Stocks fall, led by bank shares; oil steadies after plunge

Stocks globally eased as investors sought reasons to add risk following the passing of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. (AP)
Stocks globally eased as investors sought reasons to add risk following the passing of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. (AP)
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Updated 20 March 2021

Stocks fall, led by bank shares; oil steadies after plunge

Stocks fall, led by bank shares; oil steadies after plunge

NEW YORK: A gauge of global stocks fell on Friday as declines in US bank shares weighed on the S&P 500 after the Federal Reserve said it would let a key leverage exemption expire, while oil prices steadied after getting pummeled a day earlier.
Benchmark US Treasury yields, which have driven market moves broadly in recent weeks, hovered near 14-month highs while the US dollar strengthened for a second day.
Big US banks will have to resume holding an extra layer of loss-absorbing capital against US Treasuries and central bank deposits from next month after the Fed said it would not extend a temporary waiver that had exempted those assets from a key bank leverage rule.
Stocks globally eased as investors sought the next reasons to add risk following the passing of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, broadening COVID-19 vaccinations and encouraging economic news.
“We have had such a strong period of news-flow and catalysts on the positive end that now that a lot of those have largely been put into the market, we are now a little bit more susceptible to negative news causing big drawdowns,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 180.2 points, or 0.55 percent, to 32,682.1, the S&P 500 lost 2.15 points, or 0.05 percent, to 3,913.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 73.93 points, or 0.56 percent, to 13,190.09. The S&P 500 banks index dropped 1.9 percent.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.87 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.33 percent.
Markets have been consumed by moves in US bond yields, with investors still digesting the Fed’s meeting earlier this week. The central bank said it expects higher economic growth and inflation in the United States this year, although it repeated its pledge to keep its target interest rate near zero.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 1.7281 percent, from 1.729 percent late on Thursday. The 10-year yield hit 1.754 percent on Thursday, its highest level since January 2020.
“Ultimately, what we’re seeing now is a great deal of tension between market prices that embed several rate hikes before the end of 2023 and the Fed’s forecast that doesn’t expect lift-off until 2024,” said Ryan Swift, US bond strategist at BCA Research in Montreal.
The dollar extended gains against major currencies, hitting its highest level in a week.
The dollar index rose 0.208 percent, with the euro down 0.2 percent to $1.1891.
Oil prices gained after falling about 7 percent in the prior session, when a new wave of coronavirus infections across Europe dampened expectations of any imminent recovery in fuel demand.
US crude recently rose 0.9 percent to $60.54 per barrel and Brent was at $63.74, up 0.73 percent on the day.


Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement
Updated 8 min 5 sec ago

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s finance minister has issued the necessary license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment, the Saudi cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
Updated 22 June 2021

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
  • Program aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises still struggling due to the pandemic
  • More than 106,000 contracts have benefited since it was launched in March 2020 with a value of approximately SR167 billion

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced on Tuesday that it is extending a deferred payment program for a second time to help support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
SAMA said the program — one of the bank’s initiatives to support private sector financing — will be extended for another three months from July 1 through Sept. 30.
The move is part of SAMA’s role in maintaining the stability of the financial sector, enabling it to promote economic growth and maintain employment levels in the private sector, especially within micro enterprises and other SMEs.
More than 106,000 contracts have benefited from the program since it was launched in March 2020 while the value of the deferred payments for those contracts has amounted to approximately SR167 billion ($44.5 billion).
SAMA has also offered a secured financing program for SMEs as more than 5,282 contracts have benefited from that program with a total financing value of more than SR10 billion, the bank said in a statement.
These programs are meant to support the private sector and the levels of liquidity in the financial sector. They enable financing agencies to provide support while mitigating the economic and financial effects on the SME sector, the bank said.
This is the second time SAMA has extended the two programs to support SMEs. It renewed the deferred payment program for three months last March, while it also extended the guaranteed financing program for an additional year until March 14, 2022.


Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
Updated 22 June 2021

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
  • Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai

DUBAI: Beirut has become the most expensive city for expats in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the third globally, based on the latest “Cost of Living” survey by consultancy Mercer.
Jumping 42 places in global rankings, Beirut has been at the center of Lebanon’s economic and political collapse, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the port explosion last year.
Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai. Turkmenistan’s Ashgabat ranked first, in the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Hong Kong.
Mercer comes up with the annual list by comparing the cost of more than 200 items in each city, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Riyadh has become the most expensive city in the Gulf at 29th globally. Jeddah ranked 94th, the report showed.
Dubai dropped to 42nd in the list, down from 23rd last year, and Abu Dhabi ranked 56th from 39th a year earlier.
Other cities in the Gulf also became more affordable this year, the report revealed, with Bahrain dropping to 71st from 52nd, while Muscat fell to 108th from 96th. Kuwait City dropped two places to 115th and Qatar at 21 places to 130th.


Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
Updated 22 June 2021

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
  • Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said

DUBAI: Dubai Municipality has become the first government agency in the UAE to approve job titles for remote work, state news agency WAM has reported.
Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said, parallel to its other work setups such as its shifting system.
The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has made private, and even public, workplaces rethink ways to continue their operations despite the crisis.
Workplace innovation is not new to Dubai Municipality, as it pioneered flexible work systems for government departments in the UAE in 2007.
The pandemic has also made the municipality accelerate its smart transformation, to make the remote work system effective.


Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage
Updated 22 June 2021

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage

Mubadala-owned GlobalFoundries invests $6bn amid worldwide chip shortage
  • Tuesday’s expansion is in addition to the company’s previously announced plan to invest $1.4 billion in 2021 alone to expand its manufacturing capacity

SINGAPORE: Chipmaker GlobalFoundries said on Tuesday it will spend $6 billion to expand capacity at its factories in Singapore, Germany and the United States amid a chip shortage that is hurting automakers and electronics firms globally.
The US-based company, owned by Abu Dhabi’s state-owned fund Mubadala, said it will invest more than $4 billion in Singapore, and $1 billion each in the others over the next two years. The unlisted company’s Singapore operations contribute about a third of its revenue.
“I think the next five to eight years, we’re going to be chasing supply not demand as an industry,” GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield told a media briefing. He added that the company was prioritising automotive customers.
Tuesday’s expansion is in addition to the company’s previously announced plan to invest $1.4 billion in 2021 alone to expand its manufacturing capacity.
The chip shortage, which began in earnest in late December, was caused in part by automakers miscalculating demand for semiconductors in the pandemic. It was aggravated by electronics manufacturers placing more chip orders as work-from-home practices fueled a surge in sales of computers and other devices.
Large chipmakers including Intel Corp. have warned that the shortage will last well into next year. Intel announced in March a $20 billion plan to expand its advanced chip making capacity, while Taiwan’s TSMC said in April it will invest $100 billion over the next three years.
As well, governments, including those of the United States and Japan, have intervened to urge faster supplies. Earlier this month, the United States approved $54 billion in funds to increase US production and research into semiconductors and telecom equipment.
Caulfield said funding for GlobalFoundries’ expansion plan included investments from governments and pre-payments from customers.
The $4 billion investment in Singapore is the first of a phased expansion program planned by the company for the next five to 10 years, the CEO said. He did not specify a total amount.
The new Singapore fab will add capacity of 450,000 wafers per year, taking the campus’s total to 1.5 million, and the company expects to begin production in early 2023. Most of the added production will come online by end 2023.
The factory will make chips for cars and 5G technology, with long-term customer agreements already in place. It will add about 1,000 jobs in Singapore.