Black Monday: Oil price slump, virus spark market meltdown

Black Monday: Oil price slump, virus spark market meltdown
The closing numbers are displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 March 2020

Black Monday: Oil price slump, virus spark market meltdown

Black Monday: Oil price slump, virus spark market meltdown
  • Global stocks in turmoil amid wave of sell-offs
  • $400 billion wiped off regional markets in two days

DUBAI: Financial markets around the world tumbled on Monday as investors took fright at the growing economic risks from the global coronavirus outbreak and the prospect of a prolonged decline in oil prices.

On Wall Street, the world’s biggest financial market, leading shares fell by 7 percent on opening, wiping billions of dollars off investments, after the big markets in Asia and Europe had all experienced sharp declines. New York recovered slightly in later trading, and after a rollercoaster day the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed nearly 8 percent down.

The Middle East was no exception to the wave of selling, with the Tadawul in Riyadh closing 7.75 percent down on the day. UAE markets fell by similar amounts. Regional markets have lost about $400 billion in value over the past two days.

“We are now in a period of true turmoil. Fear is now all-pervasive,” oil historian Daniel Yergin said on US TV.

Global investors, already spooked by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, were panicked by the prospect of a price war in energy markets after Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, offered customers big discounts on crude supplies from next month.

Oil prices fell sharply in global trading. Brent crude, the benchmark for Middle East oil, plunged by nearly 30 percent — its biggest fall on opening in nearly three decades. It recovered significantly in later trading, to stand at $37.27 per barrel, down 17.5 percent.

Independent oil company shares were savaged. BP fell 19 percent, Shell 15 percent and ExxonMobil 8 percent. Tadawul-quoted shares in Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, were 5.5 percent down at close.

The damage was even worse for oil companies with significant exposure to US shale, potentially the biggest losers from a price war. Occidental Petroleum, a big investor in Texas shale, fell 35 percent at halftime trading in New York.

Nevertheless, investment experts said the carnage in the oil sector would not necessarily lead to a financial crisis. 

“The prospect of heightened instability in energy markets adds to the pessimism created by coronavirus, but the fall in oil prices will not on its own lead to a financial crisis like 2009,” Tarek Fadlallah, chief executive of Nomura Asset Management in Dubai, told Arab News.

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Al-Rajhi Capital in Riyadh, said the oil sector was “one of the major casualties” of the market volatility prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, and that a “cascading effect” could be expected on the local economy.

However, he also saw potential for optimism. “Upside surprise could be a seasonal fade-out of virus implications, renewed Opec+ agreement, an increase in oil prices as supply reduces, and sharp de-escalation of Chinese situation.”

 


Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year
Updated 20 min 2 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year

Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center wins global awards for second year
  • Saudi office won Middle East and emerging market awards

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia won the Best Sovereign Public Debt Office in the Middle East and the Most Impressive Emerging Market Issuer Award at the 2021 Global Capital Bond Awards, for the year 2021, for the second year in a row, SPA reported.

The Global Capital Bond Awards honors the achievements of governments and companies of all sizes in the field of sovereign and regional finance, banking services, hedge funds, and many other areas within the financial services sector.

It also highlights the most prominent innovations and achievements within the financial services sector, globally.

Saudi Arabia sold SR8.27 billion ($2.20 billion) of riyal-denominated sukuk in June, up from $941 million in May, bunt down from $3.1 billion April, National Debt Management Center data show.

“Driving growth of the Kingdom’s capital markets will be an increase in bond issuance to help fund the SR12 trillion Vision 2030," said Khalid Al-Bihlal, head of S&P Global Ratings KSA. "We project a gradual rise in the use of Saudi Arabian riyal-denominated bond issuance as the local capital markets develop. The US dollar is currently the currency of choice for such bonds."


Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA
Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

Saudi MoF electronically linked to SAMA

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced the completion of an electronic link with the Ministry of Finance to process requests relating to the bank accounts of government agencies held at Saudi commercial banks through the online portal Hesaab.

SAMA is seeking to improve and accelerate the procedures related to requests of government agencies’ bank accounts received from the Ministry of Finance, by implementing technical solutions with minimal human intervention, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The Hesaab portal is one of the National Transformation Program 2020 initiatives that improves the level of financial services, in line with Vision 2030.


Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish
Updated 18 June 2021

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish

Oil falls amid dollar strength; demand picture still bullish
  • Prices remain close to multi-year highs
  • Dollar jumped since Fed moved rate-hike forecast forward

LONDON: Oil prices fell for a second straight session on Friday as the US dollar soared on the prospect of interest rate hikes in the United States, but they were on track to finish the week little changed and only slightly off multi-year highs.
Brent crude futures were down 64 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $72.44 a barrel as of 9:00 a.m. GMT, extending a 1.8 percent decline on Thursday. The contract is set to be largely steady for the week.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 53 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $70.51 a barrel, after retreating 1.5 percent on Thursday and is also set to be flat on the week.
On Wednesday, Brent settled at its highest price since April 2019 while WTI settled at its highest since October 2018.
“Oil markets retreated sharply overnight as a stronger US dollar and falling commodity prices elsewhere saw the overbought technical correction continue,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
The dollar has rocketed in the two sessions since the US Federal Reserve projected possible rate hikes in 2023, earlier than market watchers previously expected. A rising dollar makes oil more expensive in other currencies, curbing demand.
The prospect of rate hikes also weighed on the longer-term growth outlook, which would eventually hurt oil demand, in contrast to the near-term outlook for growth in demand as COVID-19 related curbs on movement and business activity ease and road and air travel pick up, said Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk.
“The near term’s all very positive. The question is how much further can it rise, how much scope is there if you’re looking at an environment where interest rates are going to rise,” Smirk said.
Oil prices also fell after Britain on Thursday reported its biggest daily rise in new cases of COVID-19 since Feb. 19, with government figures showing 11,007 new infections versus 9,055 a day earlier.
Adding to negative sentiment were remarks from Iran’s top negotiator on Thursday saying talks between Tehran and Washington on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have come closer than ever to an agreement.


Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020
Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020

Saudi listed company debt jumped by half in 2020
  • Debt-to-asset ratio of Saudi companies ended 2020 at 20.1 percent

RIYADH: The debts of companies listed on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, excluding real estate funds, increased by 45 percent last year as they borrowed to face down the pandemic and took advantage of low interest rates.

Debt reached SR1.3 trillion ($346 billion) at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, up from SR899.2 billion a year earlier, Al Eqtisadiah reported, citing data from the Tadawul and Saudi Capital Market Authority. On a quarterly basis, debt rose 8.1 percent.

The debt-to-assets ratio of the companies climbed to a record 21.4 percent from 15.8 at the end of 2019, the data showed.

Saudi companies have stepped up bond sales in recent months as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near record lows.

Saudi Aramco yesterday said it completed a $6 billion dollar sukuk offering, which takes its bond issuance since 2019 to $26 billion.


Egypt central bank holds interest rates for fifth straight month

Egypt central bank holds interest rates for fifth straight month
Updated 18 June 2021

Egypt central bank holds interest rates for fifth straight month

Egypt central bank holds interest rates for fifth straight month
  • Lending rate kept at 9.25 percent, deposit rate at 8.25 percent
  • GDP grew at 2.9 percent in Q1, up from 2 percent in Q4, 2020

CAIRO: The Monetary Policy Committee of Egypt’s Central Bank (CBE) kept its deposit rate at 8.25 percent on Thursday and its lending rate at 9.25 percent, the fifth consecutive month it left them unchanged.

Global economic activity is recovering, albeit unevenly across sectors and countries, and supportive financial conditions are likely to continue globally in the medium term, the central bank said in a statement.

Policy makers noted the rise in global prices of oil, food and other primary commodities as supply struggled to keep up with surging demand.

Egypt’s annual general urban inflation rate rose to 4.8 percent in May 2021 from 4.1 percent in April.

The central bank, which has a target inflation rate of 7 percent, plus or minus 2 percent, through the fourth quarter of 2022, expects inflation to continue to reflect base effects from last year when the pandemic suppressed prices.

Preliminary data indicate annual real GDP growth of 2.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021, up from 2 percent in the prior quarter.