Stocks, sterling rally after UK’s tax climbdown injects some confidence

Stocks, sterling rally after UK’s tax climbdown injects some confidence
UK Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has rowed back from plans to hand a tax break to the country's top earners (AFP)
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Updated 04 October 2022

Stocks, sterling rally after UK’s tax climbdown injects some confidence

Stocks, sterling rally after UK’s tax climbdown injects some confidence

LONDON: Global stocks climbed for a second day on Tuesday, after Britain’s decision to ditch part of a controversial tax-cut plan and slightly paler expectations for aggressive central bank action returned some confidence to investors, according to Reuters.

UK Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng on Monday announced the government would back down on reversing a tax break for top earners that formed part of a package aimed at boosting growth.

This measure only makes up a small part of the £45 billion ($51b billion) in unfunded tax cuts that sent the pound crashing to record lows and wreaked havoc in the gilts market.

But it was enough to soothe some of the recent angst in the market and, together with emergency bond buying from the Bank of England, sterling was set to make up most of the losses incurred since the mini budget was unveiled on Sept. 23.

Adding to the sense of relief among investors, who endured one of the most volatile quarters in recent history in the three months to September, was Australia’s central bank, which lifted interest rates by far less than expected.

A weaker read of US manufacturing activity helped temper expectations for more hefty rate rises by the Federal Reserve.

However, some analysts said this optimism may be misplaced.

“My firm view, however, is that this will not be the case. While, technically, having a dual mandate, the Fed have effectively become a single-issue central bank; that issue being bringing inflation back to the 2 percent target,” Michael Brown, chief strategist at CaxtonFX, said.

“Unless we see a few months of consecutive improvement in inflation data, it’s tough to envisage any sort of pivot, with another 75 bps hike remaining my base case for next month’s decision. It’s tough to be long risk with that on the radar.”

The MSCI All-World index was last up 0.8 percent on the day, while stocks in Europe enjoyed a decent bounce, with the Stoxx 600 trading almost 2 percent higher and London’s FTSE gaining over 1 percent.

The pound, meanwhile, gained 0.6 percent against the dollar to trade at $1.1390. Sterling has risen by more than 10 percent since the mini-budget.

The dollar slid against a basket of major currencies, as the euro and the pound made upward headway and Treasury yields slipped in light of a shift in investor expectations for the path of US interest rates.

US benchmark 10-year yields fell by nearly 20 basis points on Monday, having topped 4.0 percent just last week. They were last down 7 bps at 3.5795 percent.

“Noticeably, that move lower was entirely driven by a fall in real yields, with inflation breakevens moving higher on the day, which is again a sign that investors are pricing in a much less aggressive reaction from the Fed,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said in a daily note.

In trade thinned by holidays in China and Hong Kong, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.7 percent, led by gains in Australia.

After September, when global bonds witnessed one of the biggest sell-offs in decades and any currency other than the dollar appeared to crumble, market watchers said a snap back, aided by better sentiment in the UK market, was not unusual, but would likely be short-lived.

“The about-face ... will not have a huge impact on the overall UK fiscal situation in our view,” said NatWest Markets’ head of economics and markets strategy John Briggs.

“(But) investors took it as a signal that the UK government could and is at least partially willing to walk back from its intentions that so disrupted markets over the past week.”

S&P 500 futures rose 1 percent, following a 2.6 percent bounce for the index overnight, suggesting a second day of gains may be in the offing on Wall Street later.

Other indicators of market stress are still flashing red. The CBOE Volatility Index remains elevated and above 30. Shares and bonds of Credit Suisse hit record lows on Monday as worry about the bank’s restructuring plans swept markets, although some of these losses reversed on Tuesday.

Japan’s yen hit 145 to the dollar on Monday — a level that prompted official intervention last week — and was last at 144.65, while the euro was up 0.6 percent at $0.9878, about three cents above last week’s 20-year trough.

“More volatility is almost certainly assured as FX markets re-focus on US recession risks, which continue to build,” said ANZ senior economist Miles Workman, with US jobs data on Friday the next major data point on the horizon.

Oil held overnight gains on news of possible production cuts, and Brent futures were last up 43 cents to $89.29 a barrel.

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 
Updated 06 December 2022

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index recovered on Tuesday after registering a massive fall on Monday, signaling the surging volatility in the market. 

The Tadawul All Share Index on Tuesday gained 25 points to close at 10,444.27 points after touching a low of 10,282.81 at 10:31 a.m. Saudi time. The recovery came close on the heels of the 304 points crash the bourse witnessed on Monday. 

The parallel market Nomu, however, could not match the pace with the TASI momentum and fell nearly 291 points to close at 18,506.03. 

The advance-decline ratio was pegged positively, with 109 stocks of the listed 219 heading north and 91 turning south. The total trading turnover was SR4.96 billion ($1.32 billion). 

According to market sources, investors were pessimistic about the Saudi market as they expected the earnings might not meet the historical growth it booked. 

The Saudi market is trading at a price-earnings ratio of 13.2x, which is relatively lower than its three-year average PE of 25.8x. 

On Tuesday, financial market tracker Argaam reported that shares of 39 Saudi-listed firms, including Saudi Telecom Co., Al Rajhi Bank and units of two real estate investment trust funds, hit their lowest levels in 52 weeks on Tuesday. 

The stocks that fell the most during this period included United Cooperative Assurance Co., which declined by 78 percent to SR7.6 and CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. by 58 percent to SR15.32. 

Other stocks included Malath Cooperative Insurance Co., which fell by 57 percent to SR10.88, Tabuk Agricultural Development Co. declined by 51 percent to SR51.3, while Red Sea International Co. dropped by 48 percent to SR23.18. 

On a positive note, however, information and communications technology firm Perfect Presentation for Commercial Services Co. on Tuesday announced a cash dividend of SR0.7 for the third quarter of the fiscal year, distributing a total of SR10.5 million. The company’s share closed 1.42 percent higher at SR156.70. 

The National Agricultural Development Co. also disclosed the launch of its strategic plan to the exchange, including expanding its leadership in dairy, juice, food, and agricultural products across new markets. The share price of the company tipped lower to touch SR22.76. 

The Saudi Exchange also celebrated the listing of AlRajhi Bank Tier 1 Sukuk. AlRajhi Bank is one of the world’s largest Islamic banks by market cap, with a strong presence in the Kingdom. 

“The addition of AlRajhi Bank Sukuk to the Saudi Exchange is another step toward diversifying the products available to local, regional and international investors, in line with our commitment to Vision 2030 and its Financial Sector Development Program,” said Mohammed Al-Rumaih, CEO of Saudi Exchange. 

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 
Updated 06 December 2022

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

RIYADH:  The number of small and medium-sized enterprises in Saudi Arabia jumped 9.3 percent in the third quarter of 2022, driven by strong economic growth and a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kingdom, according to latest government figures.  

A report released by the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, known as Monsha’at, showed the number of firms reached 978,445 in the three months to the end of September, up from 892,063 in the second quarter.  

The Monsha’at report pointed out that venture capital funding in Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2022 witnessed a 93 percent year-on-year increase totaling at SR3.1 billion ($820 million).  

According to Monsha’at, policy changes which have been implemented in the Kingdom since 2016 are one of the reasons behind the surge in the number of SMEs.  

“By increasing access to capital and offering and increased upskilling and specialized training to help people grow their businesses, entrepreneurial culture has taken root in the Kingdom,” said Monsha’at in the report.  

The report further noted that dedicated policies to invest in emerging technologies have also triggered innovation and job creation in the SME sector.  

Investments in the fintech sector were strong in the third quarter, with 22 deals signaling a 266 percent year-on-year rise, the report said.  

Renewable energy, tourism, and agricultural sectors are driving SME growth in the Al-Jouf province, with the province’s close proximity to the Jordanian market also spurring new business creation across multiple sectors.  

The report noted that initiatives and increased investments in the information and communication technology sector have also led to new SME growth in the Kingdom.  

“Monsha’at’s Thakaa Center is investing SR335 million to help over 90 tech startups and 250 SMEs integrate advanced technologies into their business,” the report added.  

The Monsha’at report for the third quarter came after Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund announced the start of operations at the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, aimed at bridging the finance gap in the SME sector.  

The launch of the new bank is expected to help the SME sector contribute as much as 35 percent to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. 

Some other goals Monsha’at is trying to materialize by 2030 include lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.  

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA
Updated 06 December 2022

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

RIYADH: Global renewable power capacity is expected to double over the next five years primarily driven by energy security concerns caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the International Energy Agency. 

In its annual report on the outlook of renewables, the organization noted that the capacity of renewables globally is expected to grow by 2,400 gigawatts over the 2022-2027 period, an amount equal to the entire power capacity of China today. 

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalize on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said the IEA's executive director Fatih Birol. 

According to IEA, this massive rise in the renewables sector is 30 percent higher than the amount of growth that was forecast just a year ago, which indicates the fact that governments all across the world are quickly embracing sustainable energy measures for a better future. 

The report further pointed out that renewables are set to account for over 90 percent of global electricity expansion over the next five years, overtaking coal to become the largest source of global power by early 2025.

Birol added: “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. Renewables’ continued acceleration is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.”

The report added that global solar photovoltaic capacity is expected to almost triple by 2027, becoming the largest source of power capacity in the world, while wind capacity is set to double in the same period. 

The IEA also noted that global biofuel demand is set to expand by 22 percent over the 2022-2027 period. 

“Together, wind and solar will account for over 90 percent of the renewable power capacity that is added over the next five years,” the IEA added. 

According to the report, Europe is leading the energy transition from the front as EU nations are looking to rapidly replace Russian gas with alternatives post the conflict in Ukraine. 

The report added that countries like China, US and India are implementing policies and introducing regulatory and market reforms to combat a possible energy crisis.

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant
Updated 06 December 2022

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

RIYADH: Environmental management firm Veolia Near & Middle East has joined forces with Emirates Waste to Energy to operate and maintain the Sharjah waste-to-energy plant, touted to be the first in the region.

A joint venture between Sharjah environmental management company Beeah and Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar, Emirates Waste to Energy can process 300,000 tons of municipal waste every year along with producing 30 megawatts of low carbon energy — sufficient enough to power up to 28,000 homes and offset up to 450,000 tons of CO2 emissions per annum, according to a press release.

Sharjah currently has a 76 percent landfill waste diversion rate and upon completion of this project it will enable that to be increased to 100 percent, thus making Sharjah the first zero waste-to-landfill cities in the Middle East.

“As part of our efforts to promote ecological transformation, Veolia is dedicated to diverting domestic waste away from landfill and to supporting the UAE’s push for green energy. This project helps achieve both goals, while being aligned with the UAE’s ambitious environmental vision,” said Pascal Grante, CEO of Veolia Near & Middle East.

Khaled Al-Huraimel, Group CEO of BEEAH Group, said the new venture with Veolia and Masdar is “another exciting development in our mission to shape a zero waste to landfill, net-zero emissions future in Sharjah and the UAE.”

He added: “Over the next 25 years, we will continue to build on our integrated waste management and zero waste-to-landfill ecosystem through the Sharjah Waste to Energy Plant.”

The waste management complex in the plant will recover a majority of the recyclable material from the waste it processes. Later, the remaining waste will be thermally treated, and the heat produced from the process will be applied to a boiler, which will produce steam and drive a turbine to produce electricity, the press release noted.

Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi, CEO of Masdar said: “We will work together to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of the region’s first commercial-scale waste-to-energy facility, supporting Sharjah and the UAE in achieving their zero-waste and net-zero ambitions.”

Saudi-Vietnamese trade ties boosted by Riyadh forum

Saudi-Vietnamese trade ties boosted by Riyadh forum
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi-Vietnamese trade ties boosted by Riyadh forum

Saudi-Vietnamese trade ties boosted by Riyadh forum

RIYADH: Saudi and Vietnamese business leaders from more than 40 companies met in Riyadh to discuss ways to increase their already flourishing health trade exchange volume, which stands at SR8.2 billion ($2.2bn).

The Saudi-Vietnamese Business Forum, held at the Federation of Saudi Chambers, saw the representatives of 21 Saudi companies and 20 from Vietnam discussing how to benefit from the opportunities provided by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Vice-chairman of the Saudi Regional Business Council for Southeast Asian Countries Abdulghani Al-Rumaih praised the Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee and its reflection on the volume of trade exchange, which amounted to about SR8.2 billion in 2021, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Saudi Arabia is a major market for the South-East Asian country and one of Vietnam’s important partners in the Middle East and Africa region. 

The Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee was launched in 2006 and it aims to discuss ways of cooperation in many areas that contribute to the development of the two countries.

Vietnam is among the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, with an average gross domestic product growth of between 6 and 7 percent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting comes in line with recent efforts by Saudi Arabia to increase linkages with international markets through establishing new bilateral organizations, as well as holding forums and meetings with countries including Finland, India, Uzbekistan, Thailand, France, Indonesia and Spain.

Speaking to Arab News earlier this year, Saad Al-Shahrani, the acting deputy minister for investment promotion in the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom achieved an 18 percent increase in foreign direct investment in 2020, even as the global FDI declined by 35 percent due to the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia has enacted over 600 economic reforms since the launch of the Vision 2030 blueprint in a bid to attract SR12.4 trillion of cumulative investment and SR1.8 trillion in foreign direct investment inflows between 2021 and 2030 as part of the National Investment Strategy.