Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011

Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange headlines the stock index news at the close of trading, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018

Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011

Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011

NEW YORK: The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points Monday as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years. Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks.
Banks fared the worst as bond yields and interest rates nosedived. Health care, technology and industrial companies all took outsize losses and energy companies sank with oil prices.
At its lowest ebb, the Dow was down 1,597 points from Friday’s close. That came during a 15-minute stretch where the 30-stock index lost 700 points and then gained them back.
Market pros have been predicting a pullback for some time, noting that declines of 10 percent or more are common during bull markets. There hasn’t been one in two years, and by many measures stocks had been looking expensive.
“It’s like a kid at a child’s party who, after an afternoon of cake and ice cream, eats one more cookie and that puts them over the edge,” said David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management.
Kelly said the signs of inflation and rising rates are not as bad as they looked, but after the market’s big gains in 2017 and early 2018, stocks were overdue for a drop.
The Dow finished down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6 percent, at 24,345.75.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the benchmark most professional investors and many index funds use, skidded 113.19 points, or 4.1 percent, to 2,648.94. That was its biggest loss since August 2011, when stocks were reeling as investors were fearful about European government debt and the US had its credit downgraded after the debt ceiling impasse.
The Nasdaq composite fell 273.42 points, or 3.8 percent, to 6,967.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks sank 56.18 points, or 3.6 percent, for 1,491.09.
The slump began on Friday as investors worried that creeping signs of higher inflation and interest rates could derail the US economy along with the market’s record-setting rally. Energy companies, banks, and industrial firms are taking some of the worst losses.
The S&P 500 has fallen 7.8 percent since January 26, when it set its latest record high. Investors are worried about evidence of rising inflation in the US Increased inflation might push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly, which could slow down economic growth by making it make it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money. And bond yields haven’t been this high in years. That’s making bonds more appealing to investors compared with stocks.
The stock market has been unusually calm for more than a year. The combination of economic growth in the US and other major economies, low interest rates, and support from central banks meant stocks could keep rising steadily without a lot of bumps along the way. Experts have been warning that that wouldn’t last forever.
As bad as Monday’s drop is, the market saw worse days during the financial crisis. The Dow’s 777-point plunge in September 2008 was equivalent to 7 percent, far bigger than Monday’s decline.
Stocks hadn’t suffered a 5 percent drop since the two days after Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. They recovered those losses within days.
The last 10 percent drop for markets came in early 2016, when oil prices were plunging as investors worried about a drop in global growth, which could have sharply reduced demand. US crude hit a low of about $26 a barrel in February of that year. A drop of 10 percent from a peak is referred to on Wall Street as a “correction.”
Banks had some of the biggest losses on the market Monday. Wells Fargo sank $5.91, or 9.2 percent, to $58.16. Late Friday the Fed said it will freeze Wells Fargo’s assets at the level where they stood at the end of last year until it can demonstrate improved internal controls. The San Francisco bank also agreed to remove four directors from its board.
Benchmark US crude oil fell $1.30, or 2 percent, to $64.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, lost 96 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $67.62 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline lost 3 cents to $1.85 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $2.02 a gallon. Natural gas sank 10 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Bond prices jumped after a steep decline on Friday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.71 percent from 2.84 percent. That hurt banks by sending interest rates lower, which means banks can’t charge as much money for mortgages and other types of loans.
The dollar fell to 109.70 yen from 110.28 yen. The euro slipped to $1.2399 from $1.2451.
Gold declined 80 cents to $1,336.50 an ounce. Silver dipped 4 cents to $16.67 an ounce. Copper rose 3 cents to $3.22 a pound.
Stocks in Europe also fell. Leading political parties in Germany, which is the largest economy in Europe, have struggled to form a government. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats are still in talks about extending their alliance of the past four years.
Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 1.5 percent while France’s CAC 40 slid 1.5 percent. The DAX in Germany shed 0.8 percent.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 tumbled 2.6 percent and the South Korean Kospi shed 1.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 1.1 percent.


LNG shipments from Qatar to UAE to resume, signaling improving ties

LNG shipments from Qatar to UAE to resume, signaling improving ties
Updated 54 min 52 sec ago

LNG shipments from Qatar to UAE to resume, signaling improving ties

LNG shipments from Qatar to UAE to resume, signaling improving ties
  • Qatar has also resumed monthly exports of condensate to the UAE

DUBAI: A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker that loaded cargo from Qatar is signaling the UAE as its destination, the first such shipment since mid-2017, reflecting improving ties between the countries.
LNG tankers sometimes change destination, but if the shipment is completed, this would be the first time a Qatari LNG cargo has been shipped to the UAE since May 2017, ship-tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon and data intelligence firm Kpler showed.
The UAE and other countries in the region severed relations with Qatar in mid-2017 over accusations that Doha supports terrorism, a charge that it denies.
But the UAE re-opened all its land, sea and air entry points with Qatar this year after Saudi Arabia announced a breakthrough in ending a dispute between Gulf Arab states and Qatar at a summit. Before the dispute, Qatar was a regular exporter of LNG to the UAE during the summer, when demand for power generation increases. read more
The tanker, Al Ghariya, loaded a cargo from Ras Laffan on May 10 and is at anchor but is showing that it is due to discharge the cargo in Jebel Ali, in the UAE, on May 13, data showed on Wednesday.
Another LNG tanker, Al Gattara, which had loaded from Ras Laffan on May 5 had also initially signaled Jebel Ali as its destination but diverted to Asia, Kpler analyst Rebecca Chia said.
Both tankers are on long-term charter to Qatargas, she added.
Qatar has also resumed monthly exports of condensate to the UAE since February, shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.
Qatari condensate exports to the UAE jumped to 1.7 million barrels in April, up from 287,000 barrels in February, the data showed.


Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook
Updated 12 May 2021

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook
  • US crude oil stocks fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to May 7

MELBOURNE: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, extending overnight gains, after industry data showed a drop in US crude inventories, which reinforced OPEC’s robust demand outlook, and as the shutdown of the biggest US fuel pipeline headed into a sixth day.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $65.49 a barrel at 0013 GMT, adding to a 36 cent rise on Tuesday.
Brent crude futures climbed 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $68.70 a barrel, adding to a 23 cent gain on Tuesday.
“Crude oil gained as investors continue to bet on a bright outlook for demand. A weak US dollar also lent support,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group showed US crude oil stocks fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to May 7, according to two market sources.
The drop was slightly less than expected. Eight analysts polled by Reuters had estimated, on average, that crude stocks fell by 2.8 million barrels.
The drawdown came before the Colonial Pipeline was hit by a cyberattack last Friday which forced the pipeline, which transports more than 2.5 million barrels a day of fuel, to shut down. The operator said it hopes to restart a large portion of the network by the end of the week.
In the meantime, the market remained on edge, as gasoline stations from Florida to Virginia began running out of fuel on Tuesday as drivers rushed to top up their tanks and pump prices rocketed.
US unleaded gasoline prices hit an average $2.99 a gallon, the highest since November 2014, the American Automobile Association said.
Oil prices were also supported by the latest outlook from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which stuck to a forecast for a strong recovery in world oil demand in 2021 with growth in China and the United States outweighing the impact of the coronavirus crisis in India.
OPEC said it expects demand to rise by 5.95 million bpd this year, unchanged from its forecast last month. However, it cut its demand outlook for the second quarter by 300,000 bpd due to soaring COVID-19 infections in India.
“India is currently facing severe COVID-19-related challenges and will therefore face a negative impact on its recovery in the second quarter, but it is expected to continue improving its momentum again in the second half of 2021,” OPEC said in its monthly report.


American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors
Updated 12 May 2021

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors
  • Brands including Swedish retailer H&M, Adidas and Nike have been targeted by demands online for consumer boycotts

BEIJING: An American business group warned Tuesday that government-instigated consumer boycotts of foreign shoe, clothing and other brands in China are making companies less willing to invest.

That is adding to anxiety over Beijing’s plan for a list of “unreliable entities” that might be punished for actions deemed to run counter to Chinese interests, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in an annual report on business conditions.

The report reflects growing unease among American and other foreign companies about the impact of economic and strategic tensions between Beijing and their home countries.

Brands including Swedish retailer H&M, Adidas and Nike have been targeted by demands online for consumer boycotts. That came after state media criticized them for expressing concern about reports of possible forced labor by ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region of China’s northwest.

FASTFACT

The report reflects growing unease among American and other foreign companies about the impact of economic and strategic tensions between Beijing and their home countries.

The American Chamber said 78 percent of companies that responded to its survey cited “rising tensions” between Beijing and Washington as their top concern.

Beijing announced plans for its “unreliable entities” list in 2019 after then-President Donald Trump blocked access to US components and technology for Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Ltd. Officials have yet to say which companies might be on the list or disclose the criteria for being included.

Concern about the list is “aggravated by consumer boycotts instigated by official organizations and through Chinese media,” the Chamber said. It said one in five companies expressed concern, while 7 percent said it was decreasing their willingness to invest.

Despite that, half the companies surveyed said China’s investment environment is improving, while 38 percent said it stayed the same. The Chamber said only 12 percent reported conditions had deteriorated, the lowest level since 2015.

The Chamber noted that 27 percent of information and computer technology companies said investment conditions were deteriorating, the highest level of any industry. That finding comes at a time when the ruling Communist Party is using subsidies, market barriers and informal pressure on companies to try to develop its own high-tech industries.

 


Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia
Updated 12 May 2021

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia
  • The survey found that 94 percent of respondents are comfortable with digital payment systems such as biometrics, digital wallets and QR codes

RIYADH: Statistics released this week have highlighted the massive surge in the uptake of digital payments in the Kingdom, especially in light of pandemic restrictions on shopping and travel.

According to monthly data issued by the Saudi Central Bank, there were 25.84 million online sales transactions through the Mada system in March. The total value of sales during the month was SR 5.31 billion ($1.4 billion), a year-on-year increase of 196 percent.

The Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat) also reported that the e-commerce sector received an investment of around SR 250 million during the first quarter of 2021, according to an article by the Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

With shoppers having few alternatives when it comes to getting basic necessities, it is no surprise that the first-ever Mastercard New Payments Index for the Kingdom found widespread acceptance of digital payments among Saudi consumers.

The survey found that 94 percent of respondents are comfortable with digital payment systems such as biometrics, digital wallets and QR codes.

A year into the pandemic, research from Mastercard showed that the adoption of new payment technologies is rising and consumer appetite for it growing fast.

According to the index, 68 percent of respondents tried a new payment method they would not have tried under normal circumstances.

In addition, 92 percent of Saudi consumers said they have access to more ways to pay compared to this time last year.

Three-quarters of respondents said digital payment methods help them save money, while the same amount also said they are more loyal to retailers who offer multiple payment options. Sixty-nine percent of Saudi consumers said using biometrics to verify purchases made them feel safer.

“More than ever, consumers in Saudi Arabia are adapting and embracing payment innovations. Businesses, both big and small, must respond to this evolving trend. We are closely working with our partners and retailers to deliver secure and diverse payment technologies for the omnichannel generation,” J.K Khalil, country manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Levant at Mastercard, said in a press statement.


Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst
Updated 12 May 2021

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst
  • The support for the housing sector will help the government achieve one of its core Vision 2030 goals to reach 70 percent homeownership by the end of the decade

RIYADH: The Saudi government’s recent announcements in the real estate sector, including providing more than 53,000 new homes in Riyadh and relaxing the ban on ownership by non-Saudis in Makkah and Madinah, will help to overhaul the sector and reach the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 home ownerships goals, according to an industry figure.

“The announcement of the allocation of 20 million square meters of land in the northern Riyadh suburb of Al-Jawan, effectively trebling the size of this neighborhood, to housing developments will certainly aid the government’s home ownership targets,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank, told Arab News.

He added that the announcement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “follows the December announcement by Roshn to develop 30,000 residential units in Riyadh — 4,000 in the first phase — as part of a national program to deliver 1 million new homes by 2030.”

The move is also in line with the city’s aim to become one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world and to increase its population from 15 to 20 million by 2030.

The support for the housing sector will also help the government achieve one of its core Vision 2030 goals to reach 70 percent homeownership by the end of the decade, up from 47 percent four years ago and around 60 percent at present.

The decision late last week to allow companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange to own properties in Makkah and Madinah was also seen as a major move by the government to encourage foreign investment and to permit non-Saudi investor ownership in the prime markets.

“Opening ownership in Makkah and Madinah to international companies is a clear indication of the direction of travel of the Saudi economy and is perfectly aligned with Vision 2030,” Durrani said, adding: “The landmark change is likely to pave the way for a boost in demand for commercial real estate over the medium to long-term, as businesses are drawn to the emerging economic opportunities.”

Such moves by the government are likely to be a catalyst for a post-pandemic rebound in the Kingdom’s real estate sector, which are already up 25 percent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in Riyadh during the first quarter of this year, and 34 percent Y-o-Y in Jeddah and 11 percent Y-o-Y in the Dammam Metropolitan Area.