Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high
Riyadh city landscape (Shutterstock)
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Updated 20 January 2022

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

RIYADH: A hike in residential land prices prompted real estate prices in Saudi Arabia to rise by an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the final quarter of 2021, according to data by Gastat.

This is the highest level since the first quarter of 2020 as prices of residential land plots went up, causing the sub-index of residential real estate prices to go up by 1.7 percent.

Other components of this sub-index – which includes costs of buildings, villa, apartments and houses – all underwent negative inflation.

Meanwhile, commercial and agricultural real estate prices fell from a year ago by 0.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, balancing the effect on the overall index.

In quarterly terms, real estate prices in the Kingdom ticked up by 0.5 percent induced by, again, the household real estate sub-index which grew by 0.7 percent.


Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat nears record peak; UN warns on child nutrition due to price hikes

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat nears record peak; UN warns on child nutrition due to price hikes
Updated 25 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat nears record peak; UN warns on child nutrition due to price hikes

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat nears record peak; UN warns on child nutrition due to price hikes

RIYADH: Gold prices were little changed on Tuesday, as a pullback in the dollar supported demand for greenback-priced bullion and countered pressure from a recovery in US Treasury yields.  

Spot gold was last up 0.1 percent at $1,825.29 per ounce, as of 2.18 a.m. GMT, while US gold futures gained 0.6 percent to $1,825.60. 

Spot silver dropped 0.2 percent to $21.56 per ounce, while platinum was flat at $945.76. 

Palladium fell 1.2 percent to $2,002.17. 

Wheat up on supply worries

Chicago wheat futures on Tuesday neared a record peak set in March, after the US Department of Agriculture reported a worsening condition of the winter crop, deepening supply worries in an already-tight market.

The significance of US crops has risen after the Russian invasion of Ukraine hampered shipments from the key Black Sea region, and India unexpectedly closed its doors on wheat exports.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade rose as much as 2.2 percent to $12.75 a bushel, the highest since March 8, when it hit a record high of $13.64.

CBOT corn was down 0.5 percent at $8.05-1/4 a bushel as of 0204 GMT, after touching a two-week peak in the previous session.

CBOT soybeans were 0.1 percent higher at $16.58 a bushel.

London copper at near 1-week high

Prices of London copper, often used to gauge global economic health, rose to a nearly one-week high on Tuesday, as top metals consumer China’s decision to ease some COVID-19 restrictions fueled expectations of a recovery in demand.

Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.1 percent at $9,338 a ton, as of 0504 GMT, after hitting its highest since May 11 at $9,341.50.

The most-active June copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.8 percent to $10,573.36 a ton by the midday break.

UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ child malnutrition due to price hikes, Ukraine war

The cost of life-saving treatment for the most severely malnourished children is set to jump by up to 16 percent, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pandemic disruptions, according to the United Nations’ children’s agency.

The raw ingredients of the ready-to-eat-therapeutic food have leapt in price, amid the global food crisis sparked by the war and pandemic, UNICEF said.

Without further funding in the next six months, 600,000 more children may miss out on the essential treatment, which is a high-energy paste made of ingredients including peanuts, oil, sugar and added nutrients.

UNICEF did not specify how much increased spending would be needed to maintain the program. It said a carton of the specialized nutrition containing 150 packets — enough for 6 to 8 weeks to bring a severely malnourished child back to health — goes for about $41 on average.

Alongside the wider pressure on food security, including climate change, the price rise could lead to “catastrophic” levels of severe malnutrition, the children’s agency warned in a statement.

“The world is rapidly becoming a virtual tinderbox of preventable child deaths and child suffering from wasting,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

(With input from Reuters) 


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edges up; Bank of France Governor issues warning; Grayscale to launch digital assets ETF

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edges up; Bank of France Governor issues warning; Grayscale to launch digital assets ETF
Updated 16 min 49 sec ago

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edges up; Bank of France Governor issues warning; Grayscale to launch digital assets ETF

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edges up; Bank of France Governor issues warning; Grayscale to launch digital assets ETF

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Tuesday, up 0.20 percent to $30,418 as of 08:52 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,077, up 0.32 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Bank of France Governor issues dire warning

Meanwhile, following the cryptocurrency crash last week, Bank of France Governor, Francois Villeroy de Galhau told a conference on Monday that crypto assets could disrupt the international financial system if they were not regulated and made interoperable in a consistent and appropriate manner across jurisdictions.

He pointed to stablecoins, which he said were somewhat misnamed, as among the sources of risk.

Speaking separately, Fabio Panetta, member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, also said on Monday that stablecoins were vulnerable to runs.

The US Federal Reserve had warned last week that stablecoins were vulnerable to investor runs, because they were backed by assets that could lose value or become illiquid in times of market stress.

Jupiter, Yarbrough among investors who sold Coinbase before big fall

Jupiter Asset Management, Azora Capital LP and billionaire Jon Yarbrough’s family office were among funds that sold all of their stakes in cryptocurrency company Coinbase Global Inc., before the company fell nearly 30 percent to record lows in early May, according to filings released on Monday.

But over the same period — the quarter ended March 31 — Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation fund continued to add to its position in Coinbase, the filings showed.

Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the United States, tumbled after the company missed earnings estimates and reported declining trading volumes as the value of bitcoin fell near 17-month lows. Shares in the company fell 3.6 percent on Monday and are now down 74 percent for the year to date.

Jupiter Asset Management sold 73,441 shares of the company in the quarter that ended March 31, while Azora Capital sold 43,290 shares and Yarbrough Capital sold 16,968, according to securities filings.

Tiger Global, meanwhile, cut its stake by approximately 70 percent, leaving it with 836,597 shares in the company.

Grayscale to launch digital assets ETF in UK, Italy, Germany

Grayscale will list an exchange-traded fund in Europe made up of companies representing the “Future of Finance,” the world’s largest cryptocurrency asset manager said in a statement on Monday. 

The ETF, tracking the “Bloomberg Grayscale Future of Finance Index,” will be listed on the London Stock Exchange, Italy’s Borsa Italiana and Germany’s Deutsche Börse Xetra and begin trading on May 17. It is the first time that US-based Grayscale has listed a fund in Europe.

The index contains a mixture of companies involved in digital currencies including asset managers, exchanges, brokers, technology firms, as well as firms directly involved in cryptocurrency mining.

“For us, the digital economy is primarily being driven through the proliferation of digital assets,” said Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein.

(With input from Reuters) 


India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban
Updated 19 min 22 sec ago

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; US expresses concerns over wheat export ban

MUMBAI: Indian shares extended gains to a second session on Tuesday, supported by metal stocks.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 1.36 percent to 16,057.70, as of 0508 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex gained 1.09 percent to 53,553.72, after snapping a six-session losing streak on Monday.

LIC falls in market debut

Shares in Life Insurance Corp. of India slid 5 percent in their market debut on Tuesday, a fresh setback for the state-owned giant after its initial public offering, while record-breaking, raised far less for the government than initially envisioned.

The country’s biggest insurer and its largest domestic financial investor was trading at around 900 rupees ($11.6) per share on Tuesday morning compared with its IPO price of 949 rupees, valuing it at around 5.7 trillion rupees or $73 billion.

The share price decline is in line with a slump in the broader market since LIC’s IPO opened for subscription on May 4.

“We were not expecting big, as markets were jittery, expect it to pick up,” LIC Chairman M. R. Kumar told reporters.

At one point on Tuesday, LIC shares plunged as much as 9 percent before paring losses.

The government had raised roughly $2.7 billion from selling a 3.5 percent stake in LIC.

 

US concerned over wheat export ban

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday he has “deep concern” about India’s wheat export ban, which spurred a rally in already elevated wheat prices.

“What we need is transparency in the market, what we need is a market that is helping to get goods to those who are in need,” Vilsack said on a call with journalists.

 

(With input from Reuters)


France's Engie agrees deal with Russia's Gazprom on gas payments

France's Engie agrees deal with Russia's Gazprom on gas payments
Updated 40 min 7 sec ago

France's Engie agrees deal with Russia's Gazprom on gas payments

France's Engie agrees deal with Russia's Gazprom on gas payments
  • Engie declined to comment on whether this meant the utility had opened, or planned to open, an account with Gazprombank

French power company Engie said on Tuesday it has reached an agreement with Gazprom on its scheme to pay for Russian gas in roubles, and at the same time reported higher first-quarter profits and raised its 2022 financial targets.

Engie shares were up 5.4 percent to 12.26 euros at 0733 GMT taking them to the top of France's CAC 40 Index.

CEO Catherine MacGregor told a call with reporters that Engie and Gazprom have agreed on a solution in line with both companies' expectations in terms of currencies and with European sanctions.

Engie declined to comment on whether this meant the utility had opened, or planned to open, an account with Gazprombank.

MacGregor told reporters during the call that the next payments were "imminent".

The European Commission shared updated guidance with EU countries on Friday.

It confirmed previous advice that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening an account at a designated bank, and companies can pay for Russian gas — as long as they do so in the currency agreed in their existing contracts and declare the transaction completed when that currency is paid.

The energy group said in a statement that it has taken multiple actions to improve security of supply, including increasing volumes with existing suppliers and contracts with new suppliers, as well as adapting its hedging actions.

Engie said it has reduced its direct exposure to Gazprom from a maximum of 15 terawatt hours (TWh) to just under 5 TWh at the end of March.

In the context of rising power prices, which have increased following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it upgraded its 2022 financial guidance, saying it expects 2022 group share net recurring income of 3.8-4.4 billion euros ($3.97-$4.59 billion), versus a previous target of 3.1-3.3 billion euros.

Engie's revenue for the first quarter ending March 31 rose 85% from a year ago to 25.6 billion euros, while its earnings before interest (EBIT) grew 74% to 3.5 billion euros.
Analysts at JP Morgan said the first-quarter results were very strong.
"We believe that the company is very well on track to deliver: this will ultimately depend on a number of factors including power prices evolution and the evolution of Russia/Ukraine situation", they said in a note.


Saudi PIF cuts ownership of US-listed stocks 22% to $43.6bn in Q1

Saudi PIF cuts ownership of US-listed stocks 22% to $43.6bn in Q1
Updated 58 min 28 sec ago

Saudi PIF cuts ownership of US-listed stocks 22% to $43.6bn in Q1

Saudi PIF cuts ownership of US-listed stocks 22% to $43.6bn in Q1

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has reduced its ownership of US equities by 22 percent to $43.6 billion by the end of the first quarter of 2022, against $55.9 billion it held a quarter earlier.

PIF cut its stake in three companies —Visa Inc., Plug Power, and Walmart, Argaam reported, citing a filing by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

However, it increased its holdings in Take-Two Interactive, PayPal, Alibaba, and Farfetch Ltd.

While it exited its stake in Just Eat Takeaway.com, five new investments were made by the sovereign fund in Carnival, Babylon, SIGNA Sports United NV, Meta Platforms, and Sea Ltd.

Most recently, PIF announced the launch of Saudi Coffee Co., aimed at turning Saudi coffee beans into a global product with $320 million to be invested in the next 10 years.