Sunday, 6 June 2021

Goldman says CBE could cut rates this month + reserves were up slightly in May

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the first full workweek of June. We have a busy news morning for you as the nation looks forward to the start of the summer tourism season — and to next week’s meeting of the central bank’s monetary policy committee.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- The G7 backed an agreement for a minimum global corporate tax rate of 15% that would oblige large corporations to pay tax in every country they operate in, according to a G7 statement. The aim is to block large firms from dodging tax by booking profits in low-tax jurisdictions, making tax havens a thing of the past. The agreement could generate hundreds of bns of USD for governments.

Just because the G7 thinks it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it’s done: Look for more talks to take place at the G20 meeting in July.

Wait, but what about FAANG? The big five tech companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) are not being hit with an explicit digital services tax just yet, though the new agreement is expected to lengthen their tax bills by virtue of their size, Bloomberg reports. Technical details on how exactly tech companies could be taxed are expected to be on the G-20’s agenda this summer.

The global business press don’t have many negative things to say about the news: The Financial Times calls it “an historic agreement,” Bloomberg a “landmark [pact],” and CNBC a “a significant development in global taxation.”

Other international stories that should probably be on your radar:

  • A mega LBO stateside: A consortium of private equity firms will purchase a majority stake in medical supplier Medline Industries in a transaction that values the company at more than USD 30 bn, making it one of the biggest leveraged buyouts since the global financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported last night. The story is everywhere this morning, from the Financial Times to CNBC.
  • Google plans to make it harder for advertisers to track Android users, following a move by rival Apple, which recently strengthened privacy protections in response to increasing consumer concerns over how tech companies use our data, CNBC reports. Users will be able to opt out of sharing their “Advertising ID” when the change comes into effect later this year.
  • The Donald is off El Face for two years, the company said in a statement.

***CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • PMI outlook brightens, but the gauge remained in contraction territory last month: The PMI rose to 48.6 in May from 47.7 in April, remaining below the 50.0 mark which separates expansion from contraction, due to a drop in output and new business.
  • Juhayna won’t yet confirm it’s in talks to sell a stake to ADQ: Juhayna said it had yet to receive an official offer from ADQ, following a Bloomberg report that claimed the Abu Dhabi wealth fund was looking to snap up a stake in the dairy producer.
  • Saudi industrial oils giant Petromin wants a stake in Wataniya Petroleum: The company threw its hat in the ring along with TAQA Arabia, Emirates National Oil Company, and a consortium of ADQ and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) for a majority stake in the army-owned gas stations operator.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is expected to visit Cairo shortly, French Ambassador Stéphane Romatet tells Enterprise. Le Maire’s visit comes after discussions about potential investments in transport, energy, water management and healthcare projects in Egypt with President Abdel Fatah El Sisi during Sisi’s mid-May visit to Paris, and less than a month since the two countries concluded a multi-bn USD arms sale that will see Egypt buy 30 Rafale fighter jets. Le Maire had been scheduled to visit Egypt in February.

We’ll be sitting down with Ambassador Romatet to discuss France’s support for Egypt’s green economy in this week’s Going Green, on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives will begin discussing the Sovereign Sukuk Act during today’s plenary session, according to the House agenda. The bill, which would pave the way for the government to begin issuing sharia-compliant bonds, received approval from the House Economic Committee last month.

May inflation data will be released this week.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s fate is going to be decided over the next week: The motley crew of political parties bidding to unseat Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyau has a week to gather parliamentary support ahead of a vote of confidence likely to take place on 14 June, the Times of Israel reports. A loose coalition of ultra-nationalists, liberals and Islamists struck a last-minute agreement to form a government last week, which would hand far-right settler Naftali Bennett and liberal leader Yair Lapid the keys to the prime minister’s office.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet Thursday, 17 June to review rates.

The price of your smokes is going up next month: Prices of all cigarette brands will rise as much as EGP 0.50 as of 1 July, The rise comes under new ceilings on the taxable price brackets introduced two years ago to allow tobacco companies to increase prices without their brands moving into a higher bracket, Eastern Company CEO Hani Amani said in an interview on El Hekaya last night (watch, runtime: 4:47).

Thanaweya Amma exams will start on 10 July and continue through to 2 August, Education Minister Tarek Shawki announced yesterday. Students who have received tablets will be required to record their answers digitally and on paper in case of any technical malfunctions, and students without tablets will receive paper exams only. This year’s tests will be aimed at comprehension and understanding and will test students via multiple-choice bubble sheets, Shawki said, emphasizing the ministry’s shift away from rote memorization.

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ECONOMY

Goldman says CBE could cut rates this month + reserves were up in May

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) can afford to cut rates by as much as 50 bps at its meeting later this month, Goldman Sachs MENA economist Farouk Soussa told Bloomberg (watch, runtime 7:12). “We see a very strong case for rate cuts in the near term, as in June. That is predicated on the fact that Egypt has the highest real rates within EM,” Soussa said. The main operation and discount rates currently stand at 8.75%, while overnight deposit and lending rates are at 8.25% and 9.25% respectively. The CBE left rates on hold for a fourth consecutive meeting in April to maintain attractive real rates and in anticipation of rising inflation.

Low inflation gives policymakers cover to lower rates: Inflation slowed against expectations in April, thanks to a favorable base effect that offset a rise in monthly prices. Annual urban inflation fell to 4.1% in April from 4.5% in March, while the national rate (pdf) fell 40 bps to 4.4%. The CBE could look to cut rates to stimulate spending, though an anticipated spike in inflation later in the year as a rise in global commodity prices trickles down to local products makes a hold more likely, analysts previously told us.

And a rate cut won’t harm Egypt’s all important carry trade, Soussa said, suggesting that the CBE could potentially afford to be a bit more aggressive approach. “Real yields in Egypt are currently around 8-9% on a forward-looking basis. … There is plenty of scope there for those rates to come down without affecting the relative attractiveness of rates in Egypt,” he said.

Foreign investors in Egyptian debt have provided an important source of inflows as tourism receipts and FDI contracted in lock step with the rest of the world after the start of the pandemic. Foreign holdings of Egyptian bills and bonds fully recovered from to hit a record USD 28.5 bn in February, while inflows into short-term treasuries reached almost USD 21 bn at the end of April.

Egypt should escape any tapering by the Fed relatively unscathed, Soussa suggested, telling Bloomberg that, despite the risks posed by monetary tightening in the US, Goldman “remains bullish” on local and hard-currency Egyptian bonds.

What is the carry trade and why is it so important? We’ve got this handy explainer to answer that for you.

SPEAKING OF FOREIGN INFLOWS- Egypt's foreign currency reserves increased by almost USD 125 mn in May to USD 40.468 bn, according to recent figures by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). FX reserves are now at their highest level since April 2020, having plummeted almost USD 10 bn during the peak of the covid-19-induced global pullback from emerging markets last year.

TOURISM

Goodbye, Brits. Hello, Russians?

We’re not likely to see a lot of UK tourists arriving in Egypt anytime soon: Egypt is among seven countries moving to Britain’s “red list” on 8 June, meaning travellers entering the UK from Egypt will be required to quarantine at their own expense for 10 days in a government designated hotel, the UK government announced in a statement. Only British or Irish nationals or those who have residence rights will be allowed to enter the UK from Egypt, EgyptAir said in a statement. Reuters also took note of the story.

Why now? Although the government didn’t directly explain the decision to place Egypt on the red list, it appears to have been motivated by concerns over the country’s vulnerability to new variants of the virus. A government-backed travel health body said there is a “high risk of exposure” to covid in Egypt, and advised against travel due to an “emerging covid-19 variant” in the region.

Some will still come in spite of the quarantine, right? Sure, some tourists desperate for sun might shrug off the inconvenience of a 10-day quarantine on the way back home. But most will flinch at having to pay the GBP 1,750+ charge. That makes Egypt an extremely expensive destination for UK holidaymakers, so we can likely say goodbye to tourists from that corner of the world until we’re moved off the bad list.

On the plus side, we may be getting the Russians back in just a few days. Flights to Red Sea resorts are likely to resume “in the coming days” following a six-year hiatus, Aeroflot CEO Mikhail Poluboyarinov said in an interview on Friday, according to Tass.

But then again, we might not: “We understand that there is a high degree of readiness for the reopening of two more destinations [to Egypt], Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, but we do not know yet when and how this will happen,” Poluboyarinov told Reuters. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for June, or at least for some point in the summer season. The industry has been biting its nails and waiting for the big day since the plan was announced in April, but repeated delays since the agreement was announced mean we won’t be holding our breaths.

Direct flights between Egypt and Libya could also be making a return: A Civil Aviation Ministry delegation inspected Benina, Mitiga and Misrata international airports in Libya Wednesday, ahead of the potential resumption of direct flights to Cairo, Asharq Al Awsat reports. Civilian flights between Cairo and Tripoli were said to have resumed in April, though our own search yielded no direct flights from Cairo to Tripoli without a stopover in Tunis for the coming three months.

COVID WATCH

US to donate vaccines to Egypt

Egypt and 13 other “regional priority” countries will receive some 6 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines from the US, the White House said in a statement on Thursday, without disclosing how the shots will be divided between the countries. The doses are part of the first batch of 25 mn doses the US plans to share, including some 19 mn jabs that will go to the Covax program. “The specific vaccines and amounts will be determined and shared as the administration works through the logistical, regulatory and other parameters particular to each region and country,” the statement read. The US aims to send abroad at least 80 mn doses by the end of June.

The first made-in-Egypt batch of China’s Sinovac vaccine be rolling of the production line within two weeks, Zayed said (watch, runtime 1:35). The ministry said last week that the first batch of doses would be ready by the end of June.

All residents of the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates should be inoculated by 1 July, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement to Extra News (watch, runtime 2:44), after the government concluded the vaccination of all Red Sea tourism workers last week. Some 2.5 mn people — 2.4% of the population — have received at least one jab of a covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations will be made available for Egyptians seeking to go on the Hajj pilgrimage this summer, Zayed said in a statement. Only those who are vaccinated or recently recovered from covid-19 will be allowed to perform Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia had said.

The Health Ministry reported 821 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 861 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 267,171 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 41 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 15,309.

Canada and the United States are going to start mixing jabs for both convenience as AstraZeneca falls out of favour north of the 49th parallel and for longer-term protection against virus variants. Canada will allow people jabbed with AstraZeneca to get Moderna or Pfizer for their second doses, while the US is looking at the best combinations to “counter waning immunity and to keep pace with an evolving virus.” The WSJ and CNN have more.

ALSO- Japan will provide an additional USD 800 mn to the Covax initiative to help fill the USD 1.7 bn funding gap affecting global vaccine distribution, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged, according to Bloomberg. Egypt is among the countries benefiting from the WHO-backed initiative to provide vaccines to lower-income countries.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Russia wants another RIZ in latest sign of warming ties with Moscow

Russia wants a second industrial zone in Egypt: The Suez Canal Economic Zone has received a request from Russia to establish a new Russian industrial zone in Ain Sokhna, SCZone Chairman Yehia Zaki said during a meeting with PM Moustafa Madbouly at the weekend.

The statement is very light on details: We have no idea how much Russia is prepared to invest or when an agreement could be reached, but said Russia is eyeing an expansion into the Ain Sokhna industrial zone because of the investment incentives on offer.

Work to transform Ain Sokhna’s port has begun: Work on phase 1 of the EGP 20 bn Ain Sokhna port development project kicked off three months ago and is slated for completion in March 2023, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir said yesterday. The project will add four new basins, new container terminals and logistics areas, and a connection to the new high-speed rail line being constructed between Sokhna and New Alamein.

It also wants to get moving with its USD 7 bn RIZ: Moscow wants to start working on the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ) according to Zaki, who said that “work to facilitate procedures” should start in the “upcoming period,” providing no further details.

About the RIZ: The RIZ comes under a 50-year agreement with Russia — signed in Moscow in May 2018, and ratified by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi almost a year later — to grant as many as 32 Russian companies rights to develop a 5.25 mn sqm stretch of land in the SCZone, giving them a jumping off point to export to the rest of the region. RIZ, which was previously expected to go online last year, is now set to be up and running in 2022, provided that final talks to establish the zone wrap up this year, Russia’s ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko earlier said.

IN OTHER NEWS FROM MOSCOW-

Egyptian cablemaker ElSewedy Electric may begin collaborating with Russiaan electricity company Rosseti after the two companies signed a MoU on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, Rossetti said in a statement yesterday. The agreement will see the companies explore joint electricity projects in Egypt and other countries, it said.

Strengthening ties between Russia and Egypt was on the agenda for International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and who met with Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov during the forum yesterday, the ministry said in a statement.

AND IN OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS- The foundation stone for a USD 7.5 bn petchem complex in the Ain Sokhna industrial zone was laid by Madbouly yesterday — almost a month after the SCZone signed an agreement with the Red Sea National Refining and Petrochemicals Company to establish the 3.56 mn-sqm refinery, according to a cabinet statement. Said to be the largest of its kind in Africa and the Middle East, the petrochemical complex will produce a raft of refined oil products such as polyethylene, polyester and bunker fuel.

Does a multi-bn petchem complex in Ain Sokhna ring any bells? This is a separate project to the USD 11 bn Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex. TPC owner Carbon Holdings was reported in April to be restructuring mns of USD in debt taken on to finance the construction of the plant. Oil Ministry spokesperson Hamdy Abdel Aziz told us last month hat the Red Sea National Refining facility is a separate project from TPC, and a TPC official declined to provide an update on the project.

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ENERGY

More natgas microbuses are coming

Owners of microbuses that are 20+ years old will be able to apply for the first phase of the government’s natgas vehicle swap scheme starting July, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement. The scheme will initially be rolled out in Cairo, Giza, Qalyubia, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said and the Red Sea. The Finance Ministry had earlier announced that it could expand its natgas transition scheme to include more vehicle owners and more governorates, as part of its plan to outfit 15k microbuses with dual-fuel engines during the scheme’s first year. The program had initially aimed to convert 250k cars to run on natural gas by 2023 but is now reaching for the more ambitious target of 450k.

Public transport is also getting a natgas facelift: Some nearly 2.3k public buses in Cairo and Alexandria will be converted to run on natural gas at a total cost of EGP 1.2 bn under a joint agreement signed between the ministries of oil, local development and military production as well as the public transport authorities of both cities.

Taqa Arabia — a key player in the coming rollout of natgas infrastructure — just got a EGP 916 mn loan from the National Bank of Egypt to help finance the construction of natgas filling stations, the bank said in a press release (pdf). Taqa’s Master Gas subsidiary will use the finance to build 40 new filling stations in a number of governorates, to support the growing shift to natural gas vehicles.

The move comes as part of a wider plan: Taqa Arabia — along with state companies Cargas and Gastec — is working to expand the country’s network of natgas filling stations as part of the government’s plan to lessen the reliance on gasoline to power the nation’s vehicles. Taqa announced earlier this year that it would invest EGP 3.6 bn in expanding its number of nat gas stations to 180 by 2023. The company will spend EGP 800 mn to construct 40 stations in 2021, EGP 1.2 bn on 60 stations in 2022 and EGP 1.6 bn on 80 stations in 2023. The company currently operates 23 natgas stations, CEO Pakinam Kafafi said in the statement.

Taqa Petroleum will also use part of the facility to build a petroleum storage terminal with a capacity of 25.6 mn liters in Alexandria, to “secure the state’s petroleum reserves and prevent local market’s shortages,” TAQA Arabia CFO Peter Mofeed said. The company already has an existing terminal with a capacity of 18 mn liters in Suez.

STARTUP WATCH

Edtech platform iSchool raises USD 160k from Edventures

Edtech platform iSchool raised USD 160k from Nahdet Misr Publishing House’s venture capital arm Edventures, the company said in a press release (pdf). The money will be put towards developing an online platform to widen iSchool’s EdTech services locally, and expand regionally. iSchool provides STEAM-focused educational technology for students 6-18 years old to encourage students to pursue careers in software development, AI, robotics, and similar fields. Edventures had recently invested a six-figure sum in book summary platform Akhdar, and had previously said it was looking to invest into 5-7 more startups in 2021, with a ticket size of up to USD 200k and possible follow-on funding.

SMES

More green lending, courtesy of the EBRD

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will lend the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) USD 100 mn to on-lend to green projects, the EBRD said in a statement (pdf). The money will be used to help businesses make more efficient use of energy, water and land, as well as fund “high-performing technologies,” the bank said. The state-owned bank will also benefit from the facility, which will see it work with the EBRD to improve climate corporate governance.

This is the third loan the NBE has landed from the EBRD under a green economy financing facility set up by the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency in 2017 to channel finance to green projects in Egypt. The EBRD had extended a USD 100 mn loan to the bank in June 2020 to support SMEs facing liquidity issues due to covid-19, as well as another USD 100 mn increase to its trade finance program. The EBRD had previously provided a USD 150 mn loan for SMEs in December 2019.

SUEZ CANAL

Ever Given blame game continues…

A solution to the Ever Given dispute seemed further away than ever over the weekend as the Suez Canal Authority and the ship’s insurer traded public accusations over who was responsible for the six-day blockage of the canal.

We seemed to be getting somewhere last month when the SCA agreed to slash its compensation demand to USD 550 mn.

But the two sides are evidently no closer to agreeing on how to apportion responsibility after the Ever Given’s insurer UK Club on Thursday argued that the SCA should have prevented the ship from travelling at such high speeds, only for Rabie to yesterday accuse the ship’s captain for being solely responsible for the incident.

UK Club and the ship’s owner, Shoei Kisen, have said nothing to suggest that they will meet the SCA’s revised claim. Shoei Kisen reportedly offered to pay the authority USD 150 mn, less than a third of what the SCA is asking for.

There will either be a solution or more can-kicking later this month: The Ismailia Economic Court will hold a hearing on the case on 20 June.

DIPLOMACY

Operation Gaza Rebuild begins

Egypt has dispatched a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza to start the rebuilding process after the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, Egyptian state TV reported Friday (watch, runtime 16:03). These include dozens of bulldozers, cranes and trucks, Reuters reports.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem reiterated on Friday his party's “appreciation of Egyptian contributions to the rebuilding efforts,” according to the news agency.

What does Gaza need? Rebuilding the Palestinian enclave would cost USD 150 mn, Reuters reported, citing a housing ministry official. Some 1.5k housing units were destroyed during the 11-day conflict and 17k are partially damaged, while another 1.5k units are beyond repair, the Gaza’s housing ministry said previously.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had earlier pledged USD 500 mn for the reconstruction of properties and infrastructure in Gaza. Egypt has also been trying to convert the current truce into a longer-term agreement since the Israel-Hamas ceasefire brokered by Egypt took hold in late May.

Egypt’s reconstruction efforts also got digital ink in the Associated Press and TRT World.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Thanaweya Amma exams was the hot topic of the nation’s talk shows last night, after Education Minister Tarek Shawki announced at a presser yesterday that Thanaweya Amma students will sit for their end-of-year exams between 10 July and 2 August. Those who have received tablets will be required to submit their answers electronically, while those who haven’t will receive paper exams only.

Shawki was everywhere last night to explain the changes: The shift to an online system should not create confusion for Thanaweya Amma students nor parents and is not meant to introduce students to a brand new exam setting, Shawki said in a phone-in to Al Qahera Wel Nas (watch, runtime: 17:40). The government has been working to familiarize students with answering exams through bubble sheets since the 2018-2019 academic year when high schoolers first got their hands on their tablets, he said. This year’s tests will be open-book examinations that contain questions testing students’ understanding of information, and for the first time, surveillance cameras will monitor exam settings to crack down on cheating, the minister told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 15:49). Students will not be allowed to use the internet during exams but the devices will be monitored to ensure no one tampers or hacks them, Shawki said on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 16:08). Kelma Akhira also had coverage of the minister’s meeting with reporters (watch, runtime: 1:36).

The Ever Given dispute was back last night, when Kelma Akihra’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 7:17) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 11:42) interviewed Suez Canal Authority boss Osama Rabie. Rabie blamed the container ship’s owners and ins. company, who are refusing to pay more than USD 150 mn in compensation, and complained that ins. outfit UK Club is trying to blame the SCA for allowing the ship to travel too fast through the canal. Under the international navigation rules, the ship’s captain is solely responsible for exceeding the speed limit, he said, suggesting that the Ismailia Economic Court is unlikely to buy into UK Club’s argument.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag in the foreign press this morning: Haaretz suggests that, with diplomatic efforts failing to produce a breakthrough, the GERD dispute could produce a regional conflagration, while the Associated Press carries a report of a fire at an El Marg juvenile detention center at the weekend, which it says killed six children and left more than two dozen injured. El Nasr Automotive's partnership with China's Dongfeng is being championed by Clean Technica as providing a possible model for other countries looking to boost domestic auto manufacturing, while the National picks up the news that Evelyne Porret — the Swiss artist who founded Tunis village’s pottery school in Fayoum and was credited with introducing the craft to the village — passed away last week at the age of 81.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has officially listed Banque Misr among 19 other foreign banks licensed to operate in KSA, paving the way for the state-owned bank to open a branch in the kingdom.
  • London-listed United Oil & Gas has started its production on the ASD-1X well discovery on its jointly-owned Abu Sennan concession in the Western Desert after obtaining an approval for its development lease from the Oil Ministry, MarketWatch reports.
  • The USD 400 mn Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded project to upgrade the Sidi Kerir and Al-Atf power plants is 80% complete and expected to be ready in November 2021.
  • CPC Egypt is working to establish an EGP 350-400 mn logistics zone in Sadat City to provide logistical services to the West Delta region, and is in talks with three unnamed parties to partner on the project.
  • The Trade Ministry has increased the nitrogen fertilizer export duty to align with global prices, according to a statement. Fertilizer businesses will pay EGP 2.5k per tonne for fertilizer exports for the coming 12 months, a jump of over EGP 1.9k from the EGP 600-per-tonne fee imposed last March.

PLANET FINANCE

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El Salvador may become the first country to make BTC its legal tender in the coming weeks, CNBC reports. In a video statement to a global bitcoin event (watch, runtime: 1:21), President Nayib Bukele said he had formed a partnership with digital epayments firm Strike to create the infrastructure for a crypto-based financial system and that he would send a bill to parliament next week.

Emerging market stocks are expected to benefit the most from the global economic reopening after lagging behind their developed-market counterparts this year, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index performing better than the MSCI World Index for the first time since January, Bloomberg reports. Attractive valuations, a weaker USD, the expected recovery of global supply chains, and higher global commodity prices are all likely to boost the appeal of emerging-market stocks. While analysts expect the MSCI index to jump about 20% over the coming 12 months, their exposure to inflation, as well as a potential spike in commodity prices, could put a cap on the run.

The US Federal Reserve plans to begin the great unwinding of one of its emergency stimulus programs and will start selling down its holdings of corporate debt bought in response to the covid market crash last year, it said in a statement last Wednesday, without providing a timeframe. The sale of holdings in the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, which includes corporate bonds purchased in the secondary market and exchange-traded funds that invest in corporate bonds, will be “gradual and orderly” and will aim to avoid triggering market backlash, the central bank said.

US investors will be barred from investing in Huawei and 58 other Chinese tech and defence companies as of 2 August, under a new executive order signed Thursday that aims to prevent US capital from being used to fund potential national security threats, the Financial Times reports.

Down

EGX30

10,055

-0.7% (YTD: -7.3%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.64

Sell 15.74

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.64

Sell 15.74

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

10,698

+0.4% (YTD: +23.1%)

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ADX

6,606

-0.3% (YTD: +30.9%)

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DFM

2,824

-0.5% (YTD: +13.3%)

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S&P 500

4,229

+0.9% (YTD: +12.6%)

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FTSE 100

7,069

+0.1% (YTD: +9.4%)

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Brent crude

USD 71.89

+0.8%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 3.10

+1.8%

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Gold

USD 1,892.00

+1.0%

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BTC

USD 35,168

-5.6% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.7% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.51 bn (13.9% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 7.3% YTD.

In the green: Ibnsina Pharma (+2.5%), Pioneers Holding (+2.3%) and Telecom Egypt (+2.0%).

In the red: CI Capital (-4.8%), Fawry (-2.0%) and Qalaa Holding (-1.9%).

AROUND THE WORLD

OPEC+ leaders are sneering at the International Energy Agency’s 2050 net-zero emissions road map, warning that a shift away from oil and gas under this transition would harm the global economy, Bloomberg reports. The agency last month said that all new oil and gas projects should be halted if we’re going to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, a call that unsurprisingly seems to have fallen on deaf ears among the world’s largest oil producers. The Saudi energy minister dismissed the idea as “la la land,” his Qatari counterpart called the focus on green energy “dangerous, while Russian Deputy PM Alexander Novak said ending new investment would cause fuel prices to skyrocket.

IN DIPLOMACY: The EU will work with Egypt to solidify the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, European Council President Charles Michel pledged after a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi Wednesday, Michel said on Twitter. The two sides also discussed Libya, setting up economic and defense partnerships, and cooperation on mitigating the impact of covid-19 in Africa, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

Meanwhile, Egypt and France carried out joint naval and air force exercises off the Mediterranean Coast, the armed forces said in a statement. The exercises focused on counter-terrorism and anti-piracy activities.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Six Egyptian firms have made Forbes’ 2021 list of the Middle East’s top 100 companies: Leading private sector bank CIB, Orascom Construction, Talaat Moustafa Group, Telecom Egypt, Elsewedy Electric and Eastern Company are among the region’s 100 “most valuable and profitable companies.” Aggregate market value of all the companies on the list rose more than 30% to USD 3 tn last year, despite a 39% fall in aggregate net income. Saudi Arabia tops the list with 37 companies, followed by the UAE and Qatar.

CALENDAR

3-6 June (Thursday-Monday): Egypt is hosting the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics.

7 June (Monday): British Egyptian Business Association hosts an event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

14 June (Monday): Egypt Green Economy Forum.

17 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday): The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

20 June (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court to hold hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

24 June (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year (public schools).

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo, Egypt. The Big 5 Egypt Impact Awards will also be taking place at the event on 27 June.

30 June (Wednesday): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June – 15 July: National Book Fair.

10 July – 2 August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

1 July (Thursday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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