Sunday, 31 October 2021

AM — CBE leaves rates on hold, eyeing Fed taper, inflation

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Happy Halloween, boys and girls — and welcome to the final business day of October. The first week of November is shaping up to be particularly busy, with world politics driving the news agenda everywhere.

HERE AT HOME, it’s clear that inflation is going to continue biting. The specter of rising prices was a factor in the central bank’s Thursday decision to leave interest rates unchanged, and we have news this morning that (a) natural gas prices to industry will rise amid spiraling global energy prices and (b) that the Supply Ministry is not just hiking the cost of subsidized cooking oil, but telegraphing that bread prices for ration card holders will also have to go up. We have all three stories in this morning’s news well, below.

IT’S A BIG WEEK FOR our warming planet — and for our global leaders, who get to confab in person — in many cases for the first time in two years.

Climate change is the story of the week as politicians gather in Edinburgh starting tomorrow for the COP26 climate conference (official website). Host Boris Johnson has called on G20 nations to step up efforts to reduce emissions before global warming becomes “apocalyptic.”

Wait, what’s COP26 and why is it important? The two-week global climate summit is being billed as the most important COP event since the landmark COP21 when the Paris climate agreement was signed. A devastating report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this year has reinforced the necessity for radical action to reduce global heating and has pushed it up the priority list of world leaders. Scientists now say that countries must halve CO2 emissions and reach net-zero by the middle of the century if we are to have any hope of limiting warming to 1.5°C. Whether a success or a failure, this month’s summit will have a big say in whether we are able to course correct and meet these targets.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will be in the UK for COP26 and is scheduled to sit down with Boris on the sidelines of the summit.

Leaders of the G20 countries are having a super-busy weekend. They gathered yesterday in Rome for their first in-person summit in two years, where they “broadly backed calls to extend debt relief for impoverished countries and pledged to vaccinate 70% of the world's population against COVID-19 by mid-2022” — but appear to be struggling to reach an agreement on climate change, Reuters reports. The Rome summit wraps today and most attendees are heading straight to Edinburgh from there.

There are plenty of challenges to a climate pact — and two bis sticks in the mud. China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, declined to attend G20 in person, as did Russia. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are also giving COP26 a pass. Xi’s absence, in particular, makes it less likely we’ll see a meaningful agreement to phase out coal and up climate aid to developing nations.

G20 leaders don’t appear to have gone as far on debt relief as many would like (including the IMF), but are officially on board with the OECD’s global minimum corporate tax of 15%, the Washington Post reports. Egypt was among the 136 countries to have approved the tax at the ministerial level. The leaders want to “ensure that the new rules will come into effect at global level in 2023,” according to the two-day summit’s draft conclusions seen by Reuters.

ENERGY CRISIS- Gas prices fell by as much as 20% in Europe after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered state-run gas exporter Gazprom to begin filling up European storage facilities by 8 November, the Financial Times reports. But the gas crunch isn’t over yet: Analysts and energy trading executives are still concerned about the looming winter energy crisis if Russia isn’t forthcoming with additional gas supply in November. “We think the sell-off has probably been overdone as we’re still quite sceptical that there will be a meaningful step-up in exports from Russia before the end of the year,” the head of European gas at one energy consultancy firm told the FT.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-

Are we about to see another Great Gulf Smackdown? Comments by a Lebanese minister about the Saudi-led war in Yemen have not gone down well in the GCC, with Saudi Arabia lashing out after Lebanese Information Minister George Kurdahi (yes, the former host of Who Wants to be a Mn’aire) criticized the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Saudi and Bahrain have both expelled Lebanon’s ambassadors and Kuwait has kicked out its chargés d’affaires. The UAE has also withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Beirut.

Saudi Arabia has also banned imports from Lebanon, heaping further pressure on the country’s economy, which has cratered since the eruption of a severe financial and economic crisis in late 2019. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Washington Post all have the story.


Facebook’s Meta facelift: Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday announced the rebrand of the social media giant now known as Meta Platforms. The social network on which the company built its success will become just one half of the business, with its metaverse division Reality Labs making up the other half. If you’re feeling a little lost in the metaverse, check our recent explainer here.

We’re feeling a little queasy about Meta — and it's not the VR headsets: The cynical among us might point out that a) the rebrand provides a handy distraction from the recent negative press cycle on the allegedly toxic impact of Facebook on our health, our kids, and our public discourse, and b) said allegedly toxic impact does not inspire huge trust in Zuck’s self-appointed role as the architect of this new virtual promised land. The story is getting play left right and center: Financial Times | The Verge | Reuters | BBC | Wall Street Journal.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

We could soon find out this week which commodities will be traded on Egypt’s long awaited commodities exchange when it launches early next year. Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy told Al Borsa last week that we should expect an announcement following a meeting set for this coming week with EGX boss Mohamed Farid and head of the Internal Trade Development Authority Ibrahim Ashmawy.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Tomorrow’s the start of a new month. Here are dates for some key news triggers as we enter November:

  • PMI: November’s purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Wednesday, November 3.
  • Foreign reserves: October’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime during the first week of November.
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for October will be released on Wednesday, 10 November.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

enterprise

ECONOMY

Egypt leaves rates on hold as CBE eyes Fed taper, inflation,

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) left interest rates on hold for an eighth consecutive meeting on Thursday amid rising global inflation and expectations the US Federal Reserve will start tapering its stimulus program by the end of the year. The Monetary Policy Committee left overnight deposit and lending rates unchanged at 8.25% and 9.25%, respectively, while the main operation and discount rates are still at 8.75%, the central bank said in a statement (pdf) following the meeting. The CBE cited a slow-down in global economic activity due to supply chain disruptions, as well as expectations that international financial conditions will remain accommodative in the medium term as among the factors motivating the rate hold.

The decision comes as no surprise: All 12 economists and analysts we surveyed in our regular interest rate poll predicted the CBE would leave rates unchanged.

This means Egypt still offers one of the highest real interest rates in the world, which will be crucial in reducing volatility should US rates pick up or local inflation rise significantly in the coming months. “We believe Egyptian treasuries will remain attractive, underpinned by EGP stability and maintained real interest rates,” Beltone Financial’s Alia Mamdouh said in a research note following the meeting. “Among emerging markets with comparable yields, Egypt still stands out with a relatively less impacted economy from the repercussions of the covid-19 pandemic as it provides growth potential.”

Portfolio flows have been a crucial source of hard currency for Egypt as its economy recovers from the covid pandemic. Foreign holdings have surged to a record USD 33 bn this year, bolstering the country’s balance of payments amid a plunge in tourism revenues.

Taper time is approaching: Fed officials have said that the central bank could begin unwinding its USD 120 bn a month bond-buying programme in November — and has signalled it will then begin increasing interest rates. Rising US rates could spell challenges for emerging markets as investors are tempted to sell-down riskier assets in favor of higher-yielding US treasuries.

The FinMin has sought to project confidence ahead of the taper, with Finance Minister Mohamed Maait telling Bloomberg last month that policymakers are closely monitoring the situation — and talking up Egypt’s experience at handling EM volatility.

Inflation is also a concern for policymakers: Annual urban inflation reached a 20-month high in September of 6.6%, which the CBE attributed to an unfavourable base effect and accelerating food prices, which rose for the fifth consecutive month to 10.6%.

But the CBE isn’t sounding the alarm bells: The CBE said that its current policy will see prices stabilize in the medium term, and is consistent with achieving its inflation target of 7% (+/-2%) by 4Q2022.

Heightened inflation should be temporary, according to Capital Economics, which said that the urban rate will remain at its current level into early 2022 but could fall back below the lower bound of the central bank’s target range by the middle of next year.

No rate cuts in the near term: Analysts also don’t see much chance of the CBE resuming its easing cycle while global prices remain pressured. “Given the upside risk to inflation in the near term and the sizable CA deficit, we do not expect the central bank to relax its monetary policy stance in the short term,” Renaissance Capital wrote in a recent note. Arqaam Capital’s Noaman Khalid and Prime Holdings’ Mona Bedeir both see the central bank holding rates until at least the beginning of 2022. “Egypt’s structurally-high financing needs at a time of growing risk of tightening global conditions will keep the monetary authorities cautious,” Bedeir said in our pre-meeting poll. Capital Economics’ James Swanson also predicts the CBE won’t enact a rate cut before mid-2022, writing over the weekend that he expects policymakers to lower the overnight deposit rate by a total of 150 bps by the end of 2023.

When’s the next meeting? The Monetary Policy Committee is set to convene for its final meeting of the year on 16 December.

ENERGY

Factories face higher utility bills as gov’t hikes gas prices

The government has hiked gas prices for factories by up to 28%, according to a decision published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, as global gas prices remain elevated. Cement, iron and steel, and petrochemicals and fertilizers producers will now pay USD 5.75 / mmBtu, up from USD 4.5 / mmBtu. Gas prices for other industries will rise 5.6% to USD 4.75 / mmBtu.

The move more or less reverses pandemic-era cuts that lowered natgas prices for industrial producers to USD 4.5 / mmBtu in a bid to increase exports and help firms withstand the covid-19 crisis. Before the cuts, cement companies were paying USD 6.00 / mmBtu, while metallurgy and ceramic manufacturers were paying USD 5.50 / mmBtu.

The great gas rally: Global gas prices have surged this year amid rising post-lockdown demand in Asia and tightening supply. Prices in Europe and the UK have soared to record highs while Nymex futures have more than doubled to hit their highest levels since late 2008.

The saving grace? Electricity prices will remain frozen for the foreseeable future, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk told us recently.

Fuel prices at the pump have also been hiked three times this year as international oil and gas prices have risen. Car owners are now paying up to 12% more for fuel than they were at the beginning of the year after the government hiked the prices of all fuel grades by 0.75.


Taqa Arabia plans 6x increase in its solar capacity: Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia is looking to increase its solar energy capacity to 400-500 MW within five years from 70 MW currently, Qalaa Holdings’ chairman Ahmed Heikal said at an industry event in Riyadh last week, according to a press release (pdf).

Getting over the glut? This marks a departure from the company’s strategy, announced last year, when Taqa had said it would be focusing on small-scale solar projects to the tune of 2-10 MW in Egypt for the next two years amid an electricity glut that hit solar companies looking to invest in large scale projects. The company said earlier this year that it would be building two solar facilities worth USD 4 mn in Somabay, that would produce a combined 5 MW of power. In late 2020, the company received a USD 4.2 mn loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to fund a 6 MW photovoltaic solar plant supplying electricity to Dina Farms.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was corrected on 2 November to reflect that the price hike for other industries is 5.6%, not 21% as we previously reported.

COMMODITIES

Supply Ministry downplays potential for bread subsidy cuts as global wheat prices rise

Bread prices may rise, but it will “take time”: The government is playing down the likelihood of an imminent increase in the price of subsidized bread amid rising global wheat prices, with Supply Minister Al El Moselhy telling reporters on Thursday that it “will take time” for the government to set a new price, Reuters reports.

Price rises were signposted in August by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who suggested that the government would make a “modest” reduction to bread subsidies for the first time in a generation without providing further details.

The Supply Ministry has been working on a plan to cut subsidies, which will be sent to the cabinet for approval when ready, the ministry’s spokesperson said at the time. Bread is currently sold for EGP 0.05 per loaf but costs EGP 0.6-0.65 to produce.

Vegetable oil subsidies will be cut for the second time this year: From 1 November, the price of a liter of cooking oil will increase from EGP 21 to EGP 25 for ration card holders, while the 800 ml bottle will jump from EGP 17 to EGP 20, El Moselhy said.

Rising wheat costs this season are posing an increasing problem to importers, especially Egypt which is the world’s largest importer of wheat. A convergence of factors, including reduced crop production in some of the world’s biggest producers, higher shipping costs, and trade tariffs, have pushed up global prices to highs not seen for a decade.

Mixed signals: The spiralling prices are putting Egypt’s public finances in a precarious position, according to Moselhy, who told Ala Mas’ouleety last night that the country’s budget deficit will widen and inflation will rise if subsidies are left unchanged (watch, runtime: 9:09). Despite the pressures on the state budget, he downplayed the potential for subsidy cuts, telling show host Ahmed Moussa that he does not think the price will be moved “in the near future” (watch, runtime: 5:59).

Egypt is looking to hedge to insulate itself from rising prices: The government is in talks with Citigroup to take out hedging contracts to reduce its exposure to wheat prices and minimize pressures on its finances as commodity prices continue to climb, he told Bloomberg. The ministry also wants the finance ministry to purchase contracts for vegetable oil price increases, he added. Commodity subsidies currently make up EGP 87 bn of the ministry’s budget, the minister said. Of that, EGP 51 bn is earmarked for bread subsidies for 71 mn Egyptians, while the remaining EGP 36 bn are funneled towards other commodities serving 64 mn people.

DEVELOPMENT FINANCE

World Bank okays USD 360 mn loan for Egypt’s post-covid recovery

We’re getting a fresh USD 360 mn World Bank loan: The World Bank has approved a USD 360 mn facility to support the Egyptian economy as it recovers from the covid pandemic, the global lender said in a statement (pdf) on Thursday. The development policy financing (DPF) loan will be used to support the private sector, increase transparency at state-owned enterprises and promote female participation in the workforce.

The project is geared towards bolstering the second phase of Egypt’s economic reform program, which focuses on structural changes, the lender said. The government said earlier this year that it would embark on a three-year reform program that would prioritize private sector-led growth and target specific sectors for development.

The funding announcement comes on the heels of the World Bank upgrading its post-covid growth outlook for Egypt. Egypt’s economy is expected to grow 5.0% in FY2021-2022, up from the 3.3% in FY2020-2021, the bank’s October 2021 MENA economic update reads. The forecast is an upward revision from its April economic update, when it said Egypt’s GDP would grow at a 4.5% clip during the current fiscal year.

And there might be more funding coming our way: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) “is considering” parallel financing of the same amount, the World Bank statement reads, without providing further details on what the financing depends on or what the approval timeline may look like.

IN OTHER FINANCE NEWS-

NBE to get USD 200 mn to on-lend to infrastructure projects: The AIIB and the OPEC Fund have lent USD 200 mn to the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) to channel into infrastructure projects, the lenders said in separate statements (here and here) on Thursday. The AIIB will contribute USD 150 mn and the OPEC Fund for International Development will provide the remaining USD 50 mn.

Where’s the money going? The facility will be used to on-lend to the private sector in several priority industries, including education, energy, health and transportation, OPEC said. The state-owned bank will also channel finance to SMEs, the statement added.

SUBSIDIES

Fourth phase of export subsidy payout program to launch in November

The Finance Ministry will launch a fourth phase of its export subsidy program at the start of November, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement on Thursday. The program allows exporters to receive overdue subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a 15% haircut.

Some 2.5k exporters have received a combined EGP 30 bn in overdue subsidies since the program launched in November last year, Maait said. Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk earlier this month told us that the government had paid out some EGP 23 bn in overdue export subsidies to date.

The fourth and final phase? The current export subsidy system is set to be replaced by a new program greenlit by the cabinet in June that will see the government dole out EGP 8 bn in subsidies this fiscal year, Kouchouk told us. The new system will focus more closely on “the performance of exporters” — and introduce a sliding scale of incentives that become larger as an exporter’s use of local components increases, he added.

COVID WATCH

Egypt receives another 3.6 mn Pfizer doses from the US

More Pfizer jabs from the US: Egypt has received 3.6 mn doses of Pfizer’s covid vaccine under the Gavi / Covax program from the US, the Health Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

This is our fourth Pfizer shipment from the United States: In total we have received over 8.26 mn Pfizer doses from the US, far above the 5 mn shots we were told to expect.

The Health Ministry reported 948 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 927 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 330,084 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 57 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 18,592.

The US Food and Drug Authority authorized Pfizer and BioNTech’s covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11, a move that will make the shot available for 28 mn children across the country, the regulator said in a statement on Friday. This is the first covid jab in the US that has been given the green light for use on children.

US pharma company Merck will allow other manufacturers to produce its anti-covid pill without royalties in a move that should provide developing countries with easier access to its antiviral medication, it said in a statement.

STARTUP WATCH

Alexandria-based B2B marketplace Kuzlo raised pre-seed funding during a round led by Nama Ventures, according to a statement out on Thursday. The company did not disclose the size of the round or provide details on how it would use the investment.

About the company: Founded in March 2021, the company aims to connect FMCG retailers with wholesalers in their area. “Kuzlo is helping small retailers shift into the new future challenges and support them to strengthen their business value using new digital trends of e-commerce and e-finance in the near future,” co-founder and CEO Ayman Elgarem said.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Zayed will not return as health minister, says Amr Adib

It seems we may be saying goodbye to Hala Zayed as the nation’s health minister: This is according to MBC Masr’s Amr Adib, who claimed on El Hekaya on Friday night that Zayed would not be returning to the ministry following her hospitalization last week. “I can assure that the health minister will not return to her position,” Adib said in a segment looking at allegations of corruption made against a number of unnamed ministry officials (watch, runtime: 6:47).

Prosecutors probing the ministry: The Public Prosecution said last week that it had opened an investigation into a number of ministry officials, but did not provide further information about the nature of the allegations or who was being investigated. The statement said only that additional information would be forthcoming and that reports circulating on social media were not accurate. Adib said that Zayed has nothing to do with the case, but did not say why she would not be returning to her position at the ministry.

We have an interim health minister: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly has handed the portfolio to Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar on a temporary basis, according to a decision picked up by state media.

Adib’s remarks are getting attention in the domestic press from Al Masry Al Youm to Akhbar El Youm and Masrawy.

Environment minister talks COP26: Egypt will be use the high-stakes climate summit taking place in Glasgow this week to promote the government’s policies to mitigate the impact of climate change, including renewable energy projects and electric transportation, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 3:57).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Human rights is once again on the foreign press’ agenda: Egypt’s decision to end its years-long state of emergency is still getting play in the foreign press, with The World noting continued criticism of Egypt’s human rights record, while Deutsche Welle speculates on the motivations for lifting the decree.

Egypt’s ancient history is also getting mentions this morning: Research conducted at the Khuwy tomb suggests mummification is 1k years older than believed, with new evidence showing that the practice existed around 4,4k years ago, Business Insider reports. Meanwhile, the Global and Mail is out with a piece on the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Egypt snagged the final position on Lonely Planet’s top 10 list of the best travel destinations in the world for 2022. The travel guide book publisher praised Egypt’s ancient ruins, historical sites and captivating marine life of the Red Sea. (The National)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

French train manufacturer Alstom will manufacture and supply 55 new trains for Cairo Metro Line 1 under a contract approved by ministers last week, the cabinet said in a statement following its weekly meeting. The company will also carry out maintenance work and supply spare parts for eight years, the statement said. The contract is part of the larger rehabilitation program for Cairo’s oldest underground line. Alstom is also currently working on the manufacture of monorail trains for Egypt’s first monorail project.

Egypt received six of the 22 trains that will be used on the light rail, which will link Salam City and Tenth of Ramadan City via the new capital, the Transport Ministry said last week. The line is being built by CREC-AVIC International Consortium working alongside Egyptian firms including our friends at Orascom Construction.

The first phase of the line was supposed to be inaugurated at the end of this month. The first stretch of the line will connect Adly Mansour station to the new capital and is supposed to open for a three-month trial.

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

  • Egypt’s agricultural exports hit a record 5 mn tons this year, up from 4.4 mn tons last year, with citrus, potatoes and beets topping the list in terms of volume.
  • The New Urban Communities Authority has allocated 37 plots of land in 18 new cities for integrated urban projects, factories, schools, and medical, commercial and administrative activities.
  • Indian EPC and turnkey project management company Nuberg will build a 50 tpd sulphuric acid plant in Gamasa City after being awarded the project by Egypt’s International Company for Chemical Industry.

PLANET FINANCE

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Microsoft is tech’s top dog once again, reclaiming its spot as the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company after Apple took a slide on the release of its third-quarter earnings. Microsoft shares were up 2.2% on Friday, making the company worth USD 2.49 tn, while Apple dropped 1.9% to leave its market cap at USD 2.46 tn. The iPhone maker has been dented by chip shortages and factory disruptions amid the recent supply-chain squeeze.

KSA’s Olayan group is looking to revive IPO plans for some of its companies, CEO Nabeel Al Amudi told Bloomberg. These include a holding company of about 25 units and some operating firms, he added. Listing plans had been put on hold in 2017 as Saudi Arabia’s economic growth slowed, but Olayan Financing Company says it is now “ready to roll” after a series of successful listings inspired confidence in the market, Al-Amudi said.

Olayan has a substantial footprint in Egypt, from being the second-largest minority in Sodic and owning Somabay to the MENA franchise of Burger King.

GlobalFoundries IPO raises USD 2.6 bn: US chipmaker GlobalFoundries and shareholder Mubadala Investment Company raised USD 2.6 bn in the chipmaker’s Nasdaq IPO on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. The shares were valued at the upper end of the price range, trading for USD 47 per after being marketed at USD 42-47 per share.

Saudi Aramco is in talks with banks to secure a USD 10 bn loan to refinance existing debt, banking sources told CNBC Arabia.

The dogecoin has met its match in another dog-themed cryptocurrency that now has a bigger market cap than some of the world’s biggest companies. The Shiba Inu coin — think of it as a joke about a joke — has soared nearly 800% in the past month, hitting an all-time high yesterday with a market cap of USD 38.5 bn, according to Fortune.

Up

EGX30

11506.63

+1.25% (YTD: +6.1%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

11,758.82

-0.4% (YTD: +35.3%)

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ADX

7,872.55

+2% (YTD: +56%)

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DFM

2,861.13

-1% (YTD: +14.8%)

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S&P 500

4,605.38

+0.2% (YTD: +22.6%)

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FTSE 100

7,237.57

-0.2% (YTD: +12%)

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Brent crude

USD 83.72

+0.1%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.43

-6%

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Gold

USD 1,783.9

-1%

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BTC

USD 61,593

-1.4% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.3% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.32 bn (13.5% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.1% YTD.

In the green: Pioneers Properties (+14.7%), Madinet Nasr Housing (+8.3%) and Rameda (+6.1%).

In the red: Fawry (-1.7%), Palm Hills Development (-1.6%) and MM Group (-1.6%).

DIPLOMACY

Another bid to resolve the Libyan crisis: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met up with the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Jan Kubis, in Cairo yesterday. During the meeting the FM repeated calls for a stop to all foreign interference in the country and reiterated the importance of holding the political elections that are scheduled for 24 December, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Egypt will support South Sudan to develop its water infrastructure, under the terms of an MoU signed Cairo Water Week’s closing ceremony, according to a cabinet statement.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly discussed agricultural development with a high-level delegation of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), according to a cabinet statement. The PM discussed the government’s rural infrastructure development plan Hayah Karima, which has earned the government praise over its inclusive developmental approach.

AROUND THE WORLD

SUDAN WATCH- Three protesters were shot dead by Sudanese military forces during nationwide demonstrations against last week’s military-led coup, Reuters reported, citing a Sudanese doctors’ committee. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Khartoum on Saturday to demand the restoration of the civilian government that was last week dissolved by armed forces leader General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan. At least 13 protesters were killed in confrontations with security officials over the course of last week.

Where next for Sudan’s leadership? Al Burhan says he remains committed to Sudan’s democratic transition including elections slated for 2023, and on Thursday suggested that ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok would be free to form a new cabinet of his choosing. Hamdok said he would not negotiate with the military until the coup is reversed.

International pressure isn’t slowing down the string of arrests, with the Sudanese military arresting more coup opponents, journalists, and cabinet members to bring the total to 40 since the takeover on Monday, according to Bloomberg. Hamdok, who was detained on Monday, was released last Thursday, but other members of cabinet, including Health Minister Omer Al Najeeb and Water Minister Yasser Abbas, were arrested Wednesday.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • New Greece-Turkey talks? Greece is open to talks with Turkey to dial back tensions regarding disputed maritime zones in the east Mediterranean, reports Reuters.
  • Hopes for Iran agreement: US and European officials voiced confidence in making a breakthrough in nuclear talks with Iran, paving the way for the restoration of the landmark 2015 accord which has been on the verge of collapse since the Trump administration abandoned it in 2018, CNN reports.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Another Saqqara discovery: A team from Cairo University has ​​excavated in Saqqara the tomb of Ptah-m-Wia, the treasury head during the reign of King Ramses II, the Tourism Ministry said yesterday. The tomb includes an entrance, courtyard and shrines to deities, topped by a pyramid. The tomb’s entrance is built of stone, carved with scenes of Ptah-m-Wia himself, among which is one that showcases a procession carrying offerings, which ends with a calf being slaughtered. This year has seen a large number of archaeological discoveries at Saqqara, including a funerary temple and a collection of 54 coffins thought to be some 3k years’ old.

CALENDAR

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

30-31 October (Saturday-Sunday): G20 Leaders’ Summit, Rome, Italy.

31 October (Sunday): World Cities Day, Luxor, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

6 November (Saturday): Deadline to apply to Nahdet El Mahrousa’s Rabeha, a women entrepreneurship accelerator program.

7-10 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2021, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

8 November (Monday): Egypt CSR Forum, International Citystars, Cairo.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

18-19 November (Thursday-Friday) British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Cairo.

25-27 November (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, Cairo, Egypt.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

30 November (Tuesday): Launch of open call by GIZ and KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

27 January 2022 (Tuesday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

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

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

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

2 April 2022 (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

22-24 April 2022 (Friday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

24 April 2022 (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians).

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

2 May 2022 (Monday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools.

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

30 June 2022 (Thursday): June 30 Revolution Day, national holiday.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

6 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

**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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