India, robotics and space on the agenda at Dubai World Government Summit

India, robotics and space on the agenda at Dubai World Government Summit
Updated 11 February 2018

India, robotics and space on the agenda at Dubai World Government Summit

India, robotics and space on the agenda at Dubai World Government Summit

DUBAI: Relations between India and the Arabian Gulf will figure prominently when 4,000 leaders from the worlds of business, politics and Hollywood celebrity descend on Dubai on Sunday for the formal opening of the 2018 World Government Summit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, which has been named guest country this year, will deliver the inaugural address on day one of the three day event, in a line up that also features the themes of artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel, which are among the UAE’s man policy priorities.
Mohamed Al-Gergawi, the UAE’s minister for cabinet affairs and the future, who will open the event alongside Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, said the summit — now in its sixth year — “has become a permanent knowledge event available to all governments and their activities throughout the year. Through the summit, we seek to create new models for economic co-operation.”
More than 120 sessions will focus on the theme of the 2018 summit, “Shaping future governments.”
A special section of the event, entitled “From India to the world,” will discuss the country’s development in technology, innovation and services, highlighting India’s advances in health care and education.
Leaders of Indian business and public policy will address the question “Will India lead the global economy of the future?”
The UAE has the largest number of Indian immigrants and guest workers in the world.
In addition to the high-level policymakers at the event, Hollywood stars Robert De Niro and Forrest Whittaker will also lead panels on climate change and gender issues.
Some of the attendees gathered yesterday (Sat) for a series of informal sessions on the theme of “Happiness”, which the UAE has identified as the main aim of its public policy.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, will speak on the subject of “using the global recovery to create a fairer world,” but is also likely to discuss the recent turbulence in global financial markets. She warned in January — before the share price falls of last week — that there were still threats to the stability of the world financial system.
Adena Friedman, president and chief executive of the New York based Nasdaq stock exchange, will offer her opinions on “how to tame a volatile market.”
From Saudi Arabia, Bandar Hajjjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank, will participate in a discussion with other leading figures from the world of developmental finance on the theme “catalizing regional development.”
Sultan bin Suleyam, chairman of global ports business DP World, will be questioned on the issue of “smart trade, transport and logistics solutions.”
Four global awards have also been organized to coincide with the summit. The winners of the GovTech Prize, Best Minister Award, Edge of Government Innovation Award and Global Universities Challenge Award will all be announced at the event.


Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles

Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles
Updated 32 min 45 sec ago

Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles

Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles
NEW YORK: A shakeup in stocks accelerated by the past week’s surge in Treasury yields has investors weighing how far a recent leadership rotation in the US equity market can run, and its implications for the broader S&P 500 index.
Moves this week further spurred a shift that has seen months-long outperformance for energy, financial and other shares expected to benefit from an economic recovery, while a climb in Treasury yields weighed on the technology stocks that have led markets higher for years.
The two-track market left the benchmark S&P 500 down for the week, and sparked questions about whether it could sustain gains going forward if the tech and growth stocks that account for the biggest weights in the index struggle.
So far this year, the S&P 500, which gives more influence to stocks with larger market values, is up 1.5 percent, while a version of the index that weights stocks equally is up 5 percent.
“That just tells us the gains are less narrow, more companies are participating, and I think that’s healthy,” said James Ragan, director of wealth management research at D.A. Davidson.
The focus on market leadership comes as investors are weighing whether the S&P 500 is due for a significant pullback after a 70 percent run since March, with the rise in long-dormant yields the latest sign of trouble for equities as it means bonds are more serious investment competition. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note this week jumped to a one-year peak of 1.6 percent before pulling back.
Economic improvement will be in focus in the coming weeks, including the monthly US jobs report due next Friday, as will the country’s ability to ensure widespread coronavirus vaccinations, especially as new variants emerge.
Tech and momentum stocks helped drive returns in 2020 “when everyone was locked down and all they had was their computer,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management. “Now it seems with the vaccines, the stimulus and the prospect of reopening that we are looking out toward a recovery phase.”
The shift in the market this week is building on one that was fueled in early November, when Pfizer’s breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine news generated broad bets on an economic rebound in 2021.
Among the moves since that point: the S&P 500 financial and energy sectors are up 29 percent and 65 percent, respectively, against a nearly 9% rise for the benchmark index and 7 percent rise for the tech sector. The Russell 1000 value index has gained 16.5 percent against a 4.3 percent climb for its growth counterpart, while the smallcap Russell 2000 is up 34 percent.
“You definitely are seeing the reopening trade that has pretty much come alive here,” said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager of Hodges Capital Management.
Despite the gains, there remains “plenty of room for the reflation trade to run from a valuation perspective,” Lori Calvasina, head of US equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said in a report this week. RBC is “overweight” the financials, materials and energy sectors.
Rising rates tend to be favorable for more cyclical sectors, David Lefkowitz, head of Americas equities at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note, with financials, energy, industrials and materials showing the strongest positive correlations among sectors with 10-year Treasury yields.
Still, how long the market’s reopening trade lasts remains to be seen. Investors may be reluctant to stray from tech and growth stocks, especially with many of the companies expected to put up strong profits for years.
Any setbacks with the economy or with efforts to quell the coronavirus could revive the stay-at-home stocks that thrived for most of 2020.
And with a GameStop-fueled retail-trading frenzy taking hold this year, banks and other stocks in the reopening trade may fail to draw the same attention from amateur investors as stocks such as Tesla, said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.
“There isn’t the pizzazz to those stocks,” Meckler said. “There rarely is a potential for stocks to make the kind of moves that big tech growth stocks have made.”

IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies

IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies
Updated 37 min 31 sec ago

IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies

IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies
  • The IMF said in statement that monetary policy should focus on inflation by steering short term interest rates, while preserving exchange rate flexibility

TUNIS: The International Monetary Fund urged Tunisia on Friday to cut its wage bill and limit energy subsidies to reduce a fiscal deficit, putting more pressure on the fragile government amid a severe financial and political crisis.
With the coronavirus pandemic, political infighting and protests since last month over social inequality, it is a time of unprecedented economic hardship in the North Africa country that ran a fiscal deficit of 11.5 percent of GDP in 2020.
The IMF said in statement that monetary policy should focus on inflation by steering short term interest rates, while preserving exchange rate flexibility.
Tunisia’s 2021 budget forecasts borrowing needs $7.2 billion including about $5 billion in foreign loans. It puts debt repayments due this year at 16 billion dinars, up from 11 billion dinars in 2020.
The IMF said the service salary bill is about 17.6% of GDP, among the highest in the world.


US House tees up vote on Biden’s $1.9tn COVID-19 relief plan

US House tees up vote on Biden’s $1.9tn COVID-19 relief plan
Updated 27 February 2021

US House tees up vote on Biden’s $1.9tn COVID-19 relief plan

US House tees up vote on Biden’s $1.9tn COVID-19 relief plan
  • Final passage appeared likely after the measure cleared a procedural hurdle by a partyline vote of 219 to 210.

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives moved on Friday toward a late-night vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill, as Democrats who narrowly control the chamber steered the sweeping measure toward approval.
Final passage appeared likely after the measure cleared a procedural hurdle by a partyline vote of 219 to 210.
With Republicans lining up in opposition, Democrats who hold a slim majority have few votes to spare.
“I am a happy camper tonight. This is what America needs,” Democratic Representative Maxine Waters said in debate on the House floor.
Democrats said the package was needed to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work, while Republicans criticized it as too expensive.
The measure would pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.
Democrats aim to get the bill for Biden to sign into law before mid-March, when enhanced unemployment benefits and some other types of aid are due to expire.
But their path has been complicated by the Senate’s rules expert, who said on Thursday that they cannot include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted the bill will pass Congress with or without the increase, but said Democrats would not give up on the matter.
“We will not stop until we very soon pass the $15 minimum wage,” she said at a news conference.
Opinion polls have found broad public support for the package.
Republicans who have broadly backed previous COVID-19 spending say another $1.9 trillion is simply too much. They said too much would go to Democratic priorities they called unnecessary, and only a fraction to directly fighting the virus.
“We need targeted tailored relief that actually helps the American people, not this $2 trillion boondoggle,” Republican Representative Debbie Lesko said.
The White House and some economists say a big package is needed to revive the world’s largest economy.
Biden has focused his first weeks in office on tackling the greatest public health crisis in a century, which has upended most aspects of American life.
Pelosi is counting on nearly all of her rank and file to get the bill passed before sending it to a 50-50 Senate where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE
The House bill would raise the national hourly minimum wage for the first time since 2009, to $15 from $7.25. The increase is a top priority for progressive Democrats.
That is unlikely to win approval in the Senate.
The chamber’s parliamentarian ruled on Thursday that, unlike other elements of the sweeping bill, it could not be passed with just a simple majority of 50 senators plus Harris, rather than the 60 needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.
At least two Senate Democrats oppose the $15 hourly figure, along with most Republicans. Some are floating a smaller increase, in the range of $10 to $12 per hour.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might add a provision to penalize large corporations that do not pay a $15 minimum wage, a Senate Democratic aide said.
The bill’s big-ticket items include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, a $400-per-week federal unemployment benefit through Aug. 29, and help for those in difficulty paying rents and home mortgages during the pandemic.
An array of business interests also has weighed in behind Biden’s “America Rescue Plan” Act, as the bill is called.
Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a series of bipartisan bills enacted in 2020.

Related


BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss
In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, file photo, British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in London. (AP)
Updated 27 February 2021

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss
  • Tighter travel restrictions have threatened to ruin Europe's critical summer season

LONDON: British Airways owner IAG is counting on digital health passes to help spur a travel recovery this summer, after the pandemic pushed it to a record €7.4 billion ($9 billion) loss last year, when it ran just a third of normal flights.

Tighter travel restrictions over the last two months have threatened to ruin Europe’s critical summer season and leave some airlines needing more funding, analysts have warned.
But after taking on new loans, IAG said it had €10.3 billion of liquidity and was well set to ride out the crisis.
“We’ve got very strong liquidity going into 2021 ... so no, we will not need additional funding,” finance chief Steve Gunning told reporters on a call.
European airlines hope travel restrictions will soon be eased to allow them to make money again. Britain on Monday laid out plans for travel markets to possibly reopen from mid-May, prompting a flood of bookings.
IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said if the UK plans went ahead, it would be a “positive summer,” but digital health passes were needed to unlock the market.
“Health passes are going to be the key to restart the aviation and the travel,” said Gallego, who is six months into the job, calling for a digital system that could include test results and proof of vaccination.
Several countries are considering health passports to help revive travel, but are worried about risks to civil liberties. However, Britain’s Heathrow Airport warned this week that dealing with a big rise in passengers would not be possible with current paper-based checks.
IAG shares were up 4 percent at 194 pence in morning trading. They have jumped 13 percent in the last five days, after Britain’s announcement on a travel restart, but over the last 12 months have lost half their value.

Cash burn
The pandemic has already crippled airlines like Norwegian Air, and left major players such as Air France-KLM and Lufthansa relying on state support.
While a recovery is now in sight, there is still much uncertainty.
IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, said it could not give profit guidance for 2021, and asked how many flights it might run this year, Gallego said: “To be honest nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
For January-March, IAG said it expected to fly about 20 percent of 2019’s capacity, compared to the whole of 2020 when it flew at 34 percent of capacity.
IAG’s focus for now is on cutting costs to reduce cash burn. Weekly cash burn fell to €185 million in the first quarter, down 30 million from the previous quarter.
Last October, IAG secured shareholder backing for a €2.74 billion capital hike and Goodbody analysts said it might have to call on investors again.
“With further losses expected this year ... another rights issue can’t be ruled out in the medium term,” they said.
IAG’s operating loss before exceptional items, its preferred measure, came in at €4.37 billion, slightly better than analysts’ consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion loss.


India’s economy expands 0.4% in Oct.-Dec.

India’s economy expands 0.4% in Oct.-Dec.
A vendor speaks on his mobile phone as he waits for customers displaying clothing in front of a store in a market in New Delhi on February 23, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 27 February 2021

India’s economy expands 0.4% in Oct.-Dec.

India’s economy expands 0.4% in Oct.-Dec.
  • India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, is projecting the gross domestic product growth of 10.5 percent in financial year 2021-22

NEW DELHI: India’s economy expanded by a weaker-than-expected 0.4 percent in the October-December quarter, which still allowed it to escape recession following large contractions in the two previous quarters during the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Friday.
The National Statistical Office projected an 8 percent contraction for the 2020-21 financial year, which ends in March. In January, it had projected a contraction of 7.7 percent for the fiscal year, following 4 percent growth in 2019-20.
It said fertilizer production rose by 2.7 percent in January, steel by 2.6 percent and electricity generation by 5.1 percent. Coal production declined by 1.8 percent, crude oil by 4.8 percent and natural gas by 2 percent, it said in a statement.
India’s economy contracted by 7.5 percent in the July-September quarter following a record plunge of 23.9 percent in the previous three months. The government had imposed a strict two-month lockdown across the country in March after the outbreak of the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHTS

● India’s economy contracted by 7.5 percent in the July-September quarter following a record plunge of 23.9 percent in the previous three months.

● The government had imposed a strict two-month lockdown across the country in March after the outbreak of the pandemic.

A country enters a technical recession if its economy contracts in two successive quarters. India’s recovery is expected to improve with a rise in consumer demand and investment.
India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, is projecting the gross domestic product growth of 10.5 percent in financial year 2021-22. The International Monetary Fund has projected 11.5 percent growth in calendar 2021.
The IMF estimated that the Indian economy contracted 8 percent in 2020.