US inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6%

US inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6%
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Updated 10 June 2022

US inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6%

US inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6%

WASHINGTON: The costs of gas, food and other necessities jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.

Consumer prices surged 8.6 percent last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year surge of 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1 percent from April to May, a steep rise from the 0.3 percent increase from March to April. Much higher gas prices were to blame for most of that increase.

The US’s rampant inflation is imposing severe pressures on families, forcing them to pay much more for food, gas and rent and reducing their ability to afford discretionary items, from haircuts to electronics.

Lower-income and Black and Hispanic Americans, in particular, are struggling because, on average, a larger proportion of their income is consumed by necessities.

Economists do expect inflation to ease this year, though not by very much. Some analysts have forecast that the inflation gauge the government reported Friday — the consumer price index — may drop below 7 percent by year’s end.

In March, the year-over-year CPI reached 8.5 percent, the highest such rate since 1982.

High inflation has also forced the Federal Reserve into what will likely be the fastest series of interest rate hikes in three decades. By raising borrowing costs aggressively, the Fed hopes to cool spending and growth enough to curb inflation without tipping the economy into a recession. For the central bank, it will be a difficult balancing act.

Surveys show that Americans see high inflation as the nation’s top problem, and most disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy. Congressional Republicans are hammering Democrats on the issue in the run-up to midterm elections this fall.

Inflation has remained high even as the sources of rising prices have shifted. Initially, robust demand for goods from Americans who were stuck at home for months after COVID hit caused shortages and supply chain snarls and drove up prices for cars, furniture and appliances.

Now, as Americans resume spending on services, including travel, entertainment and dining out, the costs of airline tickets, hotel rooms and restaurant meals have soared. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further accelerated the prices of oil and natural gas.

And with China easing strict COVID lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere, more of its citizens are driving, thereby sending oil prices up even further.

Goods prices are expected to fall in the coming months. Many large retailers, including Target, Walmart and Macy’s, have reported that they’re now stuck with too much of the patio furniture, electronics and other goods that they ordered when those items were in heavier demand and will have to discount them.

Even so, rising gas prices are eroding the finances of millions of Americans. Prices at the pump are averaging nearly $5 a gallon nationally and edging closer to the inflation-adjusted record of about $5.40 reached in 2008.

Research by the Bank of America Institute, which uses anonymous data from millions of their customers’ credit and debit card accounts, shows spending on gas eating up a larger share of consumers’ budgets and crowding out their ability to buy other items.

For lower-income households — defined as those with incomes below $50,000 — spending on gas reached nearly 10 percent of all spending on credit and debit cards in the last week of May, the institute said in a report this week. That’s up from about 7.5 percent in February, a steep increase in such a short period.

Spending by all the bank’s customers on long-lasting goods, like furniture, electronics and home improvement, has plunged from a year ago, the institute found. But their spending on plane tickets, hotels and entertainment has continued to rise.

Economists have pointed to that shift in spending from goods to services as a trend that should help lower inflation by year’s end. But with wages rising steadily for many workers, prices are rising in services as well.


OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd

OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd
Updated 02 October 2022

OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd

OPEC+ may consider output cut of more than 1 million bpd
  • The figure is slightly above estimates for a cut given last week

RIYADH:  The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, also known as OPEC+, will consider an oil output cut of more than a million barrels per day when it meets on Oct. 5, OPEC sources told Reuters on Sunday.

The figure is slightly above estimates for a cut given last week, which ranged between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd.

OPEC+ is meeting in person in Vienna for the first time since March 2020. “It is a meeting that is taking place at a very interesting global time,” one of the sources said.

The output cuts are being considered on the back of a slide in oil prices from multiyear highs reached in March and market volatility. Saudi Arabia first flagged the possibility of cuts to correct the market in August.

Earlier this week, a source familiar with Russian thinking said Moscow could suggest a cut of up to 1 million bpd, while an OPEC source put the likely figure closer to 500,000 bpd. Talks are expected to continue ahead of the meeting.

FASTFACTS

OPEC+ is meeting in person in Vienna for the first time since March 2020.

Saudi Arabia first flagged the possibility of cuts to correct the market in August.

The output cuts are being considered on the back of a slide in oil prices from multiyear highs reached in March and market volatility.

India cuts tax

The Indian government has cut a windfall tax on domestically produced crude oil to 8,000 ($97.99) rupees per ton from 10,500 rupees per ton from Sunday, after a decline in global oil prices.

India has also scrapped an export tax on jet fuel and halved export duties on diesel to 5 rupees per liter from Sunday, a government notification said.

NNPC transaction

Nigeria’s state-owned oil company NNPC Ltd. has bought the marketing business of unlisted OVH Energy, giving it access to 380 fuel stations in Africa’s largest oil producer and Togo, among other assets, the two companies said on Saturday.

OVH Energy Marketing, the owner and operator of Oando branded retail service stations, said the outlets would be rebranded NNPC and full integration is expected by the end of 2023.

The deal also gives NNPC access to eight liquefied petroleum gas plants, three aviation depots and 12 warehouses.

NNPC, which became a commercial entity in July, already owns more than 500 fuel stations across Nigeria and said it would be ready for an initial public offering by mid-next year.


Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts

Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts

Saudi real GDP expected to rise by nearly 8 percent, say analysts
  • Inflation is predicted to be 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively: Al Rajhi Capital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s budgeted revenues for 2023 are likely to be based on the Brent price at $76 per barrel, said Al Rajhi Capital in its assessment of the Kingdom’s budget figures.  

“For 2023, we believe oil revenues could reach SR754 billion ($200.7 billion) and non-oil revenue at SR417 billion,” said the head of research at Al Rajhi Capital Mazen Al Sudairi.

“Based on our assessment, the government’s 2023 budgeted revenues are likely based on an assumption of brent at around $76 a barrel.” 

Real gross domestic product growth is forecast to increase by nearly 8 percent year-on-year in 2022 and 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to Al-Rajhi Capital.

Inflation is expected to be 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Al-Rajhi said.

Revised 2022 revenues are mostly in line with estimates, however, the expenditure budget is much higher than from an earlier announcement, it said.

The Kingdom’s Finance Ministry’s preliminary budget statement projected spending to reach SR1.11 trillion next year, with revenue of SR1.12 trillion. 

The 2023 spending budget was raised by 18 percent, with a slight fiscal surplus of SR9 billion expected for 2023.

The world’s largest oil exporter is expected to balance the books in the coming year, having emerged with a quickly developing balance sheet due to the rebound in crude. 

Saudi officials expressed intention to change the heavy reliance on petrodollars and “decouple” the Kingdom’s spending from oil volatility as it puts the country’s economy at the mercy of uncertainty in the oil market. 

Its budget surplus was recorded at SR78 billion in the second quarter of 2022, an almost 50 percent rise from the same time last year. 

Its revenue reached SR370.4 billion whereas expenditure totaled SR292.5 billion in the second quarter of this year, according to the ministry. 

The ministry’s estimates showed that oil revenue stood at SR250.4 billion, signaling an 89 percent year-on-year rise in the second quarter. 

However, the Kingdom’s non-oil revenues only rose by 3 percent to SR120 billion in the second quarter. 

Domestic debt reached SR604.8 billion at the end of June, up from SR558.8 billion in the previous half, showed the ministry data. 

The Finance Ministry’s data showed that the Kingdom’s external debt fell from SR379.3 billion to SR361.8 billion in the same period. 

The objectives of the state’s general budget for the fiscal year 2023 come as a continuation of the process of work to strengthen and develop the financial position of the Kingdom, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said.

“The government attaches great importance to enhancing the support and social protection system and accelerating the pace of strategic spending on Vision (2030) programs and major projects to support economic growth,” Al-Jadaan added.

The Kingdom’s economy has demonstrated its strength and durability by achieving high growth rates, after taking many policies and measures with the aim of protecting the economy from the repercussions of inflation and supply chain challenges, the minister said.


Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce forms new board for businesswomen council

Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce forms new board for businesswomen council
Updated 02 October 2022

Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce forms new board for businesswomen council

Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce forms new board for businesswomen council
  • Council enables female entrepreneurs to capitalize on business opportunities

ABU DHABI: The Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry has formed a new board for the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council, Emirates News Agency reported.

The new board’s mission is to help female entrepreneurs improve their skills, introduce them to relevant laws and policies, and teach them how to take advantage of local and federal government initiatives.

It is part of the chamber’s efforts to help businesswomen and female entrepreneurs in Abu Dhabi contribute to the emirate’s economic growth.

The ADBWC board, chaired by Asma Al-Fahim, is made up of Abu Dhabi Chamber board members as well as successful Abu Dhabi businesswomen such as Nour Al-Tamimi, Dr. Khadija Al-Ameri, Marwa Al-Mansoori and Shaikha Al-Nowais.

“Over the past 50 years, the UAE has placed women’s empowerment amongst its top priorities and supported the Emirati woman to be a key partner in building the UAE,” Al-Fahim said.

She added: “The support of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, president of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, supreme chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and honorary chairwoman of the ADBWC, played a huge role in women’s development in all fields, especially entrepreneurship. Thanks to H.H. Sheikha Fatima, the Emirati woman is now equipped with all the factors of success to occupy her proper place regionally and internationally.”

Al-Fahim added that the ADBWC is eager to increase communication with businesswomen in Abu Dhabi in order to keep them up to date on the latest economic changes.

Furthermore, Al-Fahim said that the council will launch new initiatives and programs to support the business environment, giving female entrepreneurs the necessary tools to capitalize on business opportunities locally, regionally and internationally.


Saudi Mouwasat completes $27m acquisition of 51% of Jeddah Doctors Co.

Saudi Mouwasat completes $27m acquisition of 51% of Jeddah Doctors Co.
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi Mouwasat completes $27m acquisition of 51% of Jeddah Doctors Co.

Saudi Mouwasat completes $27m acquisition of 51% of Jeddah Doctors Co.

RIYADH: Saudi healthcare provider Mouwasat Medical Services Co. said that it has completed the acquisition of 51 percent of Jeddah Doctors Co. in a deal worth SR102 million ($27 million).

The financial impact of this acquisition is expected to appear in the third quarter of 2022, according to a bourse filing.

Jeddah Doctors Co. is a Saudi closed joint stock company that owns a hospital presently under construction in Jeddah called Jeddah Doctors Hospital.


TASI in green as recession concerns ease: Closing bell

TASI in green as recession concerns ease: Closing bell
Updated 02 October 2022

TASI in green as recession concerns ease: Closing bell

TASI in green as recession concerns ease: Closing bell

RIYADH: The Saudi main index ticked up in its first trading session of October as investor recession fears subsided.

The Tadawul All Share Index ended  0.72 percent higher to reach 11,487; the parallel market Nomu edged 0.34 percent higher to 19,939.

Saudi oil giant Aramco ended with a 0.28 percent decline, while Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co. edged up 1.31 percent.

The Saudi National Bank, the Kingdom’s largest lender, fell 0.63 percent, while Saudi British Bank increased by 2.43 percent.

The Kingdom’s most valued bank Al Rajhi gained 1.48 percent, while Alinma Bank gained 1.93 percent.

Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. decreased by 0.19 percent, after it signed SR166 million ($44 million) agreement with Italy-based Toscotec for a raw tissue paper roll production line.

Retal Urban Development Co. dropped 0.28 percent, after its shareholders approved a cash dividend of SR2 per share for the first half of 2022.

Tihama Advertising and Public Relations Co. declined 1.61 percent to lead the fallers, after the company and UK-based WPP postponed their merger agreement until Oct. 31, 2022.

Middle East Healthcare Co. led the pack of gainers with an increase of 9.93 percent.