Asian markets cautious as Turkish lira takes a dive

Asian markets cautious as Turkish lira takes a dive
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Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower on Friday after rising US bond yields pulled stocks lower, dampening enthusiasm driven by the Federal Reserve's promise of low interest rates. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Asian markets cautious as Turkish lira takes a dive
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A man walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange on March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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Updated 22 March 2021

Asian markets cautious as Turkish lira takes a dive

Asian markets cautious as Turkish lira takes a dive
  • Turkish lira skids as Erdogan dumps central banker
  • Yen makes modest gains, eyes on Japanese retail investors

SYDNEY, Australia: Asian markets faced a fresh stress test on Monday as a plunge in the Turkish lira lifted the safe-haven yen and blunted risk appetite, although the fallout so far looked to be relatively contained.
The dollar was trading almost 15% higher on the lira at 8.3000 after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shocked markets by replacing Turkey’s hawkish central bank governor with a like-minded critic of high interest rates.
“Erdogan’s decision to fire Governor Agbal, who had sought to instil some price stability and perception of Bank independence, now raises question as to whether the new Governor will look to lower rates while still aim to fight higher inflation,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.
The uncertainty was enough to see Nikkei futures ease to 29,280, pointing to an opening drop from the cash close on Friday of 29,792.
Nasdaq futures dipped 0.3% and S&P 500 futures 0.2%. June futures for Treasury 10-year notes edged up just 1 tick, suggesting there was no broad rush to safety.
Investors are still struggling to deal with the recent surge in US bond yields, which has left equity valuations for some sectors, particularly tech, looking stretched.
Bonds had another wobble on Friday when the Federal Reserve decided not to extend a capital concession for banks, which could lessen their demand for Treasuries.
The damage was limited, however, by the Fed’s promise to work on the rules to prevent strains in the financial system.
Monday’s tumble in the lira saw the yen firm modestly, with notable gains on the euro and Australian dollar . That in turn dragged the euro down slightly on the dollar to $1.1880.
After an initial slip, the dollar soon steadied at 108.86 yen, while the dollar index was a shade higher at 92.080 .
Also lifting the yen were concerns Japanese retail investors that have built long lira positions, a popular trade for the yield-hungry sector, might be squeezed out, so triggering another round of lira selling.
Still, analysts at Citi doubted that episode would lead to widespread pressure on emerging markets, noting the last time the lira slid in 2020, there was little spillover.
“In terms of impact on other parts of the high-yielding EM, we believe that will be quite limited,” Citi said in a note.
There was little sign of safe-haven demand for gold, which eased 0.3% to $1,739 an ounce.
Oil prices fell anew, having shed almost 7% last week as concerns about global demand prompted speculators to take profits on long positions after a long bull run.
Brent was off 29 cents at $64.24 a barrel, while US crude lost 24 cents to $61.18 per barrel.

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%
Updated 18 sec ago

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar has approved its budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the country’s Minister of Finance Ali Al Kuwari said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Revenues are expected to amount to 196 billion riyals ($53.8 billion), a 22.4 percent rise compared to last year’s budget estimates, Asharq reported. 

Estimates for the budget were made while assuming oil prices to be $55 per barrel during the year on the back of healthier global energy prices.

Additionally, expenditures are predicted to hit 204.3 billion riyals, growing by an annual rate of 4.9 percent.

This will lead to a budget deficit of 8.3 billion riyals. Al Kuwari added that this deficit will be addressed through current monetary balances and the issuance of local and foreign debt instruments if needed.

EU’s economy

Output in the EU expanded by a quarterly rate of 2.1 percent in this year’s third quarter, according to preliminary estimates by Eurostat. 

Austria experienced the highest rise in activity, recording an economic growth rate of 3.9 percent. France and Portugal came next, as their economies widened by 3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Household consumption mainly drove the production’s rise in the region, going up by 4 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter’s 3.7 percent expansion. 

Government final consumption expenditure climbed by 0.3 percent while gross fixed capital formation declined by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, employment growth reached 0.9 percent in the third quarter of 2021 when compared to the previous quarter.

In addition, the euro area’s Indicator of Economic Sentiment improved by 0.9 points in December to hit 26.8 points, Zew, a Germany economic policy institute, said. 

However, the outlook was different for Germany, as its sentiment indicator fell by 1.8 points to reach 29.9 points. Deteriorations caused by the pandemic, as well as supply chain disruptions, are dragging the German economy down, the Mannheim-based firm noted.

Economic expectations also fell, signalling that forecasts about healthy short-term growth are not gaining momentum.

Moreover, the country’s industrial production went up by a monthly rate of 2.8 percent in October, preliminary estimates by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed.

In particular, production of capital goods widened by 8.2 percent while output of intermediate goods dropped by 0.4 percent.

Japan’s household spending

Household spending in Japan continued to fall, on an annual basis, for the third month in a row. This was attributed to weak consumer sentiment that is still recovering from the pandemic.

Spending by the sector dropped by a yearly rate of 0.6 percent in October, compared to a 1.9 percent fall in the previous month.

The country’s government recently introduced a $490 billion stimulus package to boost the economy, unlike other countries that are starting to roll back on their spending programs, Reuters reported.

Australia’s monetary policy

Australia’s central bank maintained its monetary policy and interest rate unchanged. The decision was driven by concerns over omicron, the new coronavirus variant.

The country’s interest rate remained at 0.1 percent, according to Bloomberg. The bank noted that it will raise interest rates when inflation reaches its target of 2-3 percent.

The bank added that the labor market and economy are experiencing upturns.

China’s trade

Exports and imports in China grew annually by 22 percent and 32 percent in November when compared to a year earlier, reaching all-time records.

Yet, exports growth slowed down due to a thinning demand and a rise in costs.

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured
Updated 2 min 1 sec ago

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni rial recovered on Tuesday by roughly 30 percent hours after the Yemeni president reshuffled the country’s central bank board in a bid to rein in the rapid currency devaluation. 

Local moneychangers told Arab News that the Yemeni rial began bouncing back on Monday night when President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed the governor of the Aden-based central bank and his deputy. 

By Tuesday morning, the Yemeni currency rose from 1,700 to 1,100 against the dollar before dropping again to 1,250 in the afternoon. 

The rial has rapidly tumbled during the past couple of weeks, reaching a historic record low of 1,750 this week, compared to 215 in early 2015. 

Yemen’s president appointed Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb as the new governor and head of the central bank’s administrative board. Mohammed Omer Banaja was appointed his deputy. 

The official news agency reported that the president authorized the Central Agency for Control and Accountability to monitor the bank’s current and previous financial activities. 

Four previous central bank chiefs, all appointed Hadi, failed to prevent the rial’s plunge despite their expertise and strong educational backgrounds.

The central bank had closed dozens of exchange firms and shops that violated the bank’s monetary rules and were involved in speculative activities on foreign currency. The central bank also ordered banks in the Houthi-controlled areas to move offices and operations to Aden, or face punitive measures and provided fuel and food importers with dollars. The rial continued losing value against the dollar, as several blacklisted firms and banks continued operations  in the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

Mustafa Nasr, director of the Economic Media Center, has urged local and international support to the bank’s new administration to succeed in putting into place economic policies and also demanded resuming the flow of oil and gas exports and reviving money-generating state bodies. “

Richard Oppenheim, British ambassador to Yemen, said the reshuffle of the bank’s administrative board would help the Yemeni government carry out vital reforms to steady the economy.

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 
Updated 24 min 26 sec ago

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

JEDDAH: Jeff Bezos has handed over $443 million to climate organizations as part of his $10 billion commitment to tackle global warming.

About $130 million is allocated to help the Justice40 initiative, an environmentally focused effort by President Joe Biden’s administration, according to Bloomberg.

Another $261 million will fund a plan to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, concentrating on the Congo Basin and tropical Andes. 

The world’s second-richest person gave out $791 million to 16 organizations last year, promising to distribute the full $10 billion amount by 2030, Bloomberg reported.

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 
Updated 36 min 17 sec ago

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

RIYADH: Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has announced a $100 million deal with Abu Dhabi’s Chimera for investment in Egypt’s real estate.

Through its subsidiary, Chimera subscribed to a capital increase in Egypt’s Gemini Global Development in return for acquiring a minority stake in the company, Asharq reported.

This capital increase aims to develop and expand the real estate activities of Gemini Global Development Egypt through Ora Developers.

Naguib Sawiris said Ora Developers has always aimed to search for opportunities that expand their offerings to a larger base of customers in various markets, while partnering with global investors, contractors and retailers. 

“Through this partnership, Chimera continues to grow and further enhance its global portfolio by investing in a prominent player operating in a high growth sector in Egypt,” Chimera Chairman Syed Basar Shueb said. 

BitMart pledges to compensate users for $150m hack: Crypto Wrap

BitMart pledges to compensate users for $150m hack: Crypto Wrap
Updated 58 min 18 sec ago

BitMart pledges to compensate users for $150m hack: Crypto Wrap

BitMart pledges to compensate users for $150m hack: Crypto Wrap

RIYADH: Crypto exchange BitMart has experienced a security breach that has led to hackers withdrawing around $150 million in cryptocurrency, Bloomberg reported.

Blockchain security firm PeckShield estimates the total loss could run as high as $200 million.

Last week, BitMart closed a Series B funding round led by New York-based private equity firm Alexander Capital Ventures that valued the crypto exchange at more than $300 million.

BitMart will use its own funding to compensate users affected by this hack, according to CEO Sheldon Xia's tweet.

“No user assets will be harmed,” he tweeted, adding the company expects to resume deposit and withdrawal functions on Tuesday.

Also last week, crypto lender Celsius network, which has raised funds from major investors including Canadian pension fund Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, confirmed that it lost funds as a result of the hack of BadgerDAO, a decentralized finance platform.


Authorities in Russia and Ukraine have shut down a number of farms involved in the illegal mining of cryptocurrencies allegedly powered by stolen electricity.

"An audit revealed an unauthorized connection to the power grid, theft of electricity and illegal seizure of land for the operation of equipment designed to perform cryptographic calculations related to the mining of digital currencies," Ekaterina Korotkova from the Moscow Interregional Transport Prosecutor’s Office said.

The cost of illegally consumed electricity used to operate mining equipment exceeds 500,000 rubles per day ($7,000), Korotkova explained.

The authorities have filed a criminal case and intend to prosecute the owners of the crypto-mining facility.


Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in trading internationally, traded higher on Tuesday, rising by 5.39 percent to $51,010 at 4:43 p.m Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, traded at $4,355, up 7.47 percent, according to data from Coindesk.