Saudi non-oil economy climbs back to growth

Saudi non-oil economy climbs back to growth
Downtown Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 18, 2017. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi non-oil economy climbs back to growth

Saudi non-oil economy climbs back to growth
  • With oil output now being eased, the vaccine program gathering pace, GDP growth should get back on track
  • International Monetary Fund: Vision 2030 reforms helped Saudi Arabia navigate the pandemic recession

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy — the key focus of the Vision 2030 diversification strategy — has shown its first year-on-year growth since the beginning of the pandemic recession.

“Flash estimate” figures released by the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics (GAS) revealed that, after a strong start to 2021 in non-oil activities, that sector of the economy grew by 3.3 percent year-on-year, its first positive outcome on an annualized basis since last March, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the global economy.

Despite the robust performance from the non-oil sector, overall total gross domestic product (“real” GDP) was 3.3 percent down year-on-year.

The GAS explained: “The year-on-year change was the result of the sharp decrease in the oil activities of minus 12 percent due to ongoing crude oil production cuts agreed by OPEC+ since May 2020.”

In addition to cuts agreed by OPEC+, the oil producers’ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the Kingdom decided on an extra voluntary cut of one million barrels of oil per day last February.

Jason Tuvey, analyst at London-based consultant Capital Economics, said: “With oil output cuts now being eased and the vaccination program gathering pace, the economic recovery should get back on track over the rest of this year.”

“This robust outturn came despite a worsening COVID-19 outbreak over the course of the quarter that prompted a tightening of virus restrictions in March. The vaccination rollout has ramped up and the most vulnerable should have received at least their first dose by the end of May, paving the way for an easing of restrictions,” Tuvey said.

“High-frequency data show that mobility had almost returned to pre-virus levels last month before dropping off at the start of Ramadan. And the whole economy PMI (purchasers’ manufacturing index — a key measure of business confidence) picked up from 53.3 in March to 55.2 in April, the highest reading since January,” he added.

The first quarter figures — showing a 4 percent jump over the previous quarter — are a further boost to Saudi policymakers after a positive assessment by the International Monetary Fund last week, which said that the Vision 2030 reforms had helped it navigate the pandemic recession.

With the oil cuts due to end next year and crude prices rising, some experts think there is scope for further loosening of tight fiscal measures — such as the 15 percent value-added tax (VAT) rate — introduced during the pandemic.


Oil rebounds above $76 on speculation virus fear overrated

Oil rebounds above $76 on speculation virus fear overrated
Updated 30 November 2021

Oil rebounds above $76 on speculation virus fear overrated

Oil rebounds above $76 on speculation virus fear overrated

LONDON: Oil rebounded by more than 5 percent on Monday to above $76 a barrel as some investors viewed Friday’s slump in oil and financial markets as overdone while the world awaits more data on the omicron coronavirus variant.

Brent crude was up $3.66, or 5 percent, at $76.38 a barrel by 1444 GMT, having slid by $9.50 on Friday. US West Texas Intermediate crude was up $4.36, or 6.4%, at $72.51, having tumbled by $10.24 in the previous session.

“We saw some correction as Friday’s plunge in oil prices has been overdone,” said Tatsufumi Okoshi, a senior economist at Nomura Securities.

Friday’s slide, the biggest one-day drop since April 2020, reflected fears that travel bans would hammer demand. The plunge was exacerbated by low liquidity owing to a US holiday and the expected demand hit does not justify such a fall, analysts said.

“The fear factor had its grip on financial markets on Friday,” said Norbert Ruecker of Swiss bank Julius Baer. “Fundamentally, the announced and enacted international air travel constraints cannot explain such a sharp slump.”

A semblance of calm also returned to wider markets on Monday as investors awaited more information about the new variant. European and Wall Street shares rose while safe haven bonds lost ground.

“I can’t help but feel that Friday’s lows were probably the bargain of the year if you were an oil buyer, speculative or physical,” said Jeffrey Halley of brokerage OANDA.


Egypt to issue $604m of treasury bonds

Egypt to issue $604m of treasury bonds
Updated 29 November 2021

Egypt to issue $604m of treasury bonds

Egypt to issue $604m of treasury bonds

CAIRO: The Central Bank of Egypt will issue 9.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($604.3 million) in treasury bonds on Monday to finance the country’s budget deficit.

The T-bonds will be issued in coordination with the Finance Ministry.

In a statement posted on its website, the central bank said the value of the first offering is 8 billion pounds for two years. The value of the second offering is 1 billion pounds for 5 years and the value of the third offering is 500 million pounds for a period of 10 years.

The government borrows through bonds and treasury bills and government banks are the largest purchasers of these financial instruments.

The Ministry of Finance estimated the financing gap for the state’s general budget during 2021/2022 at about 1.06 trillion pounds, compared to 997.733 billion pounds during the last fiscal year, an increase of 6.31 percent, which will be financed through borrowing and issuance of securities.

Egypt had received $2.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund.

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Egypt decided to keep the overnight deposit and lending rate and the central bank’s main operation rate unchanged at 8.25 percent, 9.25 percent, and 8.75 percent, respectively.

Last month, the committee announced that the interest rate would be fixed for the seventh time in a row this year.


Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements with Pakistan worth $4.2 billion

Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements with Pakistan worth $4.2 billion
Updated 29 November 2021

Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements with Pakistan worth $4.2 billion

Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements with Pakistan worth $4.2 billion

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development on Monday signed two agreements worth $4.2 billion with Pakistan. The deals aim to support the Pakistani economy.

The first agreement includes a $ 3 billion deposit to the State Bank of Pakistan to support the country’s foreign currency reserve levels and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic. The second deal seeks to support Pakistan in financing oil derivatives trade with $1.2 billion.

Related


Thailand plans to boost tourism through bitcoin holders: Crypto wrap

Thailand plans to boost tourism through bitcoin holders: Crypto wrap
Updated 29 November 2021

Thailand plans to boost tourism through bitcoin holders: Crypto wrap

Thailand plans to boost tourism through bitcoin holders: Crypto wrap

RIYADH: The Tourism Authority of Thailand is working with the country’s regulators to make it easier and more convenient for visitors to spend cryptocurrency in the country, Bloomberg reported.

Thailand is laying the groundwork for becoming a positive crypto community with the aim of attracting cryptocurrency holders and promoting tourism in it.

The country is also hoping to recover some of the $80 billion in tourism revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

The plan is already being discussed with the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bank of Thailand, and Bitkub Online Co., the largest crypto exchange in the country.

The authority will create a new unit next year to handle the issuance of its crypto tokens, produce a wallet, and build a new tourism ecosystem, according to Bitcoin.com.

However, Thailand does not currently recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender.

Adoption

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, has revealed that he is buying more Bitcoin and ether in response to the alarming rise he sees in inflation.

Meanwhile, Blockchain protocol Moonlift has unveiled a new name and a new product release as part of a large-scale rebranding initiative.

The blockchain project will be known as MoonLift Capital and will launch a decentralized exchange that will enable token exchange and liquidity mining features, Bitcoin.com reported.

MoonLift is a community-driven project that aims to provide users with passive income using blockchain technology.

The blockchain protocol also provides a one-stop solution for upcoming crypto projects across marketing, fundraising, and community building services.

MoonLift Capital is also backed by numerous partners and advisors. One of the biggest names is the DeFi startup guide LaunchZone.

MoonLift Capital will offer new projects to Launchzone, providing them with a favorable position to launch their tokens via IDO.  

Daily trading

Bitcoin traded higher on Monday rising by 4.75 percent to $56,926 at 6:38 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether traded at $4,313, up 5.80 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.


Oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels despite omicron fears: Aramco CEO

Oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels despite omicron fears: Aramco CEO
Updated 29 November 2021

Oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels despite omicron fears: Aramco CEO

Oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels despite omicron fears: Aramco CEO

Dhahran: Aramco’s CEO is optimistic about oil demand growth next year despite fears over the new COVID-19 variant omicron. 

Oil demand will be over 100 million barrels per day in 2022, reaching pre-COVID19 levels, Amin Nasser told Arab News during a media briefing at the company's headquarter today.

On COVID-19’s new strain, he said that “the markets overreacted,” adding that the impact of omicron on demand cannot be measured without a full medical assessment.  

Nasser’s remarks came during a ceremony in Dhahran to kickoff development of the unconventional gas field Jafurah.