Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to a particularly torrid Tuesday, sand storm and all.
THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY here at home is the unexpected and violent sell-off on the Egyptian Exchange, which is now in its second day and has seen the benchmark EGX30 move deeper into the red, having wiped out all of its gains for the year.
We’re not the only market taking it on the chin right now — Turkish stocks dodged having their worst two-day slump in 20 years after investors swooped in to pick up shares at pennies on the greenback. The Borsa Istanbul plummeted 9% on the back of a sharp sell-off during the first few hours of play, Bloomberg reports. It was the second day of turmoil since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to fire a central bank governor with a sound grasp of macro policy. The TRY, meanwhile, plunged to a new low against the greenback.
So is this the start of a flight from emerging markets? Is the EGX slumping because of Turkey? “Probably not” and “No.” The selloffs in Turkey and Egypt are unrelated: Turkish shares and the TRY are under pressure because Erdogan last week sacked his third central bank governor in less than two years. Bloomberg columnist John Authers notes that other emerging markets — even those that elect “market-unfriendly” presidents — generally make sure not to mess with the independence of their central banks. “International markets like central bank independence,” he wrote.
So what’s going on with the EGX? We take a deeper dive in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
HAPPENING NOW- Today is the worst of the ongoing sandstorm, with dusty winds expected to reach speeds of 40-50 km/hr, according to the national weather service. Look for a high this afternoon of about 32°C. The forecast calls for clear skies tomorrow, with the mercury returning to a more seasonally appropriate 22°C and staying in the low 20s throughout the weeknd and well into next week.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- London-listed consumer healthcare giant IDH has gotten the go-ahead from the FRA to list its shares on the EGX. The company doesn’t plan to issue new shares, but instead will go ahead with what will become the country’s first technical listing.
- Your daily vaccine update: Egypt could land the rights to make a vaccine owned by Sinovac (the less effective of China’s two highest-profile jabs, lagging the Sinopharm product now being deployed nationwide). Meanwhile, tourism workers are at the head of the line for vaccinations, as are folks heading on Hajj.
- The first Europe-bound LNG shipment from the Damietta liquefaction plant arrived in Belgium on Sunday — almost a month after the facility restarted operations and sent out trial shipments of gas following an eight-year hiatus.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD: The story of AstraZeneca vaccine is a saga that just never seems to want to end. A top US health authority is calling into question data about the vaccine’s efficacy that just yesterday was widely welcomed by policymakers.
What’s going on? The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (a division of the National Institute of Health) said in a statement that it is worried AstraZeneca “may have included outdated information” from a clinical trial, the result of which was that it “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.” AstraZeneca said yesterday the vaccine was 79% effective in stopping symptomatic covid-19 cases and 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization after completing US trials. The data was released just days after Europe said it would resume using the jab after earlier halting vaccinations, citing what proved to be unfounded fears it could cause blood clots. The news leads the front pages of the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal and is getting plenty of ink from the NYT, Bloomberg and CNBC.
ALSO HAPPENING NOW- Israel’s elections are in full swing, with Benjamin Netanyahu crossing his fingers that the swift vaccine rollout will gain him another term as prime minister, reports Reuters. His main challenger is Yair Lapid, a former finance minister who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party and is an advocate for the regional peace initiative. The polls are currently too close to call.
Oil prices fell below USD 61 on concerns over a lag in short-term demand caused by an uneven pandemic recovery, Bloomberg reports. It won’t be until vaccines are fully rolled out on a global scale and more stimulus pumped into the US economy that demand, and hence prices, will return to their pre-pandemic levels. Oil producers are now expected to keep plans for May production cuts in place as we approach OPEC’s monthly production meeting next week.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The CIB PSA Black Ball Open 2021 men’s squash competition is running until Thursday, following the completion of the women’s round last Thursday. Some 48 men will compete for a USD 175k purse. You can stream the event live on SquashTV or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). You can also snag tickets online to attend in person at the Black Ball Sporting Club in New Cairo. The women’s league saw Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini take home the grand title.
The Real Gate real estate exhibition will kick off on Thursday and run until Saturday at the Egyptian International Exhibition Center.
Head to Sharm for a startup gathering: Investors, entrepreneurs and policymakers will gather in Sharm El Sheikh for the Startup Festival on 28-29 March 2021. More than 80 startups will participate in the exhibition, which will feature panel discussions and workshops. The gathering will also unveil who is taking home hardware from the “Egypt Entrepreneurship Rally Competition.” The gathering is organized by the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, and companies that have graduated from AAST’s supply chain and logistics as well as youth incubators have the chance to pitch their ideas to investors.
The Spring Flowers Exhibit (Ma3rad El Zohoor) is currently taking place at Orman Botanical Garden in Giza. More than 200 exhibitors have set up shop to sell flowers, plants, agricultural products, and gardening equipment. The exhibit runs through 13 April.
The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization is set to open on 3 April in El Fustat. Local and international visitors alike will pay less for admission for the first two weeks to explore the museum’s central hall, according to a cabinet statement. Meanwhile, the Royal Mummies Hall will be ready for visitors starting 18 April. The museum is designed as a celebration of Egyptian civilization from prehistory to the present day.
AUC Press’ Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Sophia the robot is aiming to be the next Picasso, but NFT style: Sophia’s creative juices are flowing and she’s gotten on board the non-fungible token (NFT) digital art train — if you’re unsure what an NFT is, it’s basically both a certificate of provenance and ownership for a piece of digital art, we explained in this story. The robot’s first artwork will go up for auction tomorrow in what will be the first sale of NFT digital art created jointly with artificial intelligence, writes Reuters. The artwork titled “Sophia Instantiation” was created in collaboration with Italian digital artist Andrea Bonaceto and is a 12-second MP4 file showing the evolution of Bonaceto’s portrait into Sophia’s digital painting, accompanied by a physical artwork. NFTs have become the latest investment craze with a digital art piece selling for nearly USD 70 mn this month. Can we say “End Times,” ladies and gentlemen?
And while we’re on NFTs: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey sold a tweet NFT for the equivalent of USD 2.9 mn yesterday, reports CNBC. The tweet, which said “just setting up my twttr,” was first published in March 2006 and was snatched up for 1,630 Ether by Bridge Oracle CEO Sina Estavi. Dorsey said he will convert the proceeds to BTC and will then donate that to GiveDirectly’s Africa response fund.
Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners have invested a combined USD 150 mn in Telegram, according to Gulf Business. The UAE-headquartered social media platform has become one of the world’s 10 most downloaded apps with over 500 mn monthly active users and is now looking to open an office in Abu Dhabi Global Market as a launchpad for additional growth.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Season three of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive has been released this week. If you’re not familiar with the show yet, the docuseries gives a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship. Covid-19 makes a guest appearance this season, with the series following how the pandemic affected the championship while also following along stories of racers such as Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, and Romain Grosjean as well as racing automakers including Scuderia Ferrari.
Comedian Gabriel Iglesias’s The Fluffy Movie is now on Netflix. Anything involving Iglesias is one hell of a good time and will make you laugh for days. Iglesias is known for his wild stories and even wilder impersonations and The Fluffy Movie was one of the first endeavors that ricocheted him into fame. If you’re already a fan of Iglesias, he also has a scripted comedy series on Netflix called Mr. Iglesias where he plays the role of a high-school teacher in a school with underprivileged kids.
As for football, still no matches in sight today.
🧀 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Melt Bistro and Cafe was brought to Egypt by Majid Al Futtaim and, if the name is any indication, boasts cheesy meals or normal dishes where you can request melted cheese be added from a giant cheese wheel of your choice. Featuring fresh produce and ingredients in all their offerings, we recommend the steak sandwich or the veal milanese. For dessert, go for the carrot cake pancakes or the melted chocolate fondant. You can find Melt at City Centre Almaza and Mall of Egypt — where the restaurant offers a fantastic view of Ski Egypt.
We talked to Majid Al Futtaim Properties CEO Ahmed Galal Ismail on our podcast Making It and discussed the group’s priority of selling quality experiences (listen, runtime: 42:44).
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
Dirty Backseat is taking the wheel at Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza tonight for Alt Tuesday. Dirty Backseat is the brainchild of music producer Moe Hani and this will be his first performance alongside a band.
The Warehouse (Al Ma5zan) — a play based off of Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs — will be showing at Rawabet Art Space in Downtown this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The play will be performed by the Kenoma Theatre Company and you can find out more about the event here.