- Annual urban inflation decreased in February 2020 following three months of back-to-back acceleration reaching 3% compared to 7.2% in January 2020. By consequence, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is expected to resume its easing cycle by applying 50 bps rate cut when the MPC meets on 2 April in order to protect the country’s economic activity trying to mitigate the negative effects of the covid-19 outbreak.
- According to Fitch Solutions, Egypt electricity sector is on track to generate an exportable surplus. Noting that Egypt will increase the power generation to 265 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2023 compared to 5 TWh in 2020. This will allow it to generate a surplus even as domestic demand will increase to 234.9 TWh by 2023.
- Egypt 2020/2021 draft budget include a primary budget surplus of 2%, a budget deficit of 2% of GDP compared to 7.2% in 2019/2020. The government may need to reconsider its economic growth which projected to reach 6% in 2020/2021 and budget targets if the covid-19 crisis persists over the coming weeks and months.
- The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) as well as the Central Banks of Saudi Arabia and UAE have announced packages worth a combined 47 BN USD to help their economies as amid the spread of covid-19. Egypt will allocate 4 BN USD (100 BN EGP), UAE will support banks and businesses with 27.2 BN USD plan, while Saudi Arabia is preparing a 13.3 BN USD package, mainly tailored for SMEs, offering them six-month deferrals on bank payments.
- Oman Bank Muscat signed a 650 MM USD three-year loan with 20 lenders. The loan will be used to finance projects and refinance an existing loan.
- Saudi Arabia is planning to build the “world’s biggest park,” creating large green parks and areas in the capital. The plan consists of four projects: King Salman Park, Sports Boulevard, Green Riyadh and Riyadh Art. These projects will complement the Saudi Vision 2030’s “Quality of Life” program.
- All incoming Saudi currencies from Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) branches abroad, via banks and money transporting companies, have been isolated, as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection.
- The value of non-oil foreign merchandise trade in Abu Dhabi amounted to 213.3 BN AED (58 BN USD) in 2019, according to the Statistics Centre of Abu Dhabi (SCAD). The figures showed a 2% decrease in imports which reached 102.5 BN AED (27.9 BN USD) compared to 113 BN AED (30.7 BN USD) in 2018.
- The Central Bank of Kuwait reported that local liquidity in the Kuwaiti banking sector declined by 39% on an annual basis by the end of January 2020 for the third consecutive month. Money supply (M2) in Kuwaiti banks stood at 380.05 BN KWD (125 BN USD) in January 2020 compared to 38.59 BN KWD (126.77 BN USD) in January 2019.
- China antivirus strategy utilizes massive surveillance that tracks the entire population through cameras with facial recognition and drones that follow people around barking orders. The surveillance reached the extent that they were able to create the “Close Contact Detector” a mobile application with over 200 million users that could tell you if you came into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met on Friday with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, where he handed a letter from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the French President Emmanuel Macron urging France to put pressure on Ethiopia to sign the agreement brokered by the US over the timetable for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
- In the wake of fast spreading coronavirus fears, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) is temporarily closing its trading halls in its main offices in Abu Dhabi as well as those in the other emirates starting from March 15, 2020, until further notice. The precautionary measure by ADX is aimed at protecting public health and ensuring the health and safety of visitors.
- With over 30 BN USD in Gulf bonds due in 2020, the oil-dependent region's issuers will have to urgently reconsider their funding plans, as low oil prices and huge volatility impact their ability to access debt markets.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Google is partnering with the US Government in developing a national website on the long run that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information. In particular, a health-focused subsidiary owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, would launch a small-scale website next week to begin to triage California-based patients. Noting that the website will aim to serve a broader population only "over time" not "very quickly." Trump claimed that 1,700 Google engineers were working on the project.
- AT Lease is planning to issue 1 BN EGP in securitized bonds in Q3-2020. The offering will feature one-year, three-year and five-year tranches, and the company will not begin negotiations with advisors until Q3-2020. AT Lease will start providing factoring services to SMEs in H2-2020 after recently its license.
- Private equity firm Emerging Investment Partners (EIP) has raised 60 MM USD for its EIP Levant Fund, which will target SMEs in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Key investors include the International Finance Corporation and the Dutch Good Growth Fund, as well as Obegi Group, Alfadel Group, and Capital PE. The fund is looking to take stakes in SMEs with turnover under 50 MM USD.
- Cement producer Suez Cement is looking to offload its 51% stake in Kuwait Hilal Cement. Hilal Cement is the third largest producer in Kuwait and operates two cement import terminals. Suez Cement has been the majority shareholder in the company since 2007.
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has unveiled an emergency 1 BN EUR “solidarity package” to help mitigate the impact of covid-19 for companies in the regions in which it operates. The package includes emergency liquidity, working capital, and trade finance facilities for existing EBRD clients.
- Snapchat Inc. has announced the launch of a breakthrough new product, Lens Web Builder. Snapchat’s Lens Web Builder makes it easy for anyone to build compelling, professional augmented reality (AR) Lenses in minutes, enabling businesses to bring their brands to life in a way that is simple, fast, and free.
- Enoc Group recently partnered with global technology company SAP on its Young Professional Program and is set to hire 13 of the program graduates. The SAP Training and Development Institute’s Young Professional Program is a three-month program through which 25 unemployed university graduates gained digital and soft skills to become certified SAP Associate Consultants on SAP’s latest solutions.
- Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a rating of ‘Aa3’ for the long-term issuer default rating (IDR) of the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), with a ‘Stable’ The rating reflects the bank’s ability to maintain robust performance and solid financial metrics, while the 'Stable' outlook reflects strong asset quality and liquidity as well as capitalization ratios.
Sports and Culture
- The Juventus Football Club has confirmed that the Italian football athlete Daniele Rugani has tested positive for Coronavirus-COVID-19. Juventus Football Club is currently activating all the isolation procedures required by law, including those who have had contact with him noting that Cristiano Ronaldo did not take part, as he is in Portugal and will remain there.
- After making history in 2019 by sending the first Emirati Astronaut, Hazza Al Maansouri to the International Space Station, UAE Space program is now fixing its focus on Mars with the Hope Mars Mission. The Mission aims to provide a better understanding about climate change and increase human knowledge about the Martian atmosphere.