Futures advance as vaccines, stimulus boost bets on economic rebound

Texas rolled back coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, saying most businesses may open at full capacity next week. (Montinique Monroe/Getty Images/AFP)
Texas rolled back coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, saying most businesses may open at full capacity next week. (Montinique Monroe/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 03 March 2021

Futures advance as vaccines, stimulus boost bets on economic rebound

Futures advance as vaccines, stimulus boost bets on economic rebound
  • President Joe Biden said the US will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May

BENGALURU: US stock index futures rose on Wednesday as a swift global roll out of vaccines and a new round of stimulus bolstered bets on a quick economic rebound, with investors also focusing on private employment and service sector reports.

Texas sweepingly rolled back coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, lifting a mask mandate and saying most businesses may open at full capacity next week as many US states record a sharp decline in new infections and hospitalization.

President Joe Biden also said the United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May.
The US Senate is expected to take up Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Wednesday, with Democrats aiming to get it signed into law before March 14, when some current jobless benefits expire.
At 06:35 a.m. EST, Dow E-minis were up 202 points, or 0.64% and S&P 500 E-minis were up 21.5 points, or 0.56%. Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 86.5 points, or 0.65%.
Futures tracking the small-cap Russell 2000 jumped about 1.1%.
Further aiding risk sentiment, the US 10-year Treasury yield was last up 1.44%, well below last week’s peak of above 1.61% that triggered a selloff in the equities market on valuation worries.
Investors have lately unwound positions in high-flying technology-focused stocks and moved into sectors that are likely to benefit from an economy recovery, including financials , energy and industrials.
Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were up between 1.2% and 1.7% in trading before the bell.
ISM’s survey is expected to show US services industry activity remained at its highest level in nearly two years in February, unchanged from January.
A separate report is likely to show US private payrolls rebounded further in February after the economy shed jobs in December. It comes ahead of the more comprehensive monthly jobs report.
Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. rose about 1.5% each as oil prices were boosted by expectations that OPEC+ producers might decide against increasing output when they meet this week.
However, Exxon said that it planned to cut its workforce in Singapore, home to its largest oil refining and petrochemical complex, by about 7% due to “unprecedented market conditions” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: April 9, 2021

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 10 April 2021

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: April 9, 2021

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Oil prices are still moving in a narrow range, despite the OPEC+ plan to increase output

RIYADH: On the week’s closing, oil prices deteriorated and made the first weekly drop in three weeks. The Brent crude oil price dropped to $62.95 per barrel, while still trading in the narrow range between $61 and $65 for more than three weeks.

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks, as most of Europe and the US were partially on holidays and some investors may have positioned themselves ahead of the holidays and therefore affected the market one way or the other.

Now that it looks like the US is adding 916,000 jobs for March, it may give traders the idea that more demand is coming into the picture, despite the fact the EU is still in lockdown. That might keep the upward momentum dampened a bit but, on the other hand, it still looks bullish as global oil inventories continue to fall and Brent’s futures price curve remains backwardated.

Oil prices are still moving in a narrow range, despite the OPEC+ plan to increase output, returning 2 million barrels per day (bpd) over the coming three months, despite the increasing lockdown measures.

Though the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has acknowledged the heightened uncertainty of oil demand recovery, EIA April’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) report again forecast rising prices for both Brent and WTI. EIA forecasts Brent crude price to average $62.28 per barrel in 2021 and $60.49 per barrel in 2022. EIA forecasts WTI to average $58.89 per barrel in 2021 and $56.74 per barrel in 2022.

EIA forecasted global oil demand to average 97.7 million bpd in 2021, which is higher by 5.5 million barrels per day from the 2020 global oil demand average.

EIA has lowered its forecast for the US oil production to average 11.04 million bpd this year, while last month EIA’s STEO forecast was 11.15 million bpd. EIA reported US crude inventories fell by 3.5 million barrels to 501.8 million barrels and expects that gasoline prices could hit their highest in three years this summer.

The latest figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on April 6, 2021 showed that long positions on crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange numbered 655,327 contracts, down by 20,166 contracts from the previous week (1,000 barrels for each contract). It is the fourth consecutive weekly drop in positions.


500 Startups venture capitalist is positive about growth in Saudi market

Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

500 Startups venture capitalist is positive about growth in Saudi market

Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
  • About $152 million was invested in Saudi-based companies in 2020

RIYADH: Amal Dokhan, who was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner, is confident that the Saudi market will continue to grow in 2021.

A seasoned professional with experience in startup investments, corporate innovation and consulting in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Dokhan was in upbeat mood when she spoke to Arab News.

“What we are seeing now in 2021, the numbers will definitely increase when it comes to Saudi Arabia and the region as well. The reason is that last year, when it was not expected for things to increase, they actually turned out to be a positive year for many companies and startups, especially in fintech (financial technology),” she said.

“The year has started with a positive sign for startups and VCs. Lots of international investors are looking into the Saudi market, so lots of prosperity I think is coming on this year and we are going to witness a good number of the deals as well,” she said.

The Saudi VC market has matured and now it a good time for startups as the investment appetite is high. The VC environment in the Kingdom has changed, Dokhan believes. At the moment, there are 47 VCs, and the number is growing. The increased demand is due to the coronavirus, as companies across the Kingdom have been forced to embrace online work and e-commerce has surged, creating more opportunities for startups and VCs.

About $152 million was invested in Saudi-based companies in 2020, she said. 500 Startups itself had also invested in many companies during this time, she said. The Californian firm has run more than 50 accelerator programs in Silicon Valley and around the world, and invested in more than 2,500 companies worldwide, including more than 180 companies in the MENA region.

New startups will be be selected from Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, and 500 Startup’s global network of mentors will help the businesses to scale-up and build regional and global connections, she said.

Sanabil Investments, a Riyadh-based investment firm wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has entered into partnership with 500 Startups to launch an early-stage accelerator program for Saudi startups.

The Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program will consist of six programs run by 500 Startups over three years for a group of pre-seed and seed stage startups from across the MENA region.

Dokhan is involved in the program, which will invest up to $100,000 in new startups. There are about 15 mentors who support the program from around the world, who have vast experience in nurturing startups. The program has already begun and is currently in its second week.

“Our program Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program is actually present here with a fund of $15 million . . . and Saudi Arabia will be very well represented in the program. When we launched this program, we were very happy with the number of startups that applied from Saudi Arabia and the region and applications exceeded 500 applications in a very short time,” she said.


Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign
Updated 10 April 2021

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign
  • The global campaign will showcase Dubai as a “multi-faceted must-visit family destination”

DUBAI: Dubai’s tourism body is launching a summer holiday campaign in May, with a particular focus on attracting family vacationers, it said on Saturday.
The global campaign will showcase Dubai as a “multi-faceted must-visit family destination,” with a variety of offerings for all ages.
It was announced at a virtual Town Hall meeting hosted by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), attended by over 600 industry professionals.
There will be promotions and other activities to encourage travelers to choose the emirate for their summer getaway, including discounted rates on hotel stays and airline tickets.


Saudi Credit Bureau issued 116m reports in 16 years

Saudi Credit Bureau issued 116m reports in 16 years
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi Credit Bureau issued 116m reports in 16 years

Saudi Credit Bureau issued 116m reports in 16 years
  • SIMAH plays an important role in helping consumers, corporates, and SMEs obtain financing
  • Its credit data on individuals and corporate borrowers helps remove the uncertainty that has traditionally been associated with lending

RIYADH: The Saudi Credit Bureau (SIMAH) issued more than 116 million credit reports to the Saudi market since its establishment in 2004 until the end of December 2020, helping its members identify their customers’ credit behavior and bring more transparency to the Kingdom’s lending system.
Over the same period, the size of SIMAH’s database of consumers rose to around 18 million — individuals and companies. The number of credit scores it provided between 2018 and 2020 amounted to over 28 million.
SIMAH plays an important role in helping consumers, corporates, and small and medium-sized enterprises obtain financing.
Its credit data on individuals and corporate borrowers helps remove the uncertainty that has traditionally been associated with lending.
The new data comes as SIMAH launched its latest awareness campaign Amwalk-2. The financial literacy program is designed to help all segments of society achieve their financial goals, reduce defaults and enhance the culture of savings.
With Amwalk-2, SIMAH aims to shed light on issues related to financial and credit aspects of individual consumers, in an effort to raise the level of financial literacy and introduce consumers to the importance of financial planning.
It also aims to enhance the essential role of SIMAH, being the first licensed credit bureau in the Saudi market, in helping consumers assess their creditworthiness and guide them toward the most optimal use of credit cards.
Through Amwalk-2, SIMAH is actively contributing to the preservation of consumers’ rights and follows the eight credit principles: Neutrality, transparency, education, awareness, credit behavior, complaints, protection and confidentiality.
It seeks to stress the importance of a credit report in organizing and managing budgets, taking financing decisions and knowing financial obligations with credit donors.
“Amwalk-2 comes as an extension of Amwalk-1 that SIMAH launched in 2019, as one of the largest financial education programs. We believe in the importance of spreading financial culture and try to play a role in this aspect by highlighting consumers’ rights,” SIMAH CEO Swaied Alzahrani said in a statement.
“Financial education is progressively necessary. It’s turning into essential for the typical family making an attempt to determine the way to balance its budget, buy a home, fund the children’s education and ensure an income when the parents retire. Recent developments have created financial education more and more necessary for financial well-being.”


India’s L&T wins order for world’s biggest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia

India’s L&T wins order for world’s biggest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 April 2021

India’s L&T wins order for world’s biggest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia

India’s L&T wins order for world’s biggest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia
  • The Public Investment Fund (PIF) solar project is part of the Kingdom’s push to invest in renewable energy

DUBAI: Mumbai-headquartered Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has secured a contract to build the Sudair solar PV project in Saudi Arabia.

The renewables arm of L&T’s Power Transmission and Distribution business has bagged the turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the Riyadh plant, which has a total capacity of 1.5 gigawatts – the biggest in the world.

“The project that is coming up in Riyadh Province has a 30.8 square kilometre land parcel available to install a total capacity of 1.5GW PV Solar modules with associated single axial tracker and inverters,” the company said in a statement.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) solar project is part of the Kingdom’s push to invest in renewable energy. It is also part of the PIF’s 70 percent target capacity of 58.7 gigawatts.