.
John Sfakianakis, director of economics research at the Gulf Research Center, commented: “There is limited impact between Saudi Arabia and the UK financial system and any impact will depend on secondary effects at a global level.”

He added: “There is a certain degree of risk-aversion over the short term. Over the medium term, investor confidence would be impacted by oil prices and the direction and confidence of global economic growth.”
Sfakianakis said: “Emerging market debt could see an uptick as liquidity takes priority over the short term. Fundamentals will drive economic growth over time. There is limited impact between Saudi Arabia and the UK financial system and any impact will depend on secondary effects at a global level.”
Speaking to Arab News, a regional analyst said: “The main challenge for now is the uncertainty (as always!!). Everyone knows that this will have implications but it is too early to tell how, how soon, and in what ways. Markets always overreact to uncertainty.”
He added: “I agree that the exposure of Saudi listed companies to the UK is probably likely to be fairly limited. However, many will have relationships with UK-based banks and affected by the volatility of the pound as well as many questions marks about the future of banking regulation in the country.” 
The analyst said: “For Saudi investors, a weaker pound represents a short-term opportunity, albeit into a market that now looks far less clear and predictable. For Saudi exporters, a weaker pound means a tougher market, whereas the competitiveness of UK products will increase.”
He added: “Strategically speaking, companies that had used  the UK as a global hub or a springboard for the UK market, the future suddenly looks far murkier.”
The analyst also said: “While the real economic impact on Saudi Arabia will likely be modest, the uncertainty in the UK, and its global implications will now potentially rumble on for a fairly long time.”
All seven GCC stock markets were closed on Friday when the result of the British referendum was announced.
The Dubai Financial Market began the day by sliding 5.0 percent, but the index — the Gulf bourse most exposed to international markets — finished the day down 3.25 percent.
At one stage, investment companies fell 8.0 percent and real estate dropped 5.0 percent.
The Qatar Exchange fell 1.25 percent, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange dropped 1.85 percent and the Kuwait Stock Exchange closed 1.1 percent lower.
The bourses of Oman and Bahrain ended the day down 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.
The six GCC states have large interests in the British real estate market and thousands of Gulf citizens own homes in Britain.
Britain also has sizable real estate interests in Dubai and more than a million British tourists visit the UAE annually.


German industry groups warn US on tariffs before Trump-Juncker meeting

Updated 22 July 2018
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German industry groups warn US on tariffs before Trump-Juncker meeting

  • Washington imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico on June 1
  • Trump is threatening to extend them to EU cars and car parts

BERLIN: German industry groups warned on Sunday, before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meets US President Donald Trump this week, that tariffs the United States has imposed or is threatening to introduce risk harming America itself.
Citing national security grounds, Washington imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico on June 1 and Trump is threatening to extend them to EU cars and car parts. Juncker will discuss trade with Trump at a meeting on Wednesday.
“The tariffs under the guise of national security should be abolished,” Dieter Kempf, head of Germany’s BDI industry association said. Juncker should tell Trump that the United States would harm itself with tariffs on cars and car parts, he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
The German auto industry employed more than 118,000 people in the United States and 60 percent of what they produced was exported. “Europe should not let itself be blackmailed and should put in a confident appearance in the United States,” he added.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday he hoped it was still possible to find a solution that was attractive to both sides. “For us, that means we stand by open markets and low tariffs,” he said
He said the possibility of US tariffs on EU cars was very serious and stressed that reductions in international tariffs in the last 40 years and the opening of markets had resulted in major benefits for citizens.
EU officials have tried to lower expectations about what Juncker can achieve, and played down suggestions that he will arrive in Washington with a novel plan to restore good relations.
Altmaier said it was difficult to estimate the impact of any US car tariffs on the German economy, but added: “Tariffs on aluminum and steel had a volume of just over six billion euros. In this case we would be talking about almost ten times that.”
He said he hoped job losses could be avoided but noted that trade between Europe and the United States made up around one third of total global trade.
“You can imagine that if we go down with a cold in the German-American or European-American relationship, many others around us will get pneumonia so it’s highly risky and that’s why we need to end this conflict as quickly as possible.”
Eric Schweitzer, president of the DIHK Chambers of Commerce, told Welt am Sonntag the German economy had for decades counted on open markets and a reliable global trading system but added: “Every day German companies feel the transatlantic rift getting wider.”