Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; Grains rise; Mexico to boost staple food output

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; Grains rise; Mexico to boost staple food output
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 1.1 percent at $10.88-3/4 a bushel
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Updated 05 May 2022

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; Grains rise; Mexico to boost staple food output

Commodities Update — Gold prices edge up; Grains rise; Mexico to boost staple food output

RIYADH: Gold prices climbed more than 1 percent on Thursday after US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell ruled out significant, aggressive interest rate hikes for the year as the central bank seeks to contain inflation without triggering an economic recession.

Rate hikes tend to lift bond yields, raising the opportunity cost of holding zero-yield bullion. Gold, which is also perceived as an inflation hedge, is now up for a third straight session in what could be its longest winning streak since mid-April.

Spot gold was up 1 percent at $1,900.38 per ounce, at 0548 GMT, after rising to its highest since April 29 earlier in the session. 

US gold futures gained 1.8 percent to $1,901.90.  

Silver inches further

Spot silver climbed 0.8 percent to $23.15 per ounce.

Platinum advanced 0.9 percent to $999.68, while palladium gained 0.7 percent to $2,270.79. 

Grains up

On Thursday, Chicago wheat futures gained more ground, rising more than 1 percent with prices underpinned by expectations of lower exports from India, which had stepped up sales in recent months to fill a supply gap left by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 1.1 percent at $10.88-3/4 a bushel at 0418 GMT, building on a 3 percent gain made in the last session.

Soybeans added 1.3 percent to $16.61 a bushel, and corn rose 0.7 percent to $7.99-1/2 a bushel.

Mexico to boost staple food output to curb inflation

Mexico will increase the production of staple foods such as corn, rice and beans as part of a plan agreed with business leaders to control consumer price inflation which is at a two-decade high, Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O said on Wednesday.

Ramirez spoke at a news conference alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who said the plan aimed to ensure fair prices for a basket of staple foods. Mexico was not planning to apply price controls, Lopez Obrador said.

The plan would be in place for six months and could be renewed if necessary and agreed with business leaders, said Ramirez. He expected a near-term impact on inflation expectations for basic goods.

Mexican annual inflation reached 7.72 percent in the first half of April, an over 20-year high that could prompt more interest rate increases by the central bank.

(With input from Reuters)


Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 
Updated 16 sec ago

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s current account balance has witnessed a 17.6 percent increase in the second quarter of 2022 to SR170.1 billion ($45.26 billion) , fueled by a rise in oil and non-oil exports, according to the Saudi Central Bank’s monthly bulletin.

The Kingdom’s exports of goods increased to SR272. 2 billion, showing a 23.1 percent surge from SR221.1 billion over the same period.  

Services such as transport and construction all witnessed declines over the second quarter of 2022, resulting in a 53.9 percent reduction in the sector.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets increased 2.4 percent from the first quarter of 2022, hitting SR4.9 trillion in the second quarter of 2022.

Portfolio investments — which include equity and investment fund shares and debt securities — slightly declined by 1.1 percent for the second month in a row, equating to 1.4 trillion by the end of June.

Trade credit, loans, and currency and deposits — which fall under the category of ‘other investments’ grew 2.9 percent to 1.1 trillion in this quarter, slowing down from a 9.6 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Inside the Kingdom, residential new mortgage loans to individuals soared 76.6 percent month-to-month, from SR7.2 billion in July to SR12.7 billion in August.

Moreover, consumer loans and credit card loans both increased 2.1 percent and 4.8 percent respectively from last month.

Consumer loans grew from SR436.5 billion in July to SR445.8 billion in August, and credit card loans increased from SR19.6 billion to SR20.5 billion over the same period.

As for Saudi Arabia’s total bank credit, it rose 1.6 percent — recording SR2.3 trillion worth of brank credit in the transition between July and August. 


TASI dives in September as recession fears mount: Monthly Recap

TASI dives in September as recession fears mount: Monthly Recap
Updated 57 min 46 sec ago

TASI dives in September as recession fears mount: Monthly Recap

TASI dives in September as recession fears mount: Monthly Recap

RIYADH: The Saudi main index ticked up on Thursday, but September still marked a dismal month for the stock exchange, marked by persistent inflation, unstable gas prices, and aggressive Fed hikes.

The Tadawul All Share Index ended September dropping 7 percent over the course of the month to reach 12,283 at the closing bell of Thursday’s session.  

This is despite closing the last session of September in green, with a 2.11 percent gain.

The monthly decline was led by a 9.23 percent drop in oil giant Saudi Aramco, and a 23.23 percent decline in Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co.

Also during the month, Saudi Arabia’s utility developer ACWA Power dropped 5.84 percent, while Saudi Electricity Co. declined 7.15 percent.

In the financial sector, the Kingdom’s highest valued bank, Al Rajhi, shed 12.29 percent, while Alinma Bank fell 9.09 percent.

The Saudi National Bank, the Kingdom’s largest lender and a major market player, dropped by 12.48 percent, while Saudi British Bank fell 9.52 percent,

Among the Kingdom’s information technology firms, Elm Co. decreased 5.16 percent, while Al Moammar Information Systems Co. declined 9.79 percent.

Saudi pharma operator Nahdi lost 3.83 percent for the month, while its rival Aldawaa Medical Services Co. gained 3.9 percent.

Dallah Healthcare Co. topped the month gainers with a 26.91 percent gain, while Mouwasat Medical Services Co. led the fallers with a 16.92 percent decline.

At the end of September, the main index dropped below 11000 for the first time in over 9 months in response to the Saudi Central Bank raising interest rates in line with the Fed's steep rate hike.

Speaking to Arab News, Saudi economist Ali Alhazmi said that the rate hike is not the only factor for this decline.

“The decline is also from the uncertainty about the global economics, or also the decline of growth and the existence of recession in major economies, especially the US and the EU,” he said, adding: “We cannot avoid the continued closure in China, which affects supply chains. We also have the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.”

Ultimately, he concluded that the market direction is unpredictable, but he anticipated the decline to continue this week.

Fawaz Al-Fawaz, a Saudi-based independent economist and columnist, believes that the market will continue to shift.

“The markets are likely to continue to be volatile and in jittery mode until inflation is under control.”


flynas launches direct flights to Mumbai from Riyadh and Dammam

flynas launches direct flights to Mumbai from Riyadh and Dammam
Updated 29 September 2022

flynas launches direct flights to Mumbai from Riyadh and Dammam

flynas launches direct flights to Mumbai from Riyadh and Dammam

RIYADH: Low-cost Saudi airline flynas has announced the launch of new direct flights from Riyadh and Dammam to Mumbai as the Kingdom’s aviation sector continues to expand.

flynas will operate flights from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport to Mumbai beginning Oct. 20, and flights from Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport will start from Oct. 31, according to a press release. 

The flights will be available on Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Earlier this year, during an exclusive interview with Arab News, CEO of flynas Bander Al-Mohanna said the strategic goal of the airline is to connect the world to the Kingdom to contribute to realizing the civil aviation strategic plan and achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

According to the civil aviation strategic plan, the Kingdom is aiming for 330 million passengers annually and 250 destinations around the world by 2030.

flynas recently announced the resumption of its direct flights between Jeddah and Karachi, starting from Oct. 30, with three weekly flights, on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays.

The press release noted that flynas has succeeded in increasing the number of aircraft to 38 in June 2022 compared to 25 in January 2021.

The low-cost airline also witnessed a surge in passenger traffic, as it carried about 4 million passengers during the first half of 2022 up from about 1.8 million in the same period last year.

Currently, flynas has more than 70 domestic and international destinations, and since its establishment in 2007, the airline has transported more than 60 million passengers.


Saudi Arabia scores record leap in UN’s E-Government Development Index ranking

Saudi Arabia scores record leap in UN’s E-Government Development Index ranking
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Arabia scores record leap in UN’s E-Government Development Index ranking

Saudi Arabia scores record leap in UN’s E-Government Development Index ranking

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has achieved the highest leap in the UN’s E-Government Development Index since its inception more than 20 years ago. 

The Kingdom has advanced 12 places, to be ranked 31st this year, compared to 43rd in 2020, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The index is considered to be an important international indicator that measures the extent of the development of digital governments in the areas of electronic services, communications, infrastructure and human capital worldwide.

The results of the EGDI were announced on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly in New York.

The Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology attributed the leaps to the efforts of the government agencies, and the adoption of modern digital solutions by launching many initiatives and products to serve the beneficiaries.

The Kingdom came among the best countries in the world in terms of providing government services information and sharing open government data to citizens and business sectors by 100 percent.

The report also praised the maturity of government digital organizations, reaching 96 percent, and the quality of digital specifications for government services, which scored  94 percent.

The availability and spread of digital government services reached 81 percent.

Saudi Arabia advanced 23 places globally in participation and electronic consultations directed to individuals and business sectors to explore their views on legislation and regulations with economic and social impact.

In February, digital transformation spending by Saudi Arabia reached SR12 billion ($3.19 billion) a year, according to Turki Al-Manea, executive director of investment at the Kingdom’s Digital Government Authority.

The money is being invested in cloud computing, new emerging technologies, and open source government software, Alarabiya reported.


Volkswagen prices Porsche shares at top tier range on strong demand

Volkswagen prices Porsche shares at top tier range on strong demand
Updated 29 September 2022

Volkswagen prices Porsche shares at top tier range on strong demand

Volkswagen prices Porsche shares at top tier range on strong demand

RIYADH: Volkswagen-owned Porsche is set to price its initial offering of stock at the high end of the planned range, Bloomberg reported

The share price was set at $80 per share, valuing the company at $73 billion, as it aims to pull off Europe’s largest initial public offering in a decade despite the turmoil in capital markets.

Porsche opens its Frankfurt stock market trading on Thursday, Sep. 29, for the first time.

The sale will help Volkswagen fund its electrification push, while investors get an emotional brand akin to Ferrari NV, which also separated from parent Fiat in 2015.

“If you can pull off an IPO in such a difficult market, it shows the attractiveness of the business,” Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois told Bloomberg.

“Porsche is a mature, well-known business that doesn’t need to raise capital. Putting it on the market as a fully formed business –- being able to pull that off is quite impressive.”

The company is targeting revenue of up to $37 billion this year and a return on sales of up to 18 percent, up two percentage points from last year. Returns are to climb above 20 percent in the long term.