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.


Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman
Ajay Adiseshann. (Supplied)
Updated 57 min 17 sec ago

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman

Indian fintech provider plans expansion into KSA, Oman
  • The company is aiming to double the global volume of transactions it processes to nearly $6 billion by March 2022

RIYADH: Indian financial technology (fintech) provider PayMate is planning to expand into Saudi Arabia and Oman after having recently launched into the region in the UAE.

Mumbai-based PayMate, which helps companies manage their cash flow and invoice payments, is aiming that up to 15 percent of its total revenue will come from the Middle East market within the next year.

“Our first customer went live recently in the UAE. We have a strong pipeline of customers there. And we are also expanding to new countries like Saudi Arabia and Oman thereafter,” founder and CEO Ajay Adiseshann was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper this week.

“It is exactly the same model, the same use-case, same problem statement which we address here in India. We are delivering everything from India, via the cloud. But from a sales development, business standpoint, we have our local employees in those countries.”

The company is aiming to double the global volume of transactions it processes to nearly $6 billion by March 2022.

Chief Financial Officer Ravi Vishvanathan told the Economic Times that PayMate currently has 200 companies using its platform and is aiming to boost this to around 400 by March 2022.


GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector
Updated 23 June 2021

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector

GAMI presents growth strategy for Saudi military sector
  • Ahmad Al-Ohali provided an overview of the national military industry strategy, the Industrial Participation Program, and the role of research and technology in Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy
  • H. Delano Roosevelt recalled the long history of cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, and predicted that America will continue to play a dominant role in supporting the Kingdom

RIYADH: The US-Saudi Business Council (USSBC) and the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) presented an executive virtual webinar on Wednesday titled “Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Military Industry Growth Strategy.”

Moderated by USSBC President and CEO H. Delano Roosevelt, the webinar provided participating US company representatives with an understanding of the Kingdom’s blossoming defense and security sector. 

Ahmad Al-Ohali, governor of GAMI and the event’s featured speaker, highlighted the authority’s role in developing the Kingdom’s military industry sector.

He also provided an overview of the national military industry strategy, the Industrial Participation Program, and the role of research and technology in Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy.

GAMI was established to grow the Kingdom’s military industries sector, in line with the Vision 2030 target of localizing more than 50 percent of defense expenditures by 2030.

GAMI is the regulator, enabler and licensor of the sector, and is responsible for its development and empowerment. 

Since the launch of Vision 2030 just five years ago, Saudi Arabia has achieved significant socioeconomic milestones while showing tremendous progress in transforming many key sectors of the economy. 

As a result of GAMI’s commitment to its mandate, the military industries sector has rapidly transformed and is now on a steady path to becoming a major contributor to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil gross domestic product. 

Al-Ohali emphasized the breadth of opportunities that Saudi Arabia’s defense localization presents to global investors and US defense partners.

Development of the military industries sector requires a whole ecosystem of research and technology institutions, a skilled workforce and other support functions, in addition to local production capabilities, he said. 

Roosevelt recalled the long history of cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, and predicted that America will continue to play a dominant role in supporting the Kingdom through future strategic relationships.

He said the USSBC will continue facilitating connections between US and Saudi companies, and educating American businesses about the benefits of engaging in the Saudi market.


SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
Updated 23 June 2021

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
  • SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen
  • Chemicals giant focuses on recycling plastics

RIYADH: SABIC and BASF, two of the world’s largest chemical producers, met in Riyadh to share insights into their respective programs to develop circular economy solutions for the plastics industry.
SABIC shared progress it has made with TRUCIRCLE, a collection of processes that allow for the certification of polymers created through recycling of used and mixed plastic, certified bio-based renewable polymers, certified renewable polycarbonate (PC), and mechanically recycled polymers.
BASF discussed ChemCycling, a project to develop a pyrolysis technology that turns plastic waste into a secondary raw material called pyrolysis oil. The German multinational also explained how its plastic additives facilitate mechanical recycling of plastics.
SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen, The Netherlands, which will produce TRUCIRCLE certified circular polymers from recycled plastic.
“TRUCIRCLE has been introduced as a way to collectively showcase our circular innovations and help manufacturers reduce plastic waste through the adoption of a range of sustainable material solutions,” said Mark Vester, SABIC’ global leader circular economy. “It forms part of our circular economy business and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production.”


Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
Updated 23 June 2021

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
  • The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet

DUBAI: Humvee manufacturer AM General has struck an initial agreement to help develop the production of military vehicles in Egypt.
The deal with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production is expected to become a long term partnership to develop and build tactical vehicles in-country, the US-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet.
“Today’s signing ceremony further solidifies our long-standing relationship with the government of Egypt,” said AM General President CEO Andy Hove. “We look forward to applying our manufacturing and design expertise to help grow the Egyptian automotive industry.”
The agreement is part of a broader push to develop more domestic military manufacturing in Egypt which is already a major defense sector importer. Arab states are ramping up spending on local defense sector investments as part of their economic diversification agendas which aim to create more local jobs while at the same time substituting value-added imports with locally manufactured alternatives.


Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
Updated 23 June 2021

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
  • Program is open to foreign retirees

RIYADH: Oman has announced a new program under which foreign investors are granted long-term residency, Asharq reported citing a statement by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.

The Investor Residence program will be for a period of five to 10 years, subject to renewal, and is open to foreign retirees, the ministry said.

The program, starting in September, aims to attract quality investments according to clear and specific controls.