A slowdown in economic growth in the US; unemployment falls in Western Europe: Economic wrap

A slowdown in economic growth in the US; unemployment falls in Western Europe: Economic wrap
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Updated 28 October 2021

A slowdown in economic growth in the US; unemployment falls in Western Europe: Economic wrap

A slowdown in economic growth in the US; unemployment falls in Western Europe: Economic wrap

Economic growth in the US slowed to an annualized 2 percent in the third quarter of 2021, dropping from the 6.7 percent expansion it experienced in the second quarter, an advance estimate by the country’s Bureau of Economic Analysis showed. 

This is the lowest rate since the second quarter of 2020 when the economy suffered a historic contraction.

Consumer spending faced a setback due to shortfalls in some commodities as a rise in Covid-19 infections meant that the global supply chain underwent disruptions.

US jobless claims

Initial unemployment claims in the United States declined to 288,000 in the week ending 23 October, data released by the US Department of Labor showed. This is fewer than last week’s figure of 291,000 claims and is the lowest level since 14 March 2020.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate stood at 1.7 percent for the week ending 16 October, falling by 0.1 percent from the previous week’s level. This rate measures the percentage of the number of people receiving unemployment insurance.

Unemployment in Western Europe

The German unemployment rate tapered off slightly in September, falling to 3.2 percent down from 3.3 percent in the previous month, Germany's Federal Statistics Office said. However, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Spain’s unemployment rate declined to 14.57 percent in this year’s third quarter, falling from 15.26 percent in the previous quarter, official data revealed. 

Japan's interest rates on hold

Japan’s central bank kept its rates unchanged for the short-term interest rate and 10-year government bond yields at -0.1 percent and around 0 percent respectively during its October meeting. 

The bank also cut its forecast for the rate of GDP growth for the current financial year to 3.4 percent down from July’s expectation of 3.8 percent.

Weak consumption and a slowdown in exports were mainly responsible for the downward revision.

As for 2022, the economic growth rate forecast was favorably altered to 2.9 percent compared to the previous 2.7 percent as vaccination rollouts gain momentum.

In addition, the bank slashed its consumer inflation estimate for the year ending March 2022 to zero compared to an earlier prediction of 0.6 percent, due to the impact of cellphone fee reductions and the change in the price index’s base year.

Looking at next year, the consumer inflation forecasts were the same at 0.9 percent.

Moreover, Japanese retail sales slipped by 0.6 percent year-on-year in September, compared to the previous month's much steeper fall of 3.2 percent. 

Spain’s inflation

Spain's annual inflation rate likely rose to 5.5 percent in October, according to a preliminary estimate by Spain's National Statistics Institute. This is a noticeable rise from the previous month’s 4 percent.

This is the biggest jump in consumer prices since September 1992 and was driven by soaring energy prices.

The annual core inflation rate, which excludes changes in volatile items, is also expected to reach a record 1.4 percent in October up from 1 percent in the previous month, a preliminary estimate showed.

In addition, consumer prices are predicted to rise 2 percent month-on-month, the highest since January 1986, after a 0.8 percent increase in September.

Brazil’s interest rate decision

For the sixth time this year, Brazil's central bank raised its interest rate by 150 basis points to reach 7.75 percent. At the start of the year, the interest rate in the country was just 2 percent.

This comes at a time when the country is grappling with double-digit inflation rates. The annual inflation rate for the country reached 10.3 percent in September. This is the second highest inflation rate among G20 countries, behind only Argentina.

Italy’s manufacturing and consumer confidence 

Italy's National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) said that the manufacturing confidence index rose to 114.9 points in October compared to 113.2 points in September. Outlook for orders and future production improved while expectations for inventory levels were more pessimistic.

Additionally, the consumer confidence index went down by 1.2 points in October to 118.4, down from 119.6 in the previous month.


Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe
Updated 12 sec ago

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

Russia’s Rosneft likely to export gas to Europe

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Rosneft and Gazprom to prepare a proposal for the former to export natural gas from Russia to Europe via pipelines, Interfax news agency reported.

The proposal, if approved, would end Gazprom’s monopoly on gas exports since 2006. The decision will be taken in cooperation with the government and the two energy companies.

According to Interfax, the joint proposal on a pilot project for Rosneft to export of up to 10 billion cubic meters of Russian piped gas to the European market should be submitted to Putin by March 1.

Allowing Rosneft to export gas from Russia will solve the problem with the full load of the Nord Stream 2 and OPAL pipelines, which Gazprom cannot fully use due to the norms of the Third Energy Package of the EU, Interfax said citing the company.

In August, earlier this year, Russia’s Kommersant reported that Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin asked Putin to allow the company to export 10 bcm of natural gas a year through an agency agreement with Gazprom. “The company does not have significant free volumes of gas right now and is planning to significantly increase production only in 2022,” Kommersant said in an article published on Aug. 27 without identifying the source.

In 2020, Rosneft produced 62.8 bcm of natural gas, 6 percent less than in 2019, according to the company’s annual report.

In November 2021, the company’s output of natural gas came in at 4 bcm, down 5.1 percent from October and up 10.8 percent from the same month a year ago, analysts at Renaissance Capital wrote in a research note published on Dec. 6.  


Egypt’s non-oil exports rise by 26% in year-to-October 

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise by 26% in year-to-October 
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 33 min 52 sec ago

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise by 26% in year-to-October 

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise by 26% in year-to-October 
  • Exports of chemicals and fertilizers rose by around 42 percent in the same period

Non-oil exports from Egypt reached $21.35 billion in the 10-month period to October, going up by 26 percent compared to the same period in 2020, according to a report by the country’s General Organization for Export and Import Control.

All industrial sectors recorded strong growth rates in the period despite the adverse effects of restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic, news site Mubasher reported.

Exports of chemicals and fertilizers rose by around 42 percent in the same period, hitting $5.36 billion while sales in the food industry grew by 19 percent to reach $3.43 billion.

In addition, outgoing shipments from the engineering industry grew by 43 percent to stand at $2.65 billion for the same January-October period.

Textile exports increased by 25 percent while those of agricultural crops rose by a more modest 8 percent.

In a related development, a member in Egypt's House of Representatives said that the national economy is capable of hitting around $100 billion of exports a year, according to Al Ahram Gate.


Oil dips below $75 as investors assess omicron’s impact

Oil dips below $75 as investors assess omicron’s impact
Updated 49 min 6 sec ago

Oil dips below $75 as investors assess omicron’s impact

Oil dips below $75 as investors assess omicron’s impact

LONDON: Oil prices fell below $75 a barrel on Wednesday, taking a breather after strong gains this week, as investors assessed the impact of the omicron coronavirus variant on the global economy and fuel demand.

Brent crude futures were down 83 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $74.61 a barrel at 1113 GMT, after settling 3.2 percent higher on Tuesday.

US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $71.07 a barrel, down 98 cents or 1.4 percent, having gained 3.7 percent in the previous session.

After falling by more than 16 percent since Nov. 25 to around $69 a barrel, Brent crude prices have rebounded by over 8 percent since Dec. 1 on signs omicron has had only a limited impact on oil demand.

“Around two-thirds of the previous price slide (has) been corrected, a downswing that had been brought about by demand concerns sparked by the new omicron variant. These now appear to be exaggerated,” Commerzbank said in a note.

“There has been no noticeable slowing effect on oil demand as yet. Even aviation, the sector that should have been hit first, has seen only a marginal decrease in seating capacity.”

But reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to tighten COVID restrictions, including advice to work from home, revived fears of a slow down in activity.

The market was also focused on rising geopolitical tensions as talks between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program were set to resume this week as Western officials voiced dismay at sweeping Iranian demands.

An easing of US sanctions is expected to lead to higher exports of Iranian oil, which could add downward pressure on oil prices.

Meanwhile, tensions between Western powers and Russia over Ukraine also remained high after President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the West would impose “strong economic and other measures”on Russia if it invades Ukraine, while Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand farther eastward.

Oil markets reacted little to US weekly inventory data.

US crude stocks fell last week while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast US crude inventory data would show a second straight weekly decline.


Saudi stock exchange has 50 IPO applications for 2022, considers SPAC listings

Saudi stock exchange has 50 IPO applications for 2022, considers SPAC listings
Updated 48 min 26 sec ago

Saudi stock exchange has 50 IPO applications for 2022, considers SPAC listings

Saudi stock exchange has 50 IPO applications for 2022, considers SPAC listings

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has 50 applications from companies for initial public offerings next year and is considering whether to allow blank-check companies, known as SPACs, to list, the Saudi Tadawul Group chief executive said on Wednesday.

A SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, raises money to acquire a private firm with the purpose of taking it public and allowing the target to list more quickly on an exchange rather than via a traditional IPO.

Khalid Al-Hussan, the CEO of bourse owner and operator Tadawul, said the exchange was discussing business models and assessing appetite for SPACs in the Kingdom, but added that no legal framework had been proposed as yet.

“We are looking very closely to this recent development (about SPACs) and we absolutely look forward to add this element to our market,” Al-Hussan said after Tadawul made the debut of its shares earlier in the day.

“We have to make sure that this vehicle is in demand by the investors as well as by the issuers,” he said.

The bourse, which raised about $1 billion through an IPO, priced its shares last week at the top of the range at SR105 each. 

“As far as the market momentum, I think the markets are still very solid, in regards to IPOs. It is just a fantastic time for us,” Al-Hussan said.


LG Energy Solution eyes $10.8bn in IPO

LG Energy Solution eyes $10.8bn in IPO
Updated 08 December 2021

LG Energy Solution eyes $10.8bn in IPO

LG Energy Solution eyes $10.8bn in IPO

RIYADH: Electric vehicle manufacturer LG Energy Solution aims to raise up to 12.75 trillion won ($10.8 billion) in what could be South Korea’s biggest initial public offering, Bloomberg reported. 

The company plans to issue 34 million shares at a price between 257,000 won and 300,000 won each. 

Stock trading will begin on Jan. 27, 2022 in which retail and institutional investors can subscribe on Jan. 18 and 19, with 20 percent shares allocated to the company’s employees, the IPO prospectus showed. 

The offering is expected to bring the battery maker’s market value to 70 trillion won, to top Samsung Life Insurance’s $4.4 billion in the 2010’s IPO — the country’s largest record to date. 

LG Energy could be South Korea’s third most valuable company after Samsung SDI Co. and SK Innovation Co., which are valued at 48 trillion won and 19 trillion won, respectively.