Oil rises to fresh multi-year highs on demand recovery

Oil rises to fresh multi-year highs on demand recovery
Brent crude futures were 21 cents higher at $72.73 a barrel. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 June 2021

Oil rises to fresh multi-year highs on demand recovery

Oil rises to fresh multi-year highs on demand recovery
  • IAEA said OPEC+ would need to boost output to meet demand
  • Road traffic is returning to pre-COVID-19 levels in North America and Europe

LONDON: Oil prices rose on Friday to fresh multi-year highs and were set for their third weekly jump on expectations of a recovery in fuel demand in Europe, China and the United States as rising vaccination rates lead to an easing of pandemic curbs.
Brent crude futures edged up 21 cents to $72.73 a barrel to 8:10 a.m. GMT, after closing at its highest since May 2019 on Thursday.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 17 cents to $70.46 a barrel, after climbing on Thursday to its highest close since October 2018.
US investment bank Goldman Sachs expects Brent crude prices to reach $80 per barrel this summer as vaccination rollouts boost global economic activity.
The International Energy Agency said in its monthly report that OPEC+ oil producers would need to boost output to meet demand set to recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.
“OPEC+ needs to open the taps to keep the world oil markets adequately supplied,” the Paris-based energy watchdog said.
It said that rising demand and countries’ short-term policies were at odds with the IEA’s call to end new oil, gas and coal funding.
“In 2022 there is scope for the 24-member OPEC+ group, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to ramp up crude supply by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) above its July 2021-March 2022 target,” the IEA said.
Data showing road traffic returning to pre-COVID-19 levels in North America and most of Europe was encouraging, ANZ Research analysts said in a note.
“Even the jet fuel market is showing signs of improvement, with flights in Europe rising 17 percent over the past two weeks, according to Eurocontrol,” ANZ analysts said.


Maple Invest delays buyout of Dubai developer DAMAC

Maple Invest delays buyout of Dubai developer DAMAC
Updated 5 min 2 sec ago

Maple Invest delays buyout of Dubai developer DAMAC

Maple Invest delays buyout of Dubai developer DAMAC
  • It has appointed an independent valuer and financial adviser to help determine the fairness of the offer from the perspective of shareholders

DUBAI: Investment company Maple Invest, owned by tycoon Hussain Sajwani, has delayed the potential buyout of DAMAC, the developer said in a bourse filing.

It earlier offered to take the Dubai developer, which is behind some of the emirate’s glitziest property projects, private at a 45 percent discount to its offer price in 2015 when it went public.

On Monday, the investment company said it hired advisers following the $599m plan.
The company founded by tycoon Hussein Sajwani said on Sunday it has appointed an independent valuer and financial adviser to help determine the fairness of the offer from the perspective of shareholders, the company said in a filing to the Dubai Financial Market.
DAMAC said on Sunday it had also appointed Al Tamimi & Co. as an external legal adviser and that the supplemental offer document would be published by the end of the month.
The developer said that there would be no change to the rights of customers who had paid for projects that had not yet been delivered.
The planned de-listing of DAMAC is seen as a blow for the Dubai Financial Market amid amid increased competition from other regional bourses in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.


US seeks to extradite Turkish businessman over fraud charges

US seeks to extradite Turkish businessman over fraud charges
Updated 21 min 14 sec ago

US seeks to extradite Turkish businessman over fraud charges

US seeks to extradite Turkish businessman over fraud charges
  • Korkmaz and co-conspirators allegedly used the proceeds from the scheme to buy the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland and a yacht named the Queen Anne

WASHINGTON: The United States will seek to extradite a Turkish businessman from Austria so he can appear before a US judge in Utah, where he is facing charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and wire fraud, the US Justice Department said.
Sezgin Baran Korkmaz laundered more than $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Korkmaz, it said, was arrested in Austria on Saturday at the department’s request following the unsealing of a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Reuters was not immediately able to identify Korkmaz’s lawyers for comment.
The businessman is also being investigated by Turkey, where prosecutors in December detained 10 executives working at Korkmaz’s companies, after Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) said the companies were used for money laundering, Turkish state-news agency Anadolu reported.
The Turkish ambassador to Austria told Dogan News agency on Sunday that Korkmaz was detained on Saturday in a town about 260 km (160 miles) from Vienna and that Turkey had initiated an extradition process with Austrian authorities.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry did not return a call for comment.
It was not immediately clear where Korkmaz would be extradited. He is believed to have left Turkey in December before the police raids.
US prosecutors say the fraud proceeds stemmed from a scheme involving the filing of false claims for more than $1 billion in renewable fuel tax credits for the production and sale of biodiesel by Utah-based Washakie Renewable Energy.
Washakie could not immediately be reached for comment.
Korkmaz and co-conspirators allegedly used the proceeds from the scheme to buy the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht named the Queen Anne and a villa and an apartment on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Justice Department said.

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Global stocks, US yields recoup some losses

Global stocks, US yields recoup some losses
Updated 22 June 2021

Global stocks, US yields recoup some losses

Global stocks, US yields recoup some losses
  • Investors still digesting last week’s surprise hawkish shift by the US Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON: US stocks were higher on Monday and global stocks advanced in choppy trade after hitting a four-week low earlier in the session, with investors still digesting last week’s surprise hawkish shift by the US Federal Reserve.

The US dollar retreated from Friday’s 10-week high. Yields on 10-year Treasuries turned higher after sliding overnight to a four-month low of 1.354 percent. But the benchmark note was still trading well below its recent mid-point range of about 1.6 percent after traders reacted to Federal Reserve expectations for a rate hike.

Shares of banks, energy firms and other companies that tend to be sensitive to the economy’s fluctuations were higher, recovering some losses after have fallen sharply since the Fed’s meeting on Wednesday, when the central bank caught investors off guard by anticipating two quarter-percentage-point rate increases in 2023.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.45 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.2 percent.

“Bulls are attempting to regroup this morning after last Friday’s plunge,” Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group said in a market note.

Stocks in Asia took their cue from Wall Street’s falls on Friday but European shares bucked the trend, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index up 0.6 percent.

“The situation in reality is actually pretty good — the Fed is stabilizing inflation,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management in Luxembourg. “Cyclical sectors may have overshot the market in the short term and so you may have a bit of pressure on the sector.”

Galy noted the “interesting part” of the correction was that it lagged as traders digested the news.

MSCI’s All Country World Index, which tracks shares across 49 countries, was up 0.5 percent after hitting its lowest since May 24.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei led declines with an over 3 percent drop and dipped below 28,000 for the first time in a month, while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.2 percent.

The US dollar index was down 0.4 percent, off Friday’s 10-week high of 92.408, following its biggest weekly advance in more than a year.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard further fueled the sell-off on Friday by saying the shift toward faster policy tightening was a “natural” response to economic growth and particularly inflation moving quicker than anticipated as the country reopens from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We believe there is a limit to how much more hawkish the Fed can be given its inflation projections relative to the catch-up rates range,” BlackRock analysts said in a note.

“Our bottom line: We believe the Fed’s new outlook will not translate into significantly higher policy rates any time soon.”

Several Fed officials have speaking duties this week, including Chair Jerome Powell, who testifies before Congress on Tuesday. 

The euro was up 0.46 percent to $1.1915. Sterling recovered some ground, to trade 0.9 percent higher after sliding to its lowest since April 16.

Commodity-linked currencies have also suffered, with the Australian dollar hovering above a six-month low at $0.7495.

A stronger greenback has pressured cryptocurrencies, too, with Bitcoin falling 7.7 percent, while smaller rival Ether lost 11 percent.

In commodities, gold rebounded 1.0 percent to $1,781.41 an ounce on Monday, looking to snap a six-day losing streak, but remained near the lowest since early May.

Copper continued to fall on Monday, hitting its lowest level since mid-April after moves by China to rein in commodities price rallies and signals from the US Federal Reserve it will tighten monetary policy sooner than expected. 

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was down 0.8 percent at $9,070 a ton in official trading, after touching $9,011.

Crude oil rose, underpinned by strong demand during the summer driving season and a pause in talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal that could indicate a delay in resumption of supplies from the OPEC producer. Brent crude futures rose to $74.48 a barrel, up 1.32 percent on the day, as Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 1.9 percent to $73.


Startup of the Week: The Graze Board; Bringing together foods of every color and flavor

Startup of the Week: The Graze Board; Bringing together foods of every color and flavor
Updated 22 June 2021

Startup of the Week: The Graze Board; Bringing together foods of every color and flavor

Startup of the Week: The Graze Board; Bringing together foods of every color and flavor

JEDDAH: The Graze Board, established in 2019, is the first company in Jeddah offering cheese platters and charcuterie boards, presenting fresh, top-quality food in an artistic way.

It was founded by Heba Abed and her 15-year-old daughter Joory Khudary. Abed describes the family business as a “luxury catering brand.”

She said: “All employees of The Graze Board are either family or close friends. We keep the circle small so that we keep the secrets of The Graze Board a mystery.” The offerings are a combination of savory and sweet, with cheese, bread, vegetables and fruits. The boards look like a multi-color palette, with a variety of vibrant foods.

The business started with a tradition where Abed’s family members would gather together each week and bring cheese boards to share.

“We discussed that we should start it as a business. The Graze Board believes that family and friends cherish the moment they spend together eating meals in the dining room,” Abed said.

The family puts love and effort into each board, she said: “We choose the finest kinds of cheese, for instance. We also use the freshest bread we can find. The Graze Board creates a unique art piece from simple ingredients in each board.”

Many of the The Graze Board’s clients are repeat customers, too. “We have gained many loyal customers,” Abed said.

But the business did face some initial challenges, as the idea of cheese platters was fresh to the Kingdom and not many people understood the concept at first. “The biggest challenge was how to convince and attract customers to see, try, love and re-order our boards,” Abed added.

The Graze Board operates as a delivery service to clients, but Abed said that the company has ambitious plans to open a physical branch and spread across the Kingdom.


Wa’ed boosts investment in digital mapping startup

Wa’ed boosts investment in digital mapping startup
Updated 21 June 2021

Wa’ed boosts investment in digital mapping startup

Wa’ed boosts investment in digital mapping startup
  • Online applications for all Saudi-based entrepreneurs opened on Wednesday last week

RIYADH: Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco, has boosted its investment in a digital mapping and indoor navigation startup in a bid to help it expand globally.

Alkhobar-based NearMotion provides mobile navigation tools for airports, hospitals, shopping malls, museums, theme parks and event stadiums, allowing users to get real-time information and services. This will be Wa’ed’s second investment in the company, having previously backed it in 2016.

Some of the startup’s clients include Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare in Dhahran, Dallah Hospital in Riyadh and MediClinic Middle East in Dubai.

The company also won a SR1.2 million ($320,000) contract for digital mapping services at the Saudi Ministry of Education’s 200,000 square-meter headquarters in Riyadh.

“We initially invested in NearMotion because its technology was unique and game-changing, and its success in the [Gulf Cooperation Council] has shown this,” Wassim Basrawi, managing director of Wa’ed, said in a statement. “With this second investment, we aim to help globalize this exciting Saudi success story.”

Wa’ed was established by Saudi Aramco in 2011 to offer loan financing activities to entrepreneurs, while its Wa’ed Ventures venture capital arm oversees a $200 million investment fund and a portfolio of more than 30 Saudi-based companies.

Wa’ed last week launched its first roadshow event to unearth and fund the next generation of Saudi entrepreneurs. With up to SR100 million at its disposal, Wa’ed is planning to hand out loans and venture capital investments to commercially feasible ventures that would fill existing gaps in the Kingdom’s economy.

The roadshow will visit Jubail, Yanbu, Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. Online applications for all Saudi-based entrepreneurs opened on Wednesday last week.

“Seventy out of over 100 startups we supported were the first of their kind and received their first-ever investment from us, and this is what we are targeting now: Distinguished and not yet supported startups and ideas,” Basrawi said.