Macro Snapshot — French unemployment slips to 14-year low; US retail sales increase strongly

Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 1974 at 3.7 percent in the first three months of this year. Reuters/File
Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 1974 at 3.7 percent in the first three months of this year. Reuters/File
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Updated 17 May 2022

Macro Snapshot — French unemployment slips to 14-year low; US retail sales increase strongly

Macro Snapshot — French unemployment slips to 14-year low; US retail sales increase strongly

RIYADH: Unemployment in France and Britain fell to their lowest since 2008 and 1974 respectively, whereas the Dutch economy recorded no growth as consumption levels dropped. 

French unemployment slips

Unemployment in France dipped slightly in the first quarter to the lowest rate in 14 years, official data showed on Tuesday, giving President Emmanuel Macron a boost ahead of legislative elections.

The unemployment rate slipped to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent in the previous three months, the INSEE statistics agency said. A Reuters poll of 10 economists had on average expected the rate to remain unchanged.

It was the lowest level of unemployment since the second quarter of 2008, apart from an anomalous, unrepresentative drop at the start of the pandemic when job seekers could not look for work during a nationwide lockdown.

Apart from during that period, unemployment has come down steadily since Macron first took office in 2017, when the jobless rate stood at 9.5 percent.

Beyond the headline decrease in joblessness, INSEE’s quarterly employment report showed that youth unemployment rose to 16.3 percent from 16.0 percent in the final quarter of last year, when it hit the lowest level since early 1981.

Meanwhile, the employment rate, the share of the workforce in work, rose to 68 percent from 67.8 percent in the previous quarter, reaching the highest level since INSEE began keeping records in 1975.

UK unemployment falls to lowest

Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 1974 at 3.7 percent in the first three months of this year, official figures showed on Tuesday, below economists’ forecasts for it to hold steady at 3.8 percent.

Average earnings, excluding bonuses, were 4.2 percent higher than a year earlier in the three months to March, above the average forecast in a Reuters poll for wage growth to hold at 4.1 percent.

Turkish house sales rise 

Turkish house sales rose 38.8 percent in April on the year to 133,058 houses, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute showed on Tuesday, with more than double the houses sold to Russians compared to a month ago as they sought a financial haven.

Sales to foreigners rose 58.1 percent, the institute said. Russian citizens rose to the top of the list in April with 1,152 houses from 547 in March. They were followed by Iranians and Iraqis.

Wealthy Russians are pouring money into real estate in Turkey and the UAE, seeking a financial haven in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions, many property companies say. 

The data also showed April mortgaged sales rose 82.9 percent from a year earlier to 32,030, accounting for 24.1 percent of the total sales in the period.

Dutch Q1 economic growth 

Growth of the Dutch economy stalled in the first three months of 2022, as consumer and government spending dropped compared with the previous quarter, a first estimate released on Tuesday showed.

The first quarter gross domestic product was unchanged from the last three months of 2021.

Nonetheless, the eurozone’s fifth largest economy was 7 percent larger than it had been in the same period a year earlier, when demand was crippled by a broad COVID-19 lockdown.

Economists on average had expected quarterly growth of 0.2 percent.

Government spending fell 4 percent in the first quarter, while consumer spending was 0.1 percent lower.

Indonesia posts trade surplus 

Indonesia’s trade surplus jumped to its largest ever at $7.56 billion in April, as exports rose to a record high while imports grew slower than expected, data from the statistics bureau showed on Tuesday.

Indonesia, a major exporter of many commodities such as thermal coal, palm oil and nickel, has reported a trade surplus every month in the past two years, enjoying an export boom and rising prices of commodities.

A Reuters poll had expected a trade surplus of $3.25 billion for April, following a $4.53 billion surplus the previous month.

Spain’s March trade deficit soars 

Spain’s trade deficit jumped 11-fold in March compared to the same month a year earlier to €4.64 billion ($4.86 billion), the Industry Ministry said on Tuesday.

Exports rose 17 percent to €33 billion, while imports increased 32 percent to €37.3 billion, the ministry said.

India’s WPI inflation  

India’s wholesale prices accelerated at the fastest pace in at least 17 years as the Ukraine war and a weak rupee pushed up energy and raw material costs, raising risks for businesses that are unable to pass on costs.

While big retailers, food makers and consumer product companies including Hindustan Unilever, Britania and Procter & Gamble are passing along higher costs to consumers, small companies are finding it hard to raise prices, industry leaders said.

Annual wholesale price inflation, a proxy for producers’ prices, climbed to 15.08 percent in April, remaining in double-digits for the 13th month in a row, and higher than 14.48 percent forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Wholesale prices are at the highest since at least April 2005, according to Refinitiv data. Some private economists said WPI inflation in April was the highest since 1991, according to an earlier series.

Economists said that with wholesale inflation picking up along with retail inflation at 7.79 percent in April — an eight-year high — the central bank was likely to push for aggressive rate hikes to tame prices. Higher rates will pose a drag on economic growth as well, they said.

“With WPI inflation remaining solidly in double-digits, the probability of a repo hike in the June 2022 review of monetary policy has risen further,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA, the Indian arm of ratings agency Moody’s.

US retail sales increase 

US retail sales increased solidly in April as consumers bought motor vehicles amid an improvement in supply and frequented restaurants, showing no signs of demand letting up despite high inflation.

Retail sales rose 0.9 percent last month, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. Data for March was revised higher to show sales advancing 1.4 percent instead of 0.7 percent as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales accelerating 0.9 percent, with estimates ranging from as low as 0.2 percent to as high as 2.0 percent. Last month’s increase reflects both strong demand and higher prices.

Retail sales are mostly goods, and are not adjusted for inflation, which appears to have peaked in April. Bars and restaurants are the only services category in the report.

 

(With input from Reuters) 


SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking
Updated 10 sec ago

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

RIYADH: The Saudi British Bank has appointed Yasser Ali Al-Barrak as its new CEO for corporate and institutional banking from this month.

The appointment of Al-Barrak will take effect on July 1, the bank said in a press statement.

Al-Barrak joined SABB in 2012 and has held many leadership positions, most recently being the general manager of global corporate and institutional banking, the statement said.

“The appointment of Yasser is a testament to the success of career growth plans at SABB, which is a major player in managing our most valuable assets, our people,” said SABB Managing Director & CEO Tony Cripps.

Established in 1978, SABB is an associate of the HSBC Group and a Saudi joint-stock company. It was named Saudi’s best bank for 2022, the statement added.

The bank provides retail, corporate, investment, private, and treasury services and has a paid-up capital of SR20.5 billion ($5.46 billion).


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations
Updated 51 min 10 sec ago

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency worldwide, traded lower on Sunday, falling by 0.93 percent to $19,033.92 at 9 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,057.11, rising by 1.15 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

Voyager Digital suspends withdrawals and deposits 

To preserve its platform’s value, Voyager Digital on Friday announced it had suspended withdrawals, trading, and deposits, according to Reuters. 

A default notice was issued to embattled hedge fund Three Arrows Capital just days earlier for the fund’s failure to make required payments.

According to Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich, the move gives the company more time to consider strategic alternatives with various interested parties while preserving its value.

The company announced that it had hired financial advisers Moelis & Co., Consello Group, and legal advisers Kirkland & Ellis LLP “to support its exploration of strategic alternatives.”

Voyager’s crypto assets are worth $685 million, compared to the more than $1.12 billion it has lent in crypto assets. The company said it lent $350 million and 15,250 bitcoins to 3AC. 

Voyager’s move comes less than a month after Celsius Network suspended withdrawals due to extreme market conditions. Customers of Celsius have not yet been able to withdraw money again.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Saudi mall operator Abdullah Al Othaim cancels IPO plans 

Saudi mall operator Abdullah Al Othaim cancels IPO plans 
Updated 03 July 2022

Saudi mall operator Abdullah Al Othaim cancels IPO plans 

Saudi mall operator Abdullah Al Othaim cancels IPO plans 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Othaim Markets Co. has canceled plans to sell shares of its mall business to the public, the company said in a bourse filing.

The group halted initial public offering plans for Abdullah Al Othaim Investment Co. due to concerns over valuation and market volatility.

Arab News earlier reported that the group had selected GIB Capital to manage an IPO of a 30-percent stake in the Kingdom’s stock market. 

Known as Al Othaim Malls, the firm specializes in the construction, management and operation of shopping malls, entertainment centers, restaurants and cinemas.

 


OPEC secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo joins Atlantic Council 

OPEC secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo joins Atlantic Council 
Updated 03 July 2022

OPEC secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo joins Atlantic Council 

OPEC secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo joins Atlantic Council 

RIYADH: Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, secretary general for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, will join the Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow in the Global Energy Center.

Barkindo will take part in the Atlantic Council after the conclusion of his term at OPEC on July 31, according to a statement. 

Serving as OPEC’s secretary general for six years, Barkindo has also played a crucial role in enhancing the cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries on stabilizing oil markets. 

The fellowship at the Atlantic Council comes amid an unprecedented rise in energy prices driven by geopolitical tensions, climate change impacts, and volatile markets.

“Barkindo brings a deep understanding of geopolitics in a volatile world that will further enhance the Atlantic Council’s approach to shaping solutions to global energy-security challenges,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council.

The Washington-based center promotes energy security by working alongside governments, industry leaders, civil society, and public stakeholders.

Barkindo said: “I look forward to contributing to the organization’s work on a plethora of energy-related issues, at a time when the world’s eyes are focused on both short- and long-term energy market outlooks.”

 


TASI begins July in green following a dismal June: Opening bell

TASI begins July in green following a dismal June: Opening bell
Updated 03 July 2022

TASI begins July in green following a dismal June: Opening bell

TASI begins July in green following a dismal June: Opening bell

RIYADH: Saudi stocks started their first trading session of July in green, following a dismal performance in June when the market lost 11 percent.

As of Sunday’s opening bell, TASI gained 0.60 percent to reach 11,591, while the parallel market, Nomu, added 0.17 percent to 21,622, as of 10:05 a.m. Saudi time.

This was led by a 3.03 percent gain in one of the Kingdom’s biggest lenders Saudi National Bank and a 0.26 percent gain in oil giant Aramco. 

Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. gained 3.37 percent to lead the gainers, while Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co. slipped 2.51 percent to lead the fallers.

In the financial sector, the Kingdom’s largest valued bank Al Rajhi edged up 0.85 percent, while Alinma Bank climbed 0.90 percent.

Al Moammar Information Systems Co. added 2.22 percent, after being awarded SR34 million ($9 million) by Saudi Co. for Comprehensive Technical and Security Control as well as SR21.9 million by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Co. edged down 0.19 percent, after reporting that it canceled the initial public offering plans for its malls unit.

Oil prices closed Friday with US West Texas Intermediate crude at $108.43 per barrel and Brent crude at $111.63 per barrel.