It’s interest rate week, and domestic factors will not be the only thing weighing on the minds of the Central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee when it meets on Thursday, CEB Governor Tarek Amer suggested yesterday. Oil at USD 75 per bbl, the potential impact of future interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve and the the Trump administration re-imposing sanctions on Iran are all factors to be taken into consideration.
In general, the CBE would like to see interest rates lowered, Amer said, noting that declining interest rates will spark corporate appetite to borrow and make financing for state infrastructure projects more affordable. The governor dismissed complaints that interest rates have been high for too long. Amer’s comments came during a workshop held by Al Ahram during which he spoke broadly on economic policy. We have additional highlights in today’s Speed Round below.
With inflation largely flat in April, the emerging consensus among analysts seems to be that the CBE will leave interest rates on hold ahead of subsidy cuts in July. The central bank is likely to leave interest rates unchanged until September at least, says Pharos Research head Radwa El Swaify, saying that the recent hike in Metro ticket prices, more consumer spending during Ramadan, the expected hike in energy and power prices in July, and higher oil prices all point to a transient rise in inflation. El Swaify sees inflation rising 200 to 350 bps in July and August, reaching 14-15%, according to Al Shorouk. Every USD 1 increase in global oil prices could see the government’s subsidy bill rise by an average of EGP 4 bn annually, she noted. Naeem Holding is of the same mind, saying in a research note picked up by Al Mal that the unexpected rise in April inflation figures means the MPC is unlikely to agree on another rate cut this week.
Detailed inflation figures are out tomorrow. Initial data from the CBE showed the annual headline inflation rate in April dropping to 13.1% from 13.3% in March. While core inflation was up fractionally to 11.62% from 11.59%.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi are in Moscow today for talks with their Russian counterparts that should cover security, terrorism, and the conflicts in Syria and Libya. The meeting will pave the way for the Egyptian-Russian Economic summit this month, where it is likely we’ll see the signing of contracts for the Russian Industrial Zone, according to statements last month by Russia’s Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Georgy Kalamanov. Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil will be attending. A delegation led by Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker is also in Russia for the 2018 Atomexpo nuclear power forum, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The Rosatom-sponsored event, which runs from 14-16 May, brings together leaders and experts from the nuclear power industry. Rosatom is building a USD 30 bn nuclear power plant in Dabaa.
Our friends at Flat6Labs are holding their Cairo Spring demo day today. “The cycle brings a promising lineup of startups that work within software products in education, fintech, health & safety, consumer e-commerce, design, and media,” the invite says. The event kicks off at 6:30pm CLT at the Semiramis InterContinental in downtown Cairo.
It’s a busy morning internationally, too. Among the many headlines competing for your attention this morning:
The Israeli press is predicting an “incendiary week” to our east: The US embassy opens this morning in Jerusalem, having moved from Tel Aviv. Hamas officials were asked by Egyptian intelligence yesterday to de-escalate tensions ahead of planned protests in Gaza today and tomorrow to mark the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem and Nakba Day. (Haaretz | Wall Street Journal)
Goldman Sachs wants to buy something in KSA and has reportedly approached “a Saudi state-owned entity” about a transaction that worth multiple bns, the bank’s CEO for MENA said, pointing to plans to double its headcount in the kingdom. (Bloomberg)
ADNOC in refining megaproject: Abu Dhabi is going to spend USD 45 bn over five years to start refining a good chunk of its own petroleum rather than simply exporting it. State-owned ADNOC wants to create the world’s largest refining and petchem complex. (Wall Street Journal)
HSBC says it has just done its first trade finance transaction using blockchain, adding that the technology will make trade finance transactions “simpler, faster, more transparent and more secure.” (Reuters)
One of our biggest trade partners should soon have a new government. Italy’s anti-establishment Five Stars Movember and the far-right League have reached an agreement on power sharing and a common candidate for prime minister. They have plenty of work to do to fix the economy. (Politico | Reuters)
Hyundai faces growing investor opposition to a plan that would give the founding family more control. (Financial Times)
The Financial Times’ ranking of top executive education programs in 2018 is now out. Spain’s Iese Business School tops the ranking for the third year in a row, followed by Duke Corporate Education, IMD (Switzerland), London Business School, and HEC Paris. You can check out the overview of the package here and the full rankings here.
With Ramadan starting Wednesday or Thursday, the EGX announced yesterday its traditional shorter trading hours for the holy month. The trading session will run 10:00 am until 1:30 pm. Tap or click here for the full schedule.
So, when can we eat? Presuming Ramadan is on Thursday, as the national astronomy research center earlier suggested: Maghrib is at 6:42pm CLT. You’ll have until 3:20 am on Friday to finish your sohour.