Weekly economic update: US elections cast shadow on MENA markets
* US worldwide indices plummet as election results near
* Egypt likely to finalise $12bn IMF loan within days
* EU agrees to provide $222m in loans to Jordan
Markets this week have been rattled by the potential of US Republican candidate Donald Trump winning the elections.
As the world anticipates the upcoming election results, US worldwide indices plummeted with the S&P500 retrenching to levels last seen in early July.
Yet, regional markets recorded limited losses and some small gains, with the exception of Egypt, where a massive devaluation of the currency has paved the way for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Below is an overview of the economic developments per country:
Egypt: Currency floats
The central bank floats the pound on Thursday, while simultaneously hiking interest rates by 300 basis points. From now on, the rate would be determined not by the central bank but by banks trading via the interbank system.
The IMF welcomed the floating and called it a “welcome move”. A $12 billion IMF loan programme will likely be finalised within days and the country has secured an additional $16.3bn from G7 countries, China and other Arab allies, to manage this year’s budget deficit, which reached 12.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, fuel prices in the country were raised by more than 40 per cent in a bid to reduce the subsidy bill for the government. The country previously increased fuel prices by 78 per cent in 2014.
Jordan: EU loan agreed
The EU has agreed to provide $222 million in loans to Jordan to support the country’s reform agenda. The loans will be disbursed in two installments and will be available for two and a half years.
Learn more about other loans approved for Jordan:
Oman: Tourism among fastest growing
Private deposits at Oman’s commercial banks rose by 3.7 per cent yoy in August and the country ranked eight in the list of fastest-growing destinations for leisure and travel spending globally, according to the World Economic Forum.
Qatar: More privatisation and happier workers
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, disclosed plans to shift some state-run health and education services to the private sector. Currently, the government provides free health care and education to its 300,000 citizens.
The country’s GDP grew by 2.7 per cent in Q2, according to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics.
The Ministry of Labor revealed that the electronic payment scheme introduced last November resulted in a 30 per cent decline in complaints made by migrant workers about their employers. Today, nearly 85 per cent of Qatar’s 2.1m workers are paid through a banking transfer, rather than in cash.
Saudi Arabia: On board to combat climate change
The Saudi Tadawul plans to list “multiple” exchange-listed real-estate funds before the end of the year.
Last week, the kingdom signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. Separately, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, of which Saudi Aramco is a member, announced a $1bn investment over the next decade to develop and accelerate commercial deployment of innovative low emissions technologies.
More on Saudi Arabia here
UAE: Budget announcements but not tax on individuals
The UAE announced the general federal budget for 2017- 2021, with total spending of AED248bn over five years, and a budget of AED 48.7bn for 2017.
The country does not plan to impose taxes on individuals, according to the undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, in comments he made to local Al Bayan newspaper.
The Dubai government chose HSBC to arrange initial funding of the $3bn required for the expansion of the Al Maktoum International airport.
According to LinkedIn’s UAE economic graph, almost 60 per cent of UAE’s workforce is currently employed by local companies and 75 per cent of graduates opt to start their careers in the country.