Stock markets set for best month ever; gold and dollar pay the price

Stock markets set for best month ever; gold and dollar pay the price
A currency trader passes by screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul. (AP)
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Updated 01 December 2020

Stock markets set for best month ever; gold and dollar pay the price

Stock markets set for best month ever; gold and dollar pay the price
  • November’s record 13 percent leap has added $6.7 trillion — or $155 million a minute — to the value of world equities

NEW YORK: World stock markets dipped on Monday to close a record-breaking month as the prospect of a vaccine-driven economic recovery next year and further stimulus measures by central banks eclipsed immediate concerns about the spiking coronavirus pandemic.

November’s record 13 percent leap has added $6.7 trillion — or $155 million a minute — to the value of world equities.

At the same time, oil, industrial commodities and other risk assets have surged, with emerging-market currencies posting their largest gains in almost two years, while safe-havens such as the dollar and gold slipped.

“It has been a very, very strong month for markets, especially on the equity side but also on the fixed income side too,” said Rabobank’s head of macro strategy, Elwin de Groot.

The positive developments on vaccines and the swiftness with which they are likely to be rolled out have been key drivers.

“And this market still remains very much supported by liquidity from the central banks,” De Groot said. With the European Central Bank set to provide more stimulus next month, “the market view seems to be, what can possibly go wrong?”

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.39 percent following modest declines in Asia and mixed trading in Europe. Many European markets are boasting their best month ever, with France up 21 percent and Italy almost 26 percent. The Nikkei’s 15 percent leap in Japan was its best month since 1994.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 190.36 points, or 0.64 percent, to 29,720.01, the S&P 500 lost 6.4 points, or 0.18 percent, to 3,631.95 and the Nasdaq Composite added 29.91 points, or 0.25 percent, to 12,235.76.

The surge in stocks has put competitive pressure on safe-haven bonds, but much of that has been cushioned by expectations of more asset buying by central banks.

US benchmark 10-year notes last fell 2/32 in price to yield 0.8471 percent, from 0.842 percent late on Friday.

“Markets are overbought and at risk of a short-term pause,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.

“However, we are now in a seasonally strong time of year and investors are yet to fully discount the potential for a very strong recovery next year in growth and profits as stimulus combines with vaccines.”

Helping sentiment further on Monday was a survey showing that factory activity in China beat forecasts in November, and the country’s central bank surprised with an extra helping of cheap loans.

Moderna provided the regular Monday dose of vaccine news, saying it was applying for emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and conditional approval from the EU.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress on Tuesday amid speculation of further policy action at its next meeting in mid-December.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was pinned at 91.704 after shedding 2.4 percent for the month to lows last seen in mid-2018.

One major casualty of the rush to risk has been gold, which was near a five-month trough at $1,769 an ounce, having shed 5.6 percent in November.

Oil, in contrast, has benefited nearly 30 percent from the prospect of a revival in demand should vaccines allow travel and transport to resume next year.


German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 21 January 2021

German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • COVID-19 pandemic has brought slump in average hotel occupancy rates in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: A German start-up established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates is now working in Saudi Arabia.

NeuSpace aims to assist operators in coming up with new ways to generate revenue from their empty spaces.

Anne Schaeflein, a co-founder of the Dusseldorf-based company, told Arab News: “For hotel properties still in the completion phase, we feel it is best to evaluate the perspective, and to diversify pre-opening.

“To be empathic to the existing (or planned) infrastructure and environment of the location, we run a feasibility study and look at how the space could be best used from an ROI (return on investment) as well as community perspective. Turning function spaces into day nurseries, delis, and bakeries,” she said.

Anne Schaeflein, Collaborative Founder NeuSpace. (Supplied)

According to the company’s website, it aims to address the needs of hotel investors, operators, and the wider community surrounding the property.

“We deliver quick solutions to retain some of the hospitality jobs, and add others, and offer attractive living space for communities, all within one to four months, depending on the individual projects,” the company said.

A report in November by global hotel data analysis company, STR, found that the average occupancy rate in Saudi Arabia was 34.7 percent, down 38.7 percent on the previous year. As a result, the average revenue per available room fell 35.5 percent year-on-year to SR172.70 ($46.05).

Looking to the future, real estate consultancy firm, Colliers International, has forecast that average occupancy rates in Riyadh and Alkhobar will be 55 percent, 51 percent in Jeddah and Madinah, and 37 percent in Makkah.

On innovative solutions, Schaeflein said the startup’s concept was formed around the key pillars of value preservation, creating new housing space, and innovative housing concepts.

She pointed out that the company looked at how areas such as roof gardens or social spaces could be used by the wider community, or how pools and spas not being used by guests could be utilized by local residents.

NeuSpace also studies how back-office services and facilities could be offered to residents to better utilize staffing levels. This could include offering dog-minding services, turning rooms into office or retail areas, or renting out restaurant and entertainment spaces when footfall was low.