Oil falls $2 on reserve release, world stocks dip on war, recession worries: Reuters

Oil falls $2 on reserve release, world stocks dip on war, recession worries: Reuters
Recession risks are impacting global stock markets (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 April 2022

Oil falls $2 on reserve release, world stocks dip on war, recession worries: Reuters

Oil falls $2 on reserve release, world stocks dip on war, recession worries: Reuters
  • MSCI world index down 0.17 percent
  • US S&P futures down 0.29 percent
  • Oil heading for 14 percent fall this week

LONDON/SINGAPORE: World stocks dipped further from recent six-week highs on Friday on worries about the Russia-Ukraine war and recession risks, and oil fell $2 a barrel on reserve releases, Reuters is reporting.

European buyers of Russian gas faced a deadline to start paying in rubles on Friday, while negotiations aimed at ending the five-week war were set to resume even as Ukraine braced for further attacks in the south and east.

The move on gas by Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Western sanctions prompted Germany, the most reliant on Russian gas, to accuse him of “blackmail” as it activated an emergency plan that could lead to rationing.

“The recession risk of selected countries such as Germany from the stopping of gas delivery would be non-negligible,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.

Galy added: “Russia is essentially a petrol station. If a petrol station doesn’t sell its products, it goes bankrupt — they are not in a position of power.”

The war threatens also to disrupt global food supplies, with a US government official sharing images of what they said was damage to Ukrainian grain storage facilities.

MSCI’s global share index fell 0.17 percent to 710.22, against a high of 724.49 hit on Wednesday, heading for little change on the week.

US S&P futures rose 0.29 percent while European stocks and Britain’s FTSE 100 index were steady.

BoFA strategists said recession risks will “jump” in the coming months as a “bull era of central bank excess, Wall Street inflation (and) globalization (is) ending.”

In its place “a bear era of government intervention, social and political polarization, Main Street inflation & geopolitical isolationism (is) starting,” they added.

US and European shares notched their biggest quarterly drops since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the quarter that ended on March 31.

But the quarterly drop in US shares masked a late comeback in the S&P 500 index, which rallied from a near-13 percent decline to finish the quarter off about 5 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.34 percent on Friday.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei was down 0.56 percent, notching up a 1.7 percent weekly fall.

Supply disruption and surging raw material costs drove Japanese business confidence to a nine-month low last quarter, data on Friday showed.

Chinese blue-chips rose 1.27 percent, helped by hopes for policy easing.

Oil Prices

Oil prices continued to slide following an announcement on Thursday of huge releases from US strategic reserves and ahead of a Friday meeting of oil-consuming nations to discuss their own reserve releases.

US crude futures fell more than $2 a barrel to $98.17 and Brent futures were also down $2 at $102.66 a barrel.

Oil is on course for a 14 percent weekly fall — the sharpest in almost two years, after an earlier surge due largely to the Ukraine conflict had seen prices rise by more than 30 percent.

Investors are fretting over whether inflationary pressures will force central banks into aggressive rate hikes, potentially triggering recessions.

US March jobs data at 1230 GMT will be watched for indications of wage inflation, in addition to the headline jobs figure.

“Average hourly earnings are surging but less quickly than inflation,” said Galy.

The closely-watched spread between US two-year and 10-year notes is nearly zero.

An inversion in this part of the US yield curve is viewed as a reliable signal that a recession may follow in one to two years. Benchmark 10-year notes last yielded 2.4170 percent, while the two-year yield was at 2.4057 percent.

Global currencies

The dollar, which has benefited from safe-haven flows and expectations of rising US rates, remained firm. Against a basket of peers, the greenback was up 0.16 percent at 98.471, and it was up 0.67 percent against the yen at 122.48.

The euro was steady at $1.1060.

Euro zone March flash inflation data at 0900 GMT is forecast to give a reading of 6.6 percent, according to a Reuters poll, although inflation readings for countries within the bloc suggest it might surge even higher.

The German 10-year government bond yield, a benchmark for the euro zone, rose 5 basis points to 0.6 percent, after jumping 39 bps in March, its biggest monthly rise since 2009, on expectations of monetary tightening.

Safe-haven gold dipped 0.25 percent after its biggest quarterly gain in two years. Spot gold was last quoted at $1,932.34 per ounce.

- Reuters


Saudi Arabia sees 54% jumps in investment licenses to 4,358 in 2022  

Saudi Arabia sees 54% jumps in investment licenses to 4,358 in 2022  
Updated 22 sec ago

Saudi Arabia sees 54% jumps in investment licenses to 4,358 in 2022  

Saudi Arabia sees 54% jumps in investment licenses to 4,358 in 2022  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia issued 4,358 investment licenses in 2022, up 53.9 percent compared to 2021, as the Kingdom steadily emerges as an investment destination in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030.  

According to a monthly report from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Investment, the number of licenses approved in the fourth quarter of 2022, excluding those granted under the “Tasattur” anti-concealment campaign, rose 30.7 percent year-on-year to 1,276. 

“This increase reflects the growing position of Saudi Arabia as an attractive investment destination with competitive advantages including a stable and business-friendly investment environment,” said MISA in the report. 

The ministry further revealed that the government’s total revenues increased to SR283.8 billion ($75.64 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2022, recording 5.4 percent growth over the same period in 2021. 

MISA expects that figure to reach SR1.23 trillion in 2022, up by 27.8 percent on an annual basis. 

The government also managed to reduce its expenditures by 1.8 percent to SR331.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022 on an annual basis, the MISA data revealed.  

However, it expects government expenditures to reach about SR1.13 trillion in 2022, up by 9 percent compared to 2021. 

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, known as Tadawul All Share Index, showed a decrease of 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 on an annual basis, while the parallel market Nomu registered a decrease of 25.2 percent during the same period. 

The MISA report attributed the decrease in these indexes to global economic uncertainties and fluctuations in oil prices. 

Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate also rose to 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021. 

The MISA report attributed the rise in inflation rate to a number of factors including the increase in prices of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels by 5.6 percent, and food and beverages by 4.0 percent. 

The Kingdom’s Real Estate Price Index increased by 1.6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, primarily driven by the increase in the prices of residential real estate prices by 2.6 percent. 

According to the report, the Real Estate Price Index for the full year 2022 showed an increase of 1.1 percent on an annual basis.


Saudi Arabia’s regional maritime transshipment share hits 32% in boost for Vision 2030 goals: Minister 

Saudi Arabia’s regional maritime transshipment share hits 32% in boost for Vision 2030 goals: Minister 
Updated 28 min 53 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s regional maritime transshipment share hits 32% in boost for Vision 2030 goals: Minister 

Saudi Arabia’s regional maritime transshipment share hits 32% in boost for Vision 2030 goals: Minister 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s share of transshipment operations in the region has almost tripled in three years, according to the Kingdom’s Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser. 

The level rose to 32 percent in 2022, up from 12 percent three years prior, the minister revealed.

The Kingdom is aiming for a 50 percent regional share of transshipment - the act of off-loading a container from one ship and loading it onto another ship to its final destination – by the end of the decade as part of its Vision 2030 goals.

It also intends to have the largest share of transit maritime trade in the Red Sea, drawing in global transshipment operations to Saudi ports. 

“Seventeen international maritime lines were launched in the Kingdom, which increased the interconnection of ports and increased the process of exports, imports, and transportation through the Kingdom to other countries,” Al-Jasser told Asharq on the sidelines of the LEAP conference taking place in Riyadh. 

The Ministry also initiated the Unified Logistics Window on Monday to grant access to operational services in numerous languages across multiple entities from the country’s logistics ecosystem. 

Al-Jasser added that the platform will facilitate the beneficiary and improve the customer experience.  

While it currently comprises 70 transportation system services, the platform aspires to increase to 450 automated services in 2025. 

“What we are currently working on is re-engineering, facilitating, and unifying these services. The platform is intended for individuals, the business sector, and government agencies that are integrated with the transportation system,” added the minister.  

As for the Kingdom’s railway sector, the minister underlined that the expansion plans of the railways in the near future will focus on achieving connectivity both locally and in the region.  

The sectoral rail strategy is set to add around 8,000 km to the current rail network, which is  currently 5,500 km, according to Al-Jasser's statements to Asharq. 

Another main concern of this strategy is Saudi Arabia’s rail transport of goods – the total tons transported on trains in 2022 is equivalent to the displacement of almost two million trucks from the Kingdom’s roads. 


Technology, regulatory and cost factors to drive green transportation developments, say IEAA conference panelists

Technology, regulatory and cost factors to drive green transportation developments, say IEAA conference panelists
Updated 40 min 6 sec ago

Technology, regulatory and cost factors to drive green transportation developments, say IEAA conference panelists

Technology, regulatory and cost factors to drive green transportation developments, say IEAA conference panelists

RIYADH: The transport sector's dependency on fossil fuel has dropped by just 3 percent since the 1970s, Saudi Aramco's Transport Chief Technologist Amer Amer said as he emphasized the need to keep developing green fuels.

Speaking on the third day of the International Association for Energy Economics conference in Riyadh, Amer insisted there needs to be more effort put into technology development to ensure significant greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Amer said: “Improving the technology, not only on the engine side but also on reducing the carbon intensity of fuels that go into these vehicles, will result in an immediate reduction in greenhouse gasses. 

“Also, Saudi Aramco is working on direct air capture to bring the cost of this technology to less than $100 per tonne of CO2.”

His comments came during a panel session focused on the technology and regulatory options needed to deliver transport services, while meeting the challenges of resource use, emissions, cost, and impact on the urban environment.

Geetam Tiwari, professor of civil engineering, transportation research, and injury prevention program at IIT Delhi, used her appearance on the panel to warn that when creating transport systems, investing or relying only on technology innovation may not be the answer. 

“Many innovations happen because of setting targets by governments, regulations are required,” she said.

Tiwari used the example of electric buses to highlight the need for a pragmatic approach in this area.

“Instead of straight away emphasizing on a 100 per cent conversion to electric, we have to go slowly and understand all the barriers and problems that we are going to face,” she said. 

Gerardo Rabinovich, the previous president of the Latin American Association of Energy Economics used his remarks to warn about the high entry costs for consumers into green transportation.

“We have economic barriers already for the electric vehicle because the price of an electric vehicle for the people is 50 per cent more than the regular vehicle, and that needs fiscal incentive and maybe subsidies,” he said.

Andreas W. Schäfer, chair of energy and transport at the University College London Energy Institute, insisted that renewable technologies “must be market ready and deployable at scale by 2030.”

He warned against seeing liquid hydrogen – which is used in rocket fuel – as a potential resource in this area, as it would require major infrastructure transformation to make it viable. 

Topics being tackled at the forum, which runs from Feb. 4 to 9, including renewable energy opportunities and challenges, challenges facing the power sector in the MENA region, and the impact of oil price volatility on supply and investment.

The IAEE is a global non-profit organization formed in the US in 1977 and works to promote dialogue and the exchange of ideas around the economic analysis of energy resources.


COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber says he is listening, ready to engage

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber says he is listening, ready to engage
Updated 07 February 2023

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber says he is listening, ready to engage

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber says he is listening, ready to engage

BENGALURU: The UAE climate envoy and designated COP28 president said on Tuesday his country, which is due to host the summit later this year, was approaching the task with humility, responsibility and urgency. 

"It is not a conflict of interest. It is in our common interest to have the energy industry working alongside everyone on the solutions the world needs," Sultan al-Jaber, who is also head of the state oil giant ADNOC, said at the India Energy Week conference. "The UAE COP presidency is listening and ready to engage." 

Jaber's appointment to lead the climate summit this year fuelled activists' worries that big industry was hijacking the world's response to the global warming crisis. 

The UAE, a major OPEC oil exporter, will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt in 2022. 

The UAE and other Gulf energy producers have called for a realistic energy transition in which hydrocarbons would keep a role in energy security while making commitments to decarbonization. 

"We cannot unplug the current energy system before we have built the new one," said Jaber, who was the founding CEO of Abu Dhabi renewable energy firm Masdar before becoming ADNOC chief.

"We must minimize their carbon footprint, only invest in the least carbon-intensive barrels and continue to reduce their intensity," he added. 

Jaber also said developing nations had seen little justice so far when it comes to energy transition and pointed to capital needed to fully operationalize the loss and damage fund approved in COP27. 

The deal to create the fund was hailed as a breakthrough for developing country negotiators at the Egypt summit last year but climate activists have since complained that the fund remains empty of cash. 

The Nov. 20-Dec. 12 COP28 will be the first global stocktake since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. 

On Tuesday, Jaber said that eliminating energy poverty was essential alongside keeping the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. 

 

 


Tech firm Gameball raises $3.5m to fuel Saudi and international expansion

Tech firm Gameball raises $3.5m to fuel Saudi and international expansion
Updated 07 February 2023

Tech firm Gameball raises $3.5m to fuel Saudi and international expansion

Tech firm Gameball raises $3.5m to fuel Saudi and international expansion

CAIRO: US-headquartered customer relations management platform Gameball secured $3.5 million in a seed funding round to fuel its Saudi operations as well as expand to European countries. 

Founded in 2020, Gamball provides an all-in-one customer intelligence and marketing CRM platform for consumer brands to analyze customer behavior, leverage first-party data, identify monetization opportunities, and execute retention strategies. 

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Ahmed Khairy, CEO of Gameball, said that the company plans to utilize its funding to expand sales and partnerships as well as customer support activities in the Kingdom. 

“We are planning to expand our commercial and customer support activities in the Kingdom. Our model is that we build a network of channel partners in each country in which we operate. This allows us to scale fast while benefiting from these partners who have local market knowledge and expertise,” Khairy added. 

The company witnessed organic growth since its inception and received positive feedback from large and small businesses using their platform to leverage customer retention with Gameball customers witnessing a three times increase in purchase frequency. 

“Saudi Arabia has powered our growth and as brands leverage insights from digital platforms, they are turning to us,” he added. 

Since its inception, Gameball served over 7,000 businesses, 20 million consumers, and processes more than $260 million worth of transactions every month. 

“With Gameball, it’s easy for brands to kick-start their journey on our platform. We anticipate at least 50 big retailers signing up this year. This will complement our diverse range of clients from around the world,” Khairy stated. 

Khairy explained that the business is not resource intensive and will continue to hire based on its growth and client demand as he plans to hire experts in business development and account management to be based in their office in Riyadh.  

Gameball has targeted Germany and the UK as part of its international expansion while investing in commercializing its product. 

“While we’ve secured funding, we want to be prudent about how we spend our capital. Right away, we’ll be hiring Country Managers in each of those countries and as our business scales, we’ll recruit for additional positions,” Khairy told Arab News.