World equities markets sink as global trade war fears build

Should the US follow through, it would be “a considerable step-up in the trade dispute between US and China and would start to seriously threaten global growth" experts have warned. (AFP/Bryan R. Smith)
Updated 02 August 2018

World equities markets sink as global trade war fears build

  • World equities markets were in the red Thursday as trade war fears ratcheted higher
  • China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called on the US to remain “cool-headed”

LONDON: World equities markets were in the red Thursday as trade war fears ratcheted higher after the United States said it was looking at more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports.
In London, investors’ expectations were vindicated as the Bank of England hiked its key interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 percent.
The British central bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee voted unanimously to raise rates for only the second time since the global financial crisis, but left unchanged its quantitative easing stimulus, just as most analysts had expected.
More broadly, US and European markets followed in the footsteps of Asian trading floors, which sank after the US administration confirmed it was considering hiking levies to 25 percent from the announced 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Should the US follow through, it would be “a considerable step-up in the trade dispute between US and China and would start to seriously threaten global growth,” wrote Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called on the US to remain “cool-headed,” but that appeal alone appeared to do little to shift the mood on trading floors.
In Germany, the DAX blue chip index was down 1.6 percent in afternoon trading, with analysts blaming US tariff threats that would hit car manufacturers especially hard.
Aside from the threatened duties on Chinese imports, President Donald Trump has also warned the US may impose hefty tariffs on cars imported from the European Union, after already imposing steel and aluminum levies.
Investors and analysts welcomed the BoE’s interest rate announcement, with head of research at London Capital Group Jasper Lawler tweeting: “Bravo to BOE for finally putting rates on course to something normal.”
However he added: “Shame it has left it so late that chances of a quick reversal are much higher.”
Rising interest rates are a boon for savers but ramp up the cost of credit for consumers and companies.
On currency markets, the pound edged slightly higher in response to the rate hike, only to then drop below the level seen just before the meeting.
“The pound’s sharp decline could be based on investors acknowledging that today’s rate hike is a ‘one-and-done’ move,” wrote Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM.
“With Brexit uncertainty, cooling inflationary pressures and global trade tensions likely to obstruct the central bank’s efforts to raise interest rates, the pound remains vulnerable to downside risks,” he added.
The BoE’s decision came a day after the US Federal Reserve held its fire on interest rates, even as it highlighted the strength of the US economy and labor markets, indicating rate hikes ahead.
On the oil markets, higher oil production in petrol kings Saudi Arabia and Russia coupled with global trade war fears weighed down on prices Thursday, according to a note from Commerzbank.

MARKETS
New York — Dow Jones: DOWN 0.8 percent at 25,143.99 points
London — FTSE 100: DOWN 1.1 percent at 7,566.90
Frankfurt — DAX 30: DOWN 1.7 percent at 12,525.01
Paris — CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 5,454.80
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,115.43
Tokyo — Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 22,512.53 (close)
Hong Kong — Hang Seng: DOWN 2.2 percent at 27,714.56 (close)
Shanghai — Composite: DOWN 2.0 percent at 2,768.02 (close)

CURRENCIES
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1626 from $1.1659 at 2030 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3059 from $1.3124
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.63 yen from 111.86 yen

OIL
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 25 cents at $67.41 per barrel
Brent Crude: DOWN 17 cents at $72.22 per barrel


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.