- Egypt’s balance of trade deficit decreased by 08 BN EGP (5.570 BN USD) or 35% y-o-y in the first four months of 2020. Increasing reliance on local products has contributed to narrowing the trade deficit.
- The Egyptian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA) has allocated 19 BN EGP (75.23 MM USD) in funding to 48,743 small and micro projects in 2020. The financing comes as part of efforts to combat the negative fallout of the coronavirus and its impact on the MSMEs.
- The Egyptian manpower minister, Mohamed Saafan, announced a new 150 MM EGP (9.48 MM USD) package to support around 140,000 regular workers in 1,200 The support is in line with the Egyptian president's directives to the Employees Emergency Fund to disburse salaries to the regular workers, namely in the tourism sector, which is affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
- In UAE, fuel prices will remain unchanged in June 2020 compared to prices in May. The per-liter prices of Super 98-octane gasoline, Special 95-octane gasoline, diesel, and E-Plus 91 will be maintained at 1.91 AED, 1.80 AED, 2.06 AED and 1.72 AED, respectively, including a 5% value-added tax (VAT).
- Banks operating in UAE increased their investments in bonds and stocks at the end of April as investors search for safe-haven investments amid the coronavirus outbreak. Investments of banks in debt instruments increased by 8 BN AED (490.07 MM USD) or 0.8% to 241.4 BN AED (65.7 BN USD) in April 2020 compared to 239.6 BN AED (65.23 BN USD) in April 2019.
- The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) announced that maximum of 30% of UAE employees returned to work in federal ministries, authorities, and institutions starting from Sunday, 31 May in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
- UAE Ministry of Finance (MoF) has announced three big decisions to ease the burden on investors and companies operating in the country. These included: reduction of fees for registering suppliers in the Federal Supplier Register at MoF and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development by 50% from 1,000 AED (272 USD) to 500 AED (136 USD) as well as cancellation of registration renewal fees. Furthermore, MoF has modified Procurement Regulation and Storehouse Management in Federal Government, by cancelling fees for selling tender documents in federal entities.
- Saudi Arabia trade balance showed a surplus of around 73 BN SAR (20.16 BN USD) in Q1-2020, as the total foreign trade volume of Saudi Arabia amounted to around 320 BN SAR (85.21 BN USD).
- The Kuwait Banking Association announced that banks will continue not operating but will keep providing all of their banking services to their customers through their electronic services, including financial transfers locally between banks and transfers abroad. Providing cash through ATMs, in addition to receiving customer inquiries through customer service numbers at banks will continue as usual.
- Curfews were imposed on major US cities as clashes over police brutality escalated across America with demonstrators ignoring warnings from President Donald Trump that his government would stop the violent protests “cold.” From Seattle to New York, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding tougher murder charges and more arrests over the death of Floyd, who stopped breathing after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
- Kuwaiti Member of Parliaments (MPs) presented a proposal with a law regarding the demographics. This problem linked to the coronavirus crisis as it was found that there are access marginal workers in Kuwait adding that overcrowded areas without health requirements clearly contributed to the spread of the epidemic in a manner that forced the Council of Ministers to impose a total isolation in these overcrowded areas.
- The main index of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) closed Thursday’s trading session on a negative note with the decline of blue chips such as First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) which slid by 89%. The general index decreased by 0.35% or 14.44 points to end at 4,119.32 points.
- The benchmark index of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) decreased by 15% or 23 points to end Thursday’s trading session at 1,961.48 points, dragged by falling blue chips led by Emaar Properties which dropped by 3.10%. The market cap value lost 2.53 BN AED (688.8 MM USD) to 285.02 BN AED (77.6 BN USD) on Thursday, compared to 287.55 BN AED (75.8 BN USD) in the previous session.
Note: last week, all the stock markets were off due to Eid Vacation.
These values are calculated on Thursday 21 of May.
- This year's Forbes Global 2000 list saw the inclusion of 40 companies from the Arab world in the magazine's ranking of the world's top 2,000 companies, based on assets, profits, revenues, and market value. Oil giant Saudi Aramco made its debut in the 5th place as the most valuable company in the world with a market value worth 6 TR USD, after completing the largest-ever IPO in the world last year. Aramco was also listed as the most profitable company worldwide with 88.2 BN USD in profits, and the only firm in the top 100 companies.
- The Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) approved a request from Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt to publish the disclosure form to proceed with its capital increase procedures. The disclosure form included the board of directors’ approval to raise the company’s issued capital by 02 MM USD to 506.2 MM USD from 440.19 MM USD.
- Arab Polvara Spinning and Weaving Company (Unirab) experienced a net loss of 360 MM EGP (402,310 USD) in Q1-2020, compared to posting a net profit of 1.054 MM EGP (66,672 USD) in Q1 2019.
- Arafa Holding (AIVC) posted a 392% y-o-y increase in its consolidated net profit for the financial period ended January 31st. Consolidated net profit reached 2 MM USD (240.7 MM USD) compared to 3.08 MM USD (48.83 MM EGP) achieved a year earlier.
- Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) registered 5 MM AED (17 MM USD) in net losses attributable to shareholders in Q1-2020 compared to 89.1 MM AED (24.25 MM USD) in Q1-2019.
- Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC), owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), has acquired 91% stake in India's Daawat Foods, a rice producer. The agreement is in line with SALIC's strategy to invest in rice, one of its key products, and make the rice supply chain more efficient and robust, according to a recent press release.
- United Electronics Company (eXtra) reported 68 MM SAR (9.2 MM USD) in net profits in Q1- 2020, 2.5% compared to 33.8 MM SAR (9 MM USD) in Q1-2019. Sales grew by 16.5% y-o-y in Q1-2020 to reach 1.2 BN SAR (319.57 MM USD) compared to 1 BN SAR (266.33 MMUSD) in Q1-2019.
- Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Arabian Centers Company's (ACC) corporate family rating (CFR) to ‘Ba2’ from ‘Ba1’. The rating on the 500 MM USD Sukuk, which was issued by Arabian Centers Sukuk Limited and due in 2024, was downgraded to ‘Ba3’ from ‘Ba2’.
Sports and Culture
- For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- Egyptian international and Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah has been ranked as the world’s 4th highest-paid football player in a 2020 list of top-ranking athletes by Forbes magazine. Forbes’s “The World’s Highest-paid Athletes earnings” has Salah in 34th place overall with an income of 35.1 MM USD. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer came in 1st place earning 106.3 MM USD, followed by Portuguese Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo with an income of 105 MM USD.