Global economy on the brink of recession, economists warn: Macro Snapshot

Global economy on the brink of recession, economists warn: Macro Snapshot
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Updated 21 March 2022

Global economy on the brink of recession, economists warn: Macro Snapshot

Global economy on the brink of recession, economists warn: Macro Snapshot

RIYADH: While the world is experiencing a current tightening cycle, economists warn that 13 of the past 16 tightening cycles resulted in recessions. 

Different countries across the world are experiencing different economic issues caused either due to higher oil prices or supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict.

The Egyptian pound dropped nearly 14 percent, Ghana’s central bank announced the biggest interest rate hike in a generation, and the Canadian dollar strengthened to its highest level in nearly two months against the greenback.

Recession 

Thirteen of the past sixteen tightening cycles resulted in recessions, and we’re in one, the independent macroeconomic research group Capital Economics said in its most recent publication.

According to Capital Economics, meetings of the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank showed that plans to tighten policy have not changed.

It predicts that the focus on regulating inflation and second-round impacts on wages and prices may end up tipping the economy into recession.

Since the late 1970s, the US, the UK and the later formed European Central Bank have collectively gone through 16 tightening cycles in total, “13 of which have ended in recession.”

Capital Economics explains the most probable reason behind why tightening cycles are followed by recession in current times; that is “that central banks allow inflation to spiral out of control — and then have to tighten policy aggressively, and drive the economy into recession, in order to bring it back down.”

“The question is whether their actions will create a recession anyway?“

The war’s impact on an already pandemic stricken economy shows that “the path for a soft landing is narrow.”

Egyptian pound devaluation 

Egyptian pound drops nearly 14 percent after Ukraine war prompts dollar flight.

Egypt’s pound depreciated by almost 14 percent on Monday after weeks of pressure on the currency as foreign investors pulled out billions of dollars from Egyptian treasury markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pound dropped to 18.17-18.27 against the dollar, Refinitiv data showed, after having traded at around 15.7 pounds to the dollar since November 2020.

The central bank also hiked overnight interest rates by 100 basis points in a surprise monetary policy meeting.

Egypt has been in discussions with the International Monetary Fund about possible assistance, people close to the negotiations have said, but it has not announced any formal request.

“This is a good move to make as the devaluation of the pound moves it roughly in line with its fair value and it could pave the way for a new IMF deal,” said James Swanston of Capital Economics.

“However, it will be key whether policymakers now allow the pound to float more freely or continue to manage it and allow external imbalances to build up once more, possibly resulting in future step devaluations like today’s in the future.”

Monday’s weakening of the pound could catalyze inflows of foreign currency, while investors who already had money in Egyptian treasuries would be unlikely to sell now, said Farouk Soussa, a senior economist at Goldman Sachs.

Ghana interest rate

Ghana’s central bank announced the biggest interest rate hike in a generation on Monday as it seeks to slow rampant inflation that threatens to create a debt crisis in one of West Africa’s largest economies.

The Bank of Ghana raised its main lending rate by 250 basis points to 17 percent, signaling an aggressive stance against the rocketing price of goods from flour to sugar to fuel, and against a depreciating local currency that has dented investor confidence.

It is the biggest hike in at least 20 years, according to government records, more than double the 100-basis-point rise predicted by a Reuters poll of 10 economists last week. 

Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened to its highest level in nearly two months against its US counterpart on Monday, as oil prices climbed and speculators raised bullish bets on the currency.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, jumped as EU nations considered joining the US in a Russian oil embargo and after a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities.

US crude prices were up 4.5 percent at $109.38 a barrel, while the Canadian dollar  edged 0.1 percent higher to 1.2590 per greenback, or 79.43 US cents. It touched its strongest intraday level since Jan. 26 at 1.2580.

Net long positions in the loonie increased to 17,740 contracts as of March 15 from 7,646 in the prior week, data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.

Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific Railway, Canada’s second-largest railroad, has shut down operations and locked out workers over a labor dispute, in a move that will likely disrupt shipments of key commodities at a time of soaring prices.

Canadian government bond yields were higher across a steeper curve, tracking the move in US Treasuries. The 10-year rate touched its highest level since December 2018 at 2.281 percent before dipping to 2.267 percent, up 7.4 basis points on the day.

Canada said it plans to issue its inaugural Canadian dollar-denominated green bond this week.

 

(With input from Reuters)


Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
Updated 30 January 2023

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
  • Strategy aims to grow the region’s GDP, attract companies

DUBAI: Dubai International Financial Centre announced the launch of the DIFC Metaverse Platform on Monday in a bid to attract technology innovators from across the globe, Emirates News Agency reported.

The platform is part of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to add $4 billion to the emirate’s GDP by 2030, support 40,000 virtual jobs, and attract 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies. 

The platform also supports the Dubai Economic Agenda’s goal of generating economic value worth $27 billion per year from digital transformation. 

Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications Omar bin Sultan Al Olama said that the metaverse platform is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering Dubai’s position as a global hub for the latest digital trends, and accelerating the pace of achieving the strategy’s objectives.

DIFC Authority CEO Arif Amiri said: “The Dubai government has shown great foresight in introducing a metaverse strategy that has the objective of making the emirate a global hub for technology and innovation.

“The development of the integrated DIFC Metaverse Platform will accelerate the achievements of Dubai’s aspirations in this sector.

“The initiative is a natural extension of our Innovation Hub proposition that has shaped the technology and innovation landscape in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.”

The DIFC Metaverse Platform includes an accelerator program with a physical studio for metaverse technology, which will foster the growth of a creator community and venture creation.

It will also work on metaverse policy development and legislation on open data, digital identity, and metaverse company law frameworks.


Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

RIYADH: Deposits in Saudi banks grew by 9 percent year-on-year to SR2.29 trillion ($609.97 billion) with the major chunk deposited by government agencies, the monthly bulletin issued by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, showed.

Data showed that deposits by government entities rose by 27 percent, the highest in 16 years, reaching SR651.2 billion.

Saudi-listed banks reported a 21 percent rise in aggregate net profit before zakat and tax to SR6.16 billion in December 2022, compared to SR5.11 billion a year earlier.

The data covered the results of Tadawul-listed banks and some foreign banks operating in Saudi Arabia.

Banks’ aggregate assets increased nearly 10 percent year-on-year to SR3.62 trillion in December.

Loans issued to individuals in the Kingdom saw a 14 percent surge during 2022 reaching SR1.17 trillion by the end of 2022 as compared to SR1.02 trillion by the end of 2021.

The volume of residential real estate financing for individuals declined by 21 percent in 2022 for the first time since 2016. The total volume remained at SR123.4 billion.

The SAMA report showed that remittances from Saudi Arabia fell by 7 percent during 2022 to SR143.2 billion while remittances to the Kingdom from citizens living abroad recorded a growth of 11 percent to reach SR7.25 billion.

Assets held by the central bank shrank by SR63.8 billion month-on-month to SR1.93 trillion in December 2022. However, as compared to December 2021, SAMA’s assets rose by SR85.1 billion.

The central bank’s investments in foreign securities, which make up 58 percent of its total assets, edged down 0.2 percent year-on-year to around SR1.13 trillion last month.


 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool
Updated 30 January 2023

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

RIYADH: The world’s largest technical conference “LEAP” has launched two competitions with a SR6 million ($1.5 million) prize pool aimed at rewarding Saudi-based startups and boosting cloud technologies.

Supported by the National Information Technology Development Program and the Misk Foundation, the Rocket Fuel competition aims to support new businesses, highlight entrepreneurial projects, and build innovative solutions that address technical challenges.

As many as 90 local startups will compete for a chance to be one of 15 to be awarded a share of SR4 million, with a top prize of almost SR940,000.

As for the Alibaba Cloud hackathon, it aims to enhance cloud technologies in the Kingdom through a number of various challenges that will be set up prior to the start of the conference. The competition offers cash prizes amounting to SR2 million.

LEAP, which is set to kick off its second edition in Riyadh from Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, is anticipating the participation of major government and private agencies as well as technology and communications companies.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, and UAE-based IT services and consulting firm Tahaluf.


ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 
Updated 30 January 2023

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

RIYADH: Saudi-based ACWA Power created the largest water desalination capacity in the company’s history in 2022, enabling it to serve 5.5 million more people in the Gulf Cooperation Council region every day.

The power generation firm added a record-breaking 2.4 million cm3/day of water desalination capacity, according to a press release, through four reverse osmosis megaprojects in the Middle East pushing ACWA power’s aggregate water capacity up to 6.4 million cubic meters. 

Saudi Arabia’s water giant currently manages 16 projects in four different nations, and fulfills almost 30 percent of the Kingdom’s overall water needs.  

Desalinated water produced by the company reaches 40 million people daily, according to the international consumption per household.  

“ACWA Power has been at the forefront in mitigating water resources challenges over the past decade and a half through innovative, resilient solutions that are benefitting millions of people across the world,” said Kashif Rana, chief portfolio management officer of ACWA Power. 

“Enhancing capacity is a significant milestone not only for us, but for our industry. I am confident that through our expertise we will continue to build water security reliably and responsibly for Saudi Arabia and the world,” he added. 

The release further noted that reverse osmosis technology has been incorporated in all of the company’s projects, which saves up to 80 percent more energy than the conventional processes.

ACWA Power is anticipated to boost its capacity by around 15 percent through developing three new desalination projects in 2023.  

“As the leading water desalination operator in the world today, managing 6.4 million m3/day of desalinated water at lowest possible cost, ACWA Power is continuing to bring an innovative, and practical change to the industry, as we have been doing since 2006,” said Dr. Tariq Nada, the vice president of Water and Technical Service at the company.


Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 
Updated 30 January 2023

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index fell 28.81 points — or 0.27 percent — on Monday to close at 10,810.68. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index ended flat at 1,492.97, the parallel market Nomu fell 27.67 points to 19,151.14. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Monday was SR5 billion ($1.33 billion), with 69 stocks of the listed 223 advancing and 135 retreating. 

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., also known as Cenomi Retail, was the topmost gainer of the day, rising 7.03 percent to SR18.88. 

The company was also the topmost gainer on Sunday as it rose 9.98 percent, following the announcement of its plans to divest 26 non-strategic brands to rationalize its brand portfolio. 

The franchisee retailer wants to focus on “champion brands” occupying the No. 1 or No. 2 positions in their sectors.  

The other top gainers were East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry, healthcare player Al Hammadi Holding, Al Kathiri Holding Co., and Allianz Saudi Fransi Cooperative Insurance Co. 

The worst performer on Monday was Alinma Hospitality REIT Fund, which fell 4.80 percent to SR9.52 on its debut after opening at SR9.25. 

The SR1.2 billion fund was listed on Monday at SR10 per unit, taking the total number of real estate investment trusts in the primary market to 18. 

Subscriptions to the fund’s units took place during the period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, 2022. A minimum of 50 units were allocated to each subscriber, while the remaining shares were allocated pro-rata.    

The other stocks that performed poorly included Halwani Bros. Co., Yanbu Cement Co., Allied Cooperative Insurance Group, and Mulkia Gulf Real Estate REIT. 

Among sectoral indices, 12 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while one stayed flat and the rest advanced. 

The Media and Entertainment Index was the worst-performing sector as it fell 2.01 percent to 22,423.88, weighed down by its vital constituent, Saudi Research, and Media Group, which stumbled 2.48 percent to SR189. 

The Software & Services Index was the best-performing index thanks to Elm Co., which jumped 3.08 percent to SR354.60. On the other hand, Al Moammar Information Systems Co. moved up 2.34 percent to SR96.20. The other gainers were Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. and Arab Sea Information System Co. 

On the announcements front, Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. informed the stock exchange that its shareholders approved on Jan. 29 the board of directors’ recommendation to repurchase up to 1 million treasury shares, not exceeding 5 percent of the issued capital. 

The decision came as the board and executive management saw that the share market price was less than its fair value. 

The repurchase will be financed from the company’s resources using its cash balances or credit facilities, the company said in the statement to Tadawul.